BMW 5 Series: Five into seven
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Seventh generation - same winning formula
The BMW 5 Series is an icon for the brand when it comes to business sedans, so for the seventh generation there is good reason to not mess with a winning formula.
So far 7.9 million of the 5 Series have been sold worldwide, but BMW has decided the 2017 version will take the fight to Mercedes-Benz's E-Class and Audi's A6 when it comes to luxury large sedans.
The BMW 5 Series will be launched in New Zealand in February, with three variants available from release; a 530 diesel, 540i petrol (replacing the 535i) and an all-new 520 diesel the company expects to attract new buyers.
BMW New Zealand's corporate affairs manager, Paul Sherley, told Driven that the 530d will be $133,900, the 540i $142,900 and will come with M Sport package, while the 520d will be $99,900 "making it very competitive with the competition", said Sherley.
Sherley reckoned that the diesel 530 would be a big seller.
He is expecting customers of 3 and 4 Series sedans will "move up" to the 5 Series entry-level diesel.
"It will be a step up for customers who have been driving those other BMW sedans."
Though the medium/large sedan market in New Zealand is in decline, with a move towards SUVs, Sherley said the 5 Series had a "loyal customer base".
"There is still demand for sedans and the 5 Series has been traditionally strong," he said.
BMW New Zealand will also be introducing the plug-in hybrid 5 Series, under the iPerformance banner, late next year.
But there's bad news for fans of the M550i, as it will be available only in left-hand-drive.
The all-new 5 Series weighs 100kg less than the previous model thanks to the extensive use of aluminum, magnesium and high-strength steel.
The exterior dimensions of the new car are only slightly larger than those of its predecessor. At first glance it resembles the outgoing model, but take a longer look and you'll find the differences.
The new BMW 5 Series Sedan is 36 millimetres longer than the outgoing model (at 4935mm), 6mm wider (1868mm) and 2mm taller (1466 mm).
Its wheelbase measures 2975mm, an increase of 7mm.
Visually the all-new 5 Series has had a major overhaul inside and out but it's the front end that is the most striking.
The front LED headlights merge into the kidney grille giving it a dynamic appeal. Above the LED headlights is a brushed chrome effect while the lights are now hexagonal rather than round.
The side view puts more emphasis on the crease lines, giving a stretched look, while at the rear the LED headlights wrap around in the side panels.
Inside the redesigned cabin, a floating infotainment touchscreen reduces the height of the dashboard over the previous model while it gains gesture control, as seen in the 7 Series, as well as voice control, touchscreen and iDrive Controller.
It also gets a smart key, which, The interior boasts a new dash and a floating screen, new hexagonal headlights, and a smart key that can park the car.
as in the new 7 Series, can tell you information about the car and will remote park the car into tight spots.
The driver's cockpit is roomy with plenty of legroom for the front passengers, while the back seat has enough space for three adults with plenty of headroom.
The boot is 530 litres but the plug-in loses 140kg to accommodate the 9.2kWh battery.
BMW is also boasting automated steering in the all-new 5 Series through its steering and lane control assistant that, like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, sees the sedan "drive itself" by keeping at a set speed and within the lines of lanes.
BMW gets kudos for having the controls for the system on the steering wheel for easy access, where the Mercedes has the control on a stalk behind and you have to flick through to try to operate it.
With the 5 Series there are three buttons to operate distance between you and the vehicle ahead, speed and to set the semi-autonomous system.
Like the E-Class, the 5 Series can automatically change lanes by using the indicator but here BMW loses points over its German rival.
Unlike the E-Class, you have to have a hand (or finger) on the steering wheel for the automated lane change to work.
Which makes you question: why use it?
You also have to have a light, two-second touch on the stalk rather than pushing it hard for it to work.
The semi-autonomous system also fails against Mercedes when it comes to time of use and warnings.
You can have your hands off the wheel for five seconds before a yellow warning triangle appears on the dash in front of you -- and after 35 seconds it turns off and you just have a red illuminated triangle, rather than an audible warning.
The E-Class can be hands-free for up to three minutes and it gives you plenty of warning before it slows down and comes to a stop.
But BMW gets points for its surround view and 3D view on the infotainment touchscreen.
It worked brilliantly when we stopped at an abandoned fortress on the coast near Cascais and had to manoeuvre around some rocks on the uneven road.
Our route on day one was 157km in the 540i with M Sport package, with a combination of motorway driving, winding mountain roads and then accidentally off-road for the detour to the fortress.
For a large sedan, the 5 Series handled the winding corners well, though size was a problem when negotiating some tight village lanes.
Day two was in the 530 diesel with xDrive and the quiet of the cabin was impressive. The 114km route took us down to the coast by Cascais before mainly motorway driving, with the diesel effortlessly overtaking vehicles at speeds of up to 140km/h.
The test will come when the car is launched in New Zealand and takes on the E-Class.