BMW 5 Series review: Watch out E-Class, this Bimmer could just be a better buy
An exclusive first impression of the brand spanking new BMW 5 Series due for launch by June-July. Will it outclass the new Mercedes E-Class?autos Updated: Apr 04, 2017 18:12 IST
Driving pleasure has always been the cornerstone of every BMW, not something that could be said about the outgoing version of the 5-series, which drove like anything but a BMW. Enter the all-new 5-series, a car that, the brand claims, is a massive leap forward over its predecessor in every area. It’s supposed to be comfier, better put together, loaded to the gills with gizmos and gadgetry, and of course, a whole lot better to drive. Time to put these claims to the test then.
The new 5 will hit Indian shores sometime around June or July, and the range will be topped by the 530d variant, the car you see in these pictures. This variant gets the brand’s M Sport package as standard, and hence comes with a racier exterior – sportier bumpers and bigger alloy wheels – and also a host of tricks to make your driving experience a lot more fun. The talking point, of course, is the car’s new 3.0-litre straight-six diesel engine, that’s an absolute delight. What will strike you first is just how effortless the car feels when you drive it sedately. But put your right foot down, and the car’s wide rear wheels almost always fight for traction. The new 5 really does have the ability to pin you in the back and keep you there.
The new 3.0 straight-six is also much more refined than before. It’s smooth, like the engine is gargling rubber bullets instead of ball bearings, and at low revs, it’s quieter too. That said, it isn’t the epitome of refinement. Other large-capacity diesels from the competition are quieter still, as this engine does grumble a bit at low speeds and has that typical BMW angry rattle when revved hard. That said, hats off to this motor for the near petrol-like manner in which it delivers the 265hp. And 0-100kph in a claimed 5.7sec: that’s serious performance. Lower variants will be offered with two four-cylinder options – a 190hp 520d diesel and a 252hp 530i petrol.
The area in which the new 5 has improved the most over its predecessor has to be the handling. Where the previous-gen 5 had soggy dynamics and a vague, uncommunicative steering, the new 5 returns to form, and how.
Put it through a piece of twisting and turning tarmac and the car impresses, to say the least. There’s just so much grip and confidence coming up from the front wheels, it’s easy to keep pushing harder and harder; no way does it feel like something that measures 5m in length. What also helps is that the new 5 is always poised and comfortable, plus there’s the smooth and lightning-quick eight-speed gearbox that keeps you in the right gear at all times.
BMW’s new Adaptive drive mode also comes as a bit of a surprise. In this mode, the ride is soft and supple when you drive in an easy manner, and then when you start tearing around, the car automatically stiffens up the suspension. Over some of the sharper bumps there is a bit of stiffness, even in ‘Comfort’, but BMW seem to have found a sweet balance between ride and handling.
While the new 5 is fabulous to drive, a lot of owners will often occupy the rear seat and that’s what I evaluate next. There’s real leather here to begin with, some of the softest around, and the seats are extremely supportive. And because the new 5 has an almost 3 metre-long wheelbase, legroom is also more than sufficient. It’s of course no competition to the legroom on offer in the extended-wheelbase E-class; that’s just miles better.
The large front seats, though, leave little room for complaints. They are amply comfortable, and it’s easy to find the right driving position. Quality levels are top-notch too. There are no cheap bits here, and everything feels built last. The 5 is better equipped than the E-class too. The instrument panel is all digital, and the resolution and functionality of the screens are akin to a modern smartphone. Passengers at the back get their own remote for the iDrive infotainment system, and dedicated screens too. The new 5 even gets a few delight features from the bigger 7-series like the gesture control for the infotainment system. Then there’s the sci-fi-like remote parking that lets you steer the car out of a parking spot via the key fob. Some of the buttons like the blower control, however, are a bit small and fiddly to use, especially when you’re on the move.
BMW has made a much needed modification to the boot, especially for India. The luggage compartment now comes with room for a space-saver under the floor. Space, as a result, will be down on the otherwise generous 530 litres, but having a tyre to fall back on makes a huge difference.
In its latest avatar, the 5-series is clearly back to being a proper BMW. It’s got the performance of a thoroughbred sports sedan, and the car has also taken massive step forward on the inside. Quality levels are now easily best in class and it is lavishly equipped, often as generously as cars from a class above.
The new 5, however, lacks the E-class’ single-minded focus when it comes to the rear seat experience. What the new 5 delivers though is a more rounded package. It feels like a barely shrunken-down 7-series, and that’s a huge accomplishment in itself. The best bit is that BMW promises to deliver a knockout price for base petrol, which is expected to cost around Rs 52 lakh. The range-topping 530d, however is likely to be pricey at Rs 65 lakh.
- Length x Width x Height 4936 x 1868 x 1479 mm
- Wheelbase 2975mm
- Engine 6 cylinders, 2993cc, turbo-diesel
- Power 265hp @ 4000rpm
- Torque 620Nm @ 2000-2500rpm
- Gearbox 8-speed auto
- Price Rs 52 - 65 lakh (estimated)
(In partnership with AutocarIndia)