If you are in the market for a luxury car that also doubles up as a keen drivers’ machine then there are few options as good as the 5 Series. BMW has given it a subtle refresh recently to take on the likes of the Mercedes E class and Audi A6. There is also an M badge now on this top-of-the line car but before you get excited lets inform you that it’s just the M kit and not the M line-up of engines.
Most car buyers will not be able to spot the differences immediately from the outgoing model. You get slightly modified lamps, re-styled lower air intakes, newer housing for the fog lamps and the front and rear bumpers are all new as well with more prominent chrome accents than before. The sides are dominated by the massive 18-inch wheels. The rear gets a new lamps design as well, with LED stripes running in them. They look cool at night and make the car stand out. But the overall silhouette remains largely unchanged from the last generation of the car. Though all these changes make the car look sleeker it doesn’t look too different from the last version of the car.
On the inside, the dashboard is finished in black on the top and beige on the lower portion. Materials are absolutely first rate and there is hardly anything which feels out of place. The gauges will however split opinion. Gone are the crisp analogue units replaced by digital one’s which try and ape the original analogue design. There is also a head-up display, which shows the speed, radio info and other stuff at the bottom of the driver’s side windscreen. The rotary controls for the iDrive system is more intuitive to use than before as well. It controls the navigation, stereo, telephone and a lot more. The rear entertainment system comes as standard, with two screens to keep the rear passengers happy on those long journeys. The seats themselves are very comfortable, and the front one’s get a host of electrical adjustments to help you get comfortable place easily. However, BMW having placed three head restraints at the rear is a bit optimistic since the tall transmission tunnel at the rear limits the seats usability as a genuine three seater. The 520-litre boot is deep enough and provides plenty of space for those occasional airport hauls, or three golf bags.
Engine, Transmission and Performance
Power comes from a 3-litre six-cylinder diesel engine, which develops 255bhp. This diesel unit is the last word on refinement. Rear passengers will never be able to tell that it’s a diesel under the hood, and even front one’s will have a tough time telling it apart from a petrol motor. You get a 8-speed automatic gearbox as standard. The unit is brilliant at changing gears and you will never be left wanting for power in the wrong gear. There are paddle shifts at the back of the steering wheel, which give you complete control over the transmission. Power delivery is smooth and effortless, just the way you expect in a BMW. 1,500 revs is all the car needs to feel lively. Go all the way to its 5,000rpm redline and performance is brutal. The car builds up speed in a hurry. BMW’s claim of reaching 0-100kmph in under 6 seconds seems completely realistic with this powerhouse of an engine.
Ride and handling
You can choose from four driving modes which alter the transmission, engine and chassis characteristics of the car. So if you want fuel economy go for ‘Eco Pro.’ Those looking at agile handling will love the ‘Sport’ mode where the suspension stiffens up nicely, the steering feels better weighted but those who want to be in total command without any electric stability programs will want the ‘Sport Pro.’ But to get the best compromise between a comfortable ride and agile handling, the ‘Comfort’ mode is the best. The steering feels agile while the suspension remains soft enough to glide through most patch-worked roads with ease.
Safety and equipment
Like most BMW’s the 5-series is very well kitted for occupant safety. You get a total of eight airbags including side and head airbags. Run flat tyres with enforced sidewalls are standard. You get a host of driver electronic aids like Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with brake assist, cornering brake control, traction control as well as stability control among other things. The 5 Series also takes care of pedestrians; it gets a spring-loaded bonnet that provides extra bit of cushioning in the event of an accident.
There might be some cars in this segment which offer better value or more luxury but none other can put a smile on your face the way this BMW can each time you take it out for a spin. All in all, a great driver’s car has got even better.
Mercedes E class
BMW 530D Test Drive Review
The facelifted E-class looks good, offers a comfortable cabin and drives well too. Refined, classy and with plenty of features, it’s one of the best options out there in the luxury segment and well worth a look.