BMW has taken the wraps off the seventh generation of its venerable 5-series sedan, which we’ve already driven in prototype form. Code-named G30, the newest 5-series sports new sheetmetal that appears cribbed from the 3-series, while its array of new tech features borrows heavily from the 7-series.
Size-wise, the new 5 pretty much stays the course. Its dimensions are all within an inch of the previous car’s, except for overall length, which grows by 1.2 inches. Unlike the current 7-series, the 5-series does not use carbon-fiber reinforcements in its structure, but BMW says weight-saving measures such as an aluminum trunklid, roof, and doors pared up to 137 pounds.
The styling breaks little ground; the 5-series now resembles a slightly inflated 3-series. The headlights (adaptive LEDs) stretch to touch the twin-kidney grille, behind which are aerodynamics-enhancing automatic shutters. The side view reveals a familiar upper crease along the body side and a lower character line that kicks up behind the front wheels. At the rear, larger taillights containing LED elements wrap farther around onto the fenders. An available M Sport package dresses up the exterior. It includes a revised front fascia with larger air intakes, restyled rocker panels, and trapezoidal exhaust outlets that poke out from a lower rear fascia styled to suggest a diffuser. Inside, the package brings aluminum pedal trim, an M Sport steering wheel, and optional black leather with blue contrast stitching.
A Pair of Fives
At launch, there will be just two models, the 530i and 540i, either of which can be had with rear- or all-wheel drive (which BMW calls xDrive). The former diesel, hybrid, and V-8 variants are all absent—at least for now. The 530i replaces the 528i, and, following the pattern established by the 3-series and the 4-series, it denotes the arrival of BMW’s latest turbocharged four-cylinder. The 2.0-liter B46 engine here makes the same 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque as it does in the 330i (versus 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft for the previous turbo four). An eight-speed automatic with standard shift paddles is the sole transmission choice. BMW posits that the 530i will scoot to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds, or 5.8 seconds with xDrive.
The 540i—a badge that once signaled the presence of a 4.0-liter V-8—is now home to BMW’s classic inline-six powerplant, bolstered by a turbocharger. The B58 six here makes 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft, just nosing ahead of the 340i’s 320 horses and 330 lb-ft and representing a notable bump of 35 horsepower and 32 lb-ft over the 535i’s turbo six. The factory-estimated zero-to-60-mph time for the new 540i is 4.9 seconds, with all-wheel drive here knocking 0.2 second off that figure.
BMW’s Integral Active Steering (four-wheel steering) once again is available, as is Dynamic Damper Control (adaptive dampers). Wheel sizes are 18, 19, or 20 inches, and run-flat tires are standard, but conventional 18-inch tires (with a space-saver spare) are available as a no-cost alternative. The M Sport suspension brings a lower ride height and specific 19-inch wheels. BMW also is loosening the restrictions around its all-wheel-drive system, making it possible to combine xDrive with the M Sport suspension or with Integral Active Steering.
Better Living through Technology
The iDrive rotary controller returns, but the 10.3-inch display is now a touchscreen, too, so there’s more than one way to manage the infotainment system. The gimmicky gesture controls, introduced in the latest 7-series, present still a third way to operate many functions. In cars with the optional multicontour seats, a touch receptor on the edge of the seat calls up the seating menu on the iDrive screen. The revamped iDrive logic now features six large tiles (displayed three at a time) for the system’s major functions; touching one enlarges that function to full-screen size, and touching the header at the top opens a menu for that function.
Also in the techno sphere, there’s Apple CarPlay (but not Android Auto), which now can be used wirelessly for the first time, an available Wi-Fi hotspot, optional wireless device charging, and the latest BMW Connected services. The BMW Connected app can work in conjunction with the car’s 3D-view cameras to beam images of the parked Bimmer to one’s smartphone. Those forward thinkers who use an Amazon Alexa digital assistant will be thrilled to learn that BMW Connected can mind meld with Alexa.
In developing the new 5-series, BMW seems to have expended much effort in the area of parking. Unsurprisingly, the car has an available automated parking system that can slot the vehicle into parallel or perpendicular spots—not only steering, a function that was available on the previous 5-series as well as on many competitors, but also shifting, accelerating, and braking. As on the 7-series, there’s also a function that allows a driver to stand outside the vehicle and direct it into a tight space using the Display Key—itself another trickle-down item from the new 7. Beyond that, the 5-series navigation system incorporates the app from the parking service company ParkNow, allowing drivers to reserve a spot at one of its affiliated garages. For those determined to find on-street parking, the new 5-series debuts On-Street Parking Information (OSPI), which displays map information on the nav about the likelihood of street-parking availability, using “historic and current data,” although the source of the latter is unclear.
Still more tech: The top audio system is a new 1400-watt Bowers & Wilkins setup with 16 speakers. The available head-up display is larger. LED ambient lighting with various colors and effects is standard. Elsewhere in the cabin, one finds 16-way power sport seats—or optional multicontour seats, with available ventilation and massage. BMW designers managed to eke out a bit more rear-seat legroom and knee room as well as increase the luggage capacity, and the company claims interior stowage has been improved.
The first opportunity for Americans to see the car in person will be in January at the Detroit auto show, with vehicles due in showrooms in February. Pricing isn’t out yet, but we don’t expect them to stray far from today’s figures of $51,195 (528i) and $56,845 (535i)—with xDrive a $2300 upgrade. Those numbers could inflate dramatically, though, for buyers who load up at the new 5-series’ technology buffet.