- New Five driven / G30 5 SERIES FIRST DRIVE
Behind the wheel of the stunning 530d xDrive and #BMW-540i-M-Sport / #BMW-5-Series-G30 / #BMW-540i-M-Sport-G30
BMW’s G30 5 Series has the weight of expectation on its sharp shoulders, but it shrugs it – and pretty much everything else – off with disdain. Words: Bob Harper. Photography: BMW
The Business Behind the wheel of BMW’s awesome new #BMW-5-Series in 540i and #BMW-530d-xDrive guises.
Now, I’m no fashion expert, but to my eyes, pairing a sharply tailored suit with a set of proper running shoes shouldn’t work, but that’s how BMW wants us to think of its new 5 Series, in its words, the ‘Business Athlete’. That’s effectively how BMW’s marketing bods have interpreted the message its engineers conveyed to us when we drove the pre-production G30 in Wales back in the October issue. The intention was to keep the F10’s comfort level but ramp up the driving dynamics to ensure the new 5 Series is the sportiest to drive option in the executive saloon class. Our first impressions then suggested the brief had been met and now, a few months later, we’re in Lisbon for the first test of the showroom-ready car just before it arrives in UK dealerships in February #2017 .
We spent day one in the only diesel present, the 530d #xDrive , and without wishing to spoil the surprise, this really is all the car you could ever need or want (okay, maybe with the 2018 Touring body…). Nobody ever described the previous generation 530d as lacking in punch, yet BMW felt the need to turn the wick up a tad, so now there’s 265hp and 457lb ft on tap (gains of 7hp and 44lb ft respectively), and that torque figure comes on strong at just 2000rpm so there’s a real kick in the kidneys when you floor the throttle, regardless of the gear you’re in or the speed you’re already doing.
Doing that from a standstill in the rear-drive 530d used to be met with a little shimmy from the rear and a blinking traction control light, regardless of conditions, but BMW is going large with xDrive all-wheel drive for the G30, offering it on virtually all models, and though you can still have a rear-drive 530d, we’d suggest it’s at its best with xDrive.
Admittedly, those that are watching their emissions ratings won’t be enamoured by the higher figure (the 530d emits just 124g/km, but that rises to 138g/km with xDrive), but it makes for a more rewarding and capable car. Faster too. In spite of a 55kg weight penalty, the xDrive model gets off the line cleaner to record a 0-62mph time of 5.4 seconds – the reardrive car is 0.3 seconds slower. And those times were set in perfect conditions, so imagine how much of an advantage the xDrive version would have in the wet for the average driver.
We didn’t need to imagine, as the skies opened at the launch later in the day, turning the Portuguese mountain roads into, well, Portuguese mountain streams. The 5 Series was relatively unfazed, quickly shuffling power between axles to keep us on the road.
Earlier, on bone dry Tarmac, going back and forth through the same tight sequence of corners for photography, the 530d really showed its mettle. In these conditions it initially felt much like any rear-drive BMW, with strong front-end grip, decent steering weighting and great balance. Pushing a little harder and earlier on the throttle the minutest amount of slip could be detected at the rear before the electronics summoned the front axle’s help. Even then, the result was a smooth, fast exit from the corner, precisely on line and warranting a loosening of the lock, just as you would have done in a rear-drive car. Though much tidier. A little later on, through a well-sighted high-speed downhill section with a quick direction change, the 530d was sublimely balanced and surefooted.
There was no unnerving obvious weight transfer across the car, just confidence-inspiring stability. And yet it was also a lot of fun. It must be pointed out at this stage that all test vehicles at the launch featured Integral Active Steering, which is BMW’s way of saying ‘rear-wheel steering’. At low speeds, this steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front wheels to aid agility while cornering and manoeuvrability while parking, while turning the rear wheels in the same direction as the front ones at high speeds to aid stability. For the first time in a 5 Series, this system can be paired with xDrive four-wheel drive and it certainly helps make the car shrink around you on a twisty road. The standard electromechanical power steering features a variable steering ratio, too.
Our test cars were also equipped with Adaptive Drive, combining Dynamic Damper Control with Dynamic Drive active roll stabilisation. This uses electric swivel motors to change the anti-roll bar stiffness, quickly reacting to cornering forces and massively reducing body lean, while allowing a more comfortable setup in the straights. The base characteristics of the dampers are tied into the Driving Experience Control switch, but the good news here is that, even in Sport mode, we had no complaint about ride comfort. And we traversed plenty of poor road surfaces. What was more impressive over bumps and badly maintained patches of concrete was the refinement. We reckon this is where BMW has made its biggest improvements. Low tyre roar and road noise worked with remarkably good wind and engine noise suppression to help this 5 Series do a good impression of its big brother, the 7 Series.
And clearly BMW’s designers have aligned the new Five with the Seven in design terms, inside and out. The new Five’s cabin is sublime in its fit and finish in particular, with highlights including the gorgeous climate control switchgear. The interior is only a little more spacious than before, however. A less bulkylooking dashboard helps it feel roomier and that’s thanks to the new widescreen infotainment display adopted from the 7 Series. It’s actually more sophisticated in the Five and you can operate it using voice, touch, the rotary iDrive controller, or even gesture. We couldn’t really see the point of the latter given that most functions it allows can be done just as easily from the (new and shapely) steering wheel, but no doubt it will develop as a technology and this is just the first step. Of more use from the start is a much larger and crisper head-up display system. On the outside, we reckon that the 5 Series is the better proportioned car. Put it next to the old one and it dates it horribly, making it look bulbous and flabby in contrast to the G30’s newfound litheness. The overall dimensions are increased only marginally, but details like the coming together of bonnet, lights and kidney grilles up front, the Air Breathers at the side and the longer, slimmer rear lamps all help the new 5 Series look leaner and more purposeful. Saying that, the dark grey hue of the test cars, allied with relatively high-profile tyres and the modest Luxury Line specification, doesn’t make the design pop. If you want a subtle 5 Series, then this is the way to order it.
But most British buyers prefer the sportier appearance of the M Sport models and it does wonders for the shape of the car. We spent day two in a 540i M Sport in white with black wheels and it looks much more purposeful. Though the 540i will be sold exclusively in xDrive guise in the UK, we only got to test the rear-drive version in Portugal. The turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol engine is the same as the gem that debuted on the new 340i, using a single twin-scroll turbocharger to produce 340hp and 332lb ft of torque, the latter all the way from 1380 to 5200rpm.
In spite of the higher power output and a significant 100kg weight advantage over the xDriveequipped 530d, this 540i didn’t turn out to be the sporty option we expected. Sure, it’s quick by any measure, and wonderfully slop-free in its responses to braking, turning and accelerating, but you get the feeling that this particular model was developed first and foremost for comfort and refinement. The straight-six is creamy smooth, but you won’t buy it for its aural pleasures, as it’s just too quiet, even in Sport+ mode at high revs. On top of that, it’s all too easy to spin up one of the rear wheels when pulling out of a tight junction, which isn’t very satisfying – though, of course, xDrive should eradicate that. As we’ve come to expect from BMW’s excellent automatic gearboxes, the standard eight-speed Steptronic transmission makes it all too easy to extract the most from the engine and it’s perfectly judged as ever, whether you’re pootling around in Eco Pro mode or you’ve slotted the lever across into its Sport gate or you take over control of the shifts with the (new and rather more tactile) paddles behind the steering wheel. Nonetheless, the 540i should be bought if you want an effortlessly fast 5 Series that majors on refinement and quietness and you don’t want a diesel. Keener drivers will have to wait for more.
And while #BMW tantalisingly dangled the M550i xDrive in front of our faces, with vital stats to make the outgoing M5 look a little limp-wristed, it’s not due to go on sale in the UK. There will be a new M5, of course, probably arriving here in #2018 , and all the signs are that it will feature xDrive four-wheel drive. But before that, there’s still much to discover about the G30 5 Series, starting with the 520d model and soon after that the ultra-efficient #BMW-520d-EfficientDynamics-G30 with emissions as low as 102g/km. We’re also rather keen to test one of those in finished format on the standard ‘comfort’ suspension, or the lowered M Sport suspension as most British buyers specify the car.
Everything we’ve seen so far suggests that it won’t let business men and women of the world down. Even those that don’t wear running shoes to work.
Even in Sport mode we had no complaint about ride comfort.
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-G30 / #BMW-530d / #BMW-530d-G30 / #BMW-530d-xDrive-G30
ENGINE: Six-cylinder, 24-valve / BMW B57D30 / BMW-B57 / B57
MAX POWER: 265hp @ 4000rpm
MAX TORQUE: 457lb ft @ 2000-2500rpm
0-62MPH: 5.7 seconds (5.4)
TOP SPEED: 155mph (155)
ECONOMY: 60.1mpg (53.2)
EMISSIONS: 124g/km (138)
PRICE (SE): £43,835 (£45,965)
PRICE (M SPORT): £47,135 (£49,265)
Figures in brackets refer to xDrive model
The new Five’s cabin is sublime in its fit and finish, with highlights including the gorgeous climate control switchgear
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-G30 / #BMW-540i-xDrive / #BMW-540i-xDrive-G30 / #BMW-540i-G30 /
ENGINE: Six-cylinder, 24-valve / #B58B30 / #BMW-B58 / #B58
MAX POWER: 340hp @ 5500-6500rpm
MAX TORQUE: 332lb ft @ 1380-5200rpm
0-62MPH: 4.8 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph
PRICE (SE): £46,645
PRICE (M SPORT): £49,945
There’s a real kick in the kidneys when you floor the throttle, regardless of the gear you’re in or the speed you’re already doing.
- Five gremlins? I noticed that in your review of the new 530d xDrive and the 540i that there must be something wrong with the economy figures you give:Five gremlins? I noticed that in your review of the new 530d xDrive and the 540i that there must be something wrong with the economy figures you give: 530d xDrive: 60.1 mpg; 540i: 60.1 mpg?
The emissions also seem incorrect as the M240i in the same issue has an economy figure of 36.2mpg.
- Oh dear Aspi-Rant, what can we say? Well spotted and many apologies for the gremlins that crept into the spec panels for the new 5 Series test. The 53Oh dear Aspi-Rant, what can we say? Well spotted and many apologies for the gremlins that crept into the spec panels for the new 5 Series test. The 530d xDrive figures are correct but, as you’ve rightly pointed out, we’re afraid that those for the rear-wheel drive 540i were a trifle optimistic. The 540i’s vital stats should in fact be 40.9-43.5mpg (6.5-6.9 litres/100km) and emissions of between 149 and 159g/km – depending on which wheels and tyres the car comes with.
Again, many apologies for getting this wrong in the January issue, and many thanks to everyone who was kind enough to write in. More ...