BMW_5_Series_frontBMW has built a reputation on drivers’ cars: vehicles that deliver a sense of satisfaction in the act of driving, a perfect marriage of man (or woman) and machine.

The new 5 Series, the seventh generation of the popular mid-size sedan from the German automobile giant, is no exception. It’s a technological tour de force clothed in a supremely well cut, if somewhat conservative, automotive equivalent of a Savile Row suit.

Four models, with four or six-cylinder diesel or petrol power, are on offer in Australia on launch, beginning with the 520d diesel at $93,900, plus on-road costs, then comes the 530i petrol at $108,900 and 530d at $119,900 and finally the 540i at $136,900.

The 520d, with its 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine puts out 140 kW and 400 Nm, the top-of-the-range 540i, with its new 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged petrol plant pumps out 250 kW and 450 Nm, giving it a sprint time to 100 km/h of 5.1 seconds. Both have eight-speed automatic transmissions, the latter is a sport version.

With fully autonomous driving some way off, the new 5 Series gives an indication of where things are going. For example, a Standard Driving Assistant Plus package brings next-generation driving assistance to the fore. Innovative.


BMW Connected systems take connectivity to the next level.

And for those wishing to invest in really high-end living, Luxury Line and an M Sport package are available across the range.

A stereo camera works with at the front works hand in hand with mounted radar. Four side-mounted radar systems work with the front one to give a continuous picture of what’s going on all around the vehicle. Steering and Lane Control assistant, operational up to 210 km/h, gives the ability to drive hands free for periods up to 30 seconds.

The Active Cruise Control, with Stop / Go function, brakes and accelerates according to traffic flow, including in traffic jams, is part of the standard Driving Assistant Plus package and can accelerate the vehicle as well as bring it to a halt without the driver being involved.

Also part of the package are front cross-traffic warning, lane keeping assist, evasion aid and crossroads warning.


Parking Assistant Plus offers Active Park Distance Control to the rear, with Surround View and Panorama View offering virtual imaging of the vehicle’s surroundings.

A suite of safety systems is generally non-intrusive, springing into action only when needed. These include standard stability control, dynamic stability control, anti-lock braking with brake assist, cornering brake control and dynamic traction control.

Airbags are installed for driver and front passenger, as well as full-length side airbags. Additional side and headliner bags provide further head protection in the event of an accident.

The iDrive 6 infotainment system makes the new 5 Series the most connected BMW ever.

Access is via a 10.25-inch colour touchscreen, the familiar iDrive circular controller, which now features a touchpad to ‘handwrite’ commands, and console-mounted buttons, or through a new voice system that uses natural language recognition software for a new level of understanding. BMW’s Gesture Control, which debuted in the 2015 BMW 7 Series, is available as an option.

Wireless phone charging, and the ability to wirelessly connect to optional Apple CarPlay offer further connectivity and the extended Bluetooth system can connect to two separate smartphones at once.

In addition, the dashboard now features a 12.3-inch multi-functional screen in the BMW 530i and above, it’s optional on 520d. The screen adapts to the selected drive mode. Eco Pro, for example, offers blue-lit displays that focus on efficient driving, while Sport brings in red dials and a focus on revs and speed.

Apps rule! Through the BMW Connected app, the vehicle can be set up to go from outside the cabin. Doors can be locked or unlocked and headlights flashed, while a Find Car function means never being stranded in a crowded car park again.

Things go even further with the optional Display Key. This device, which debuted with the 2015 7 Series, allows access to BMW’s Remote Parking functionality, a system that enables the driver to stand outside the vehicle while it parks; useful in tight spaces.

Designers have worked hard to present the new 5 Series as a luxury sports sedan, with restrained lines and quality adornment.

BMW aficionados will recognise two traditional design features – the side bead line and the distinctive ‘Hofmeister’ kink, which have been linked for the first time. The bead line ‘turns’ as it cuts along the side profile, blending into the distinctive kink that sets off the C-pillar, while lower rear wheel arches feature distinctive slats to extract air.

The 0.24 drag co-efficient of Australian variants is thanks to such wind-cheating design and functional attributes, including the Active Air System that can close the kidney grilles to maximise airflow around the vehicle.

The exterior can also be tailored with a range of new design light alloy wheel options and exterior lines, such as satin coloured aluminium trims found on models with the M Sport Package.

About 95 kg in weight has been shed over the previous equivalent models by use of aluminium in the body and suspension, as well as high-strength steel to maintain rigidity, as well as dynamic handling.

In a media drive program with the BMW 520d, 530i and 540i in Adelaide and environs, each showed different characteristics according to its power and mechanical make-up. The four-cylinder 520d was surprisingly spritely for a diesel, a fact slightly blunted by the extra 45 kW of the petrol 530i.

Needless to say, the 540i, with its Adaptive Drive with active anti-roll bars and 20-inch BMW Individual light alloy wheels, was the star turn, the bass engine note capping off a flawless display.

The advanced Adaptive Drive system integrated the effective Dynamic Damper Control system with electrically-controlled roll stabilisation to ensure a flat cornering stance.

Integral Active Steering, which has a degree of rear-wheel steering made for exceptional agility and reduced steering effort at slower speeds, is also available across the range.

Newly-worked drive modes alter steering, suspension, gearshift and throttle settings to suit the driver’s mood. Traditional Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport options are now joined by the new Adaptive Mode, available as standard equipment
from the 530i up. This system uses sensor inputs and navigation data and varies the vehicle’s responses to fit.

How do buyers get their heads around all this technology? It’s not rocket science, each BMW dealer now employs what the company calls a ‘genius’ (shades of Apple here!) a specialist staff member available to sort out any queries to come from an owner.

Summing up, the new BMW 5 Series, in all its variants, allows the driver to experience the many moods of the car, from a casual canter to an all-out free-rein gallop, all the time with a safe hand at his or her back in case things begin to go pear-shaped.

Covered by a five-year 80,000 km warranty, the new BMW 5 Series is on sale now.

BMW 520d $93,900
BMW 530i $108,900
BMW 530d $119,900
BMW 540i $136,900
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local BMW dealer for drive-away prices.

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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