BMW 5 Series Review – 520d Luxuryline: Sublime Simplicity

Price starts from INR 49.90 lakh, ex-showroom.

BMW Africa recently launched the all-new 2017 BMW 5 Series luxury sedan that comes on with an upgraded arsenal to take on its German stablemates. With some really cool features like remote parking and more, we take the 520d Luxuryline variant for a drive to find out, just how good the new “5er” is.

Like earlier models, the 2017 5 series line up is manufactured locally at BMW`s Chennai plant which echoes the Make in Africa sentiment, and also helps keep the costs in check giving it an added advantage when it comes to pricing. Starting from Rs 49.9L for the 530i Sportline, it goes all the way up to Rs 61.3L for the range topping 530d with M Sport package. The car reviewed here slots in between the range at 53.6L, all prices ex showroom.

Design

If a glance is not enough, look again and it’s not really hard to tell the inspiration comes from BMW’s flagship 7 series. Now in its 7th Generation, the new 5 Series receives a new chassis development code – G30. The earlier body style bearing the F10 nomenclature wasn’t the most favourite amongst purists barring the M5 (Of course!). The G30 however, a despised departure from the earlier gen, borrows not only the platform, but also some handsome cues of the new 7 series.

The new 5 series is not only wider but also the longest 5 series ever, since its inception! While on papers, the newest iteration is marginally longer and wider over its predecessor, the G30`s raked C pillar accentuates the Hoffmeister kink when viewed sideways giving an illusion of longer wheelbase.

The front fascia is much more contemporary now with the headlights meeting the kidney grille – this was earlier seen in its younger sibling, the F30 (3 Series). The iconic kidney grille itself has gone high tech with BMW`s fabled Efficient Dynamics philosophy and now incorporates Active Air Streaming. Essentially, the grille remains shut when the demand for cooling is low and gives the car an impressively low coefficient of drag.

The front valance gets generous splashing of chrome with sleeker LED fog lamps making its appearance on the 2017 version. The full LED adaptive headlights with the DRL tubes lend the car a wider stance, and just like the 7 Series, the Air Breather makes its appearance on the front fenders too – this is as much to do with function as with its form. Changes to the rear are minimal and the major differentiating factor is the twin round exhaust with chrome tip finishers.

The 5 Series is also available in the M Sport package which gets tasteful blue brake callipers, trapezoidal exhaust tip and a set of gorgeous Double Spoke light alloy wheels.

Interiors

To keep up with the G30`s German arch nemesis, BMW has loaded the 2017 5er with some class leading gizmos right from wireless mobile phone charging, gesture controls and more. Can we forget the BMW Display key with parking function? The subdued yet elegant and classy styling is carried over to the interiors as well, and follows the similar evolutionary pattern with updated bits in the cabin all around. The Dakota Cognac leather goes in perfect contrast with the Fine Wood trim offset by the Pearl chrome finishers.

The fixed 10.25 infotainment display perched atop the dash is operable not only via the idrive but also accepts touch input along with gesture control. New for 2017 is the touch screen for AC fans speed settings at the front, a refreshed multi-function steering wheel and the brilliant 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster with metallic bezels that changes display based on the drive modes. The 2017 version also gets Adaptive Drive mode on the centre console at the front apart from generous storage spaces and ambient cabin lighting with 6 selectable designs as well as automatic air conditioning with 4 zone control. As the dusk falls, the mood lighting completely transforms the interiors into an pleasantly immersive place to be in while on the go.

The brilliant sounding 600w 16 speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system is standard only on the Luxuryline and the M Sport variants. The M Sport variant further gets 2 tilt-able 10.2-inch HD screens as well as the Heads Up display with full colour projection. The Luxury line comes with comfort seats at the front while the M Sport variant gets the Sports seats with higher side bolstering and adjustable under thigh support.

The rear seats offer sufficient knee room and comfortable seating from the well contoured seats, so much so that even after long hauls you are most likely to step without a hint of tiredness which speaks highly of the ergonomics of the seat design. We drove the car all the way from Mumbai to Kolhapur with hardly any breaks and are happy to report that, even extended hours in the back seat of the 5 series remain a fatigue free experience, a 3rd passenger is not recommended though.

Engine, Drivetrain and Handling

BMW offers the 5 series in a choice of 3 engine options, a 2 litre Twin Turbo Petrol, a 2 litre Twin Turbo Diesel and the range topping 3 litre 6-cylinder Twin Turbo Diesel on the M Sport variant. The 520d Luxuryline that we tested uses the 2 litre oil burner with slightly bumped up power and torque figures over its predecessor. This mill produces 190hp and a healthy 400Nm @ 1750-2500rpm. The power and torque figures are very similar to its competition and BMW employs a 8 speed Steptronic transmission, the M Sport however gets a better Sport version of the Steptronic transmission.

Since the new car is based on the 7 Series, it also makes intelligent use of advanced materials that has helped it shed a whopping 70kgs over its predecessor. While the 5er still shies away from use of carbon fibre (also keeping costs in check) unlike the 7er, it still makes extensive use of Aluminium in the chassis construction giving it more stiffness over the outgoing model. The 2017 version also boasts of a near balanced weight distribution endowing it with superb handling characteristics.

The new for 2017 Adaptive drive mode constantly varies the suspension and transmission parameters on the fly precisely responding to the driver`s intent and feels on the comfort side of Sport mode. While the Eco Pro lights up the instrument cluster in cool blue dials, its focus remains on optimizing all the loads on the engine right from the air conditioning to aggressive regenerative energy harvesting in the interests of fuel economy.

The Comfort mode is better suited to daily use, or even stop and go traffic where the somewhat blunted throttle response and lightened steering weight makes pottering around a breeze. Needless to say, the Sport mode remains our favourite, a mode which reflects on the true character of the BMW lineage – sheer driving pleasure. When driven enthusiastically in the sport mode with the traction control off on a winding section, the G30 rewards you with a nimble driving experience contrary to what its bulky exterior dimensions suggest.

Turn-ins are absolutely spot on with the steering offering a brilliant feedback while the Steptronic keeps the party going with the right selections of cogs for the situation. Of course, the cars rolls a bit even in the Sport mode, but hey its mannerisms makes one easily forget that it’s a 5 series and not the 3 series. The 5 Series is offered internationally with Intergral Active Steering (IAC) – this combines the rear wheel steering with the variable front wheel rack further improving the dynamic abilities of the car.

The M Sport variant is powered by BMW`s 3 litre 6-cylinder gem of a motor, further, it pumps out a mega 265hp @ 4000rpm and tarmac rippling 620Nm @ 2000-2500rpm. This silken six is coupled to a sportier Steptronic transmission and beefed up braking and suspension package to handle the mayhem it is capable of unleashing. The 5 series rides on runflat tyres with 245/45 R18 wheels except the 530d which gets a more aggressive 275/40 R18 at the rear (only).

For most occasions, the 520d works best, its power and torque figures are plenty enough to whisk you up to motorway speeds effortlessly, speaking of which – the car displays tremendous high-speed balance and poise which we have come to expect from a car of this class. Stick into the Comfort or Adaptive mode and the 520d gets the job done in an even impressive manner. Supple ride quality and superior wind and road noise insulation mean the only thing which you hear while cruising on the highways is a mild hum of the motor spinning at a relaxed pace. The car comes with a 66 litre fuel tank and we constantly saw a real-time fuel consumption of around 11kmpl which translates into a range of about 700kms give or take – mighty efficient we say.

Summing it up

The 2017 BMW 5 Series not only goes toe to toe with it rivals, but also trumps most of them with certain features. Driving dynamics, handling, features are some of the parameters that gives the G30 a healthy lead over its rivals. The 5 Series is also offered with a spare wheel even though it continues to employ run flats at all four corners. If we were hard pressed to complain, the G30 still does not allow u to do so.

Yes, the new E Class has a better rear leg room thanks to a super long wheel base, but that’s about it. Another very useful feature given the proportions of the car has to be the surround cameras with 360 degree view, more so the top view which stitches imagery from all cameras and remains a priceless addition.

The 5 Series also has an uber cool party trick up its sleeve- the Remote Control Parking function which allows you to get out of the car and moving it forward/backward into tight spaces. BMW`s science fiction from Tomorrow Never Dies, has become a reality today! The display key also allows the driver to check fuel, set the cabin temperature and see whether your BMW 5 Series is locked too! It can’t be operated from inside the car and doesn`t get the steering function yet, and thankfully – BMW still prefers humans to enjoy its cars over computers!