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    Stunning new 5 Series driven in the UK for the ¬ first time… #BMW ’s best-ever Five? The new 5 Series packs an impressive technical punch but how does in fare on UK roads in entry-level 520d guise? Words: Bob Harper. Photography: BMW. Technical Perfection Our first drive of the UK-spec G30 5 Series in 520d form – could it be the best-ever Five? #2017

    To a certain extent I feel like I’ve grown up with the 5 Series. Back in my youth I will admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the E12 and E28 generations as I felt they were a bit too angular and old hat, but when the E34 hit the streets which coincided with my working career starting at a #BMW dealer I felt that it really personified the company. Its styling was sleek and rounded, its performance was excellent for its day and the refinement levels were better than anything I’d ever encountered. And from a service department perspective I loved it as it was bombproof and its drivers had few complaints.

    Since then we’ve gone through the E39 which was like an E34 but even better, the quirky E60 and then onto the more traditionally styled F10 generation which took the Five on to almost 7 Series levels of refinement and equipment. And now we have the all-singing, all-dancing G30 generation, a car which offers everything a Seven does with a few extra bits of technology thrown in for good measure. As I’m now into my 30th year of BMW devotion it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve driven every generation of Five so I’m itching to discover quite how this seventh generation machine stacks up against its illustrious forefathers.

    Given the glowing reports that came back from the international launch of the 530d and the 540i I’ve got a pretty good idea that it’s going to be a belter, but how will the smallest-engined model stack up? While you’d expect the more powerful models to perhaps be the pick of the range the most important model in the line up is the 520d – it’s the biggest seller by quite some margin and vital for the all-important UK fleet market. And with almost 60 percent of UK spec Fives ordered in M Sport flavour it’s the 520d M Sport we’re going to get to grips with here. Straight out of the box one of these will set you back £39,025, and this being a press car it’s been loaded up with quite a few, but by no means all, the options bringing its on the road price to an eyebrow raising £47,715.

    That’s not to say that in standard trim the 520d M Sport is devoid of kit, it’s just that there are so many tasty options that can be added. Standard kit includes two zone auto air con, an ‘airstream’ front grille, ambient interior lighting, Dakota leather, the eight-speed automatic gearbox, cruise control, Professional navigation, ConnectedDrive and LED headlights. M Sport adds the usual expected aerokit and a smattering of M specific accoutrements along with 18-inch alloys on the 520d. Our particular car also has the M Sport Plus package (at a fiver shy of £2000) which includes 19-inch M double spoke alloys (Style 664), sun protection glass and a Harman Kardon loudspeaker system. While we’re discussing the kit we should note the Technology package which includes the head-up display, enhanced Bluetooth, gesture control Wifi hotspot preparation and a 7 Series style display key. That little lot adds £1500. Then there’s a £1995 Comfort package that comprises Comfort access, reversing camera, electric front seats and folding exterior mirrors. Plus we have Variable Damper Control (£985), soft close door (£435), a glass sunroof (£995), split-folding rear seats (£335) and Piano black BMW Individual interior trim at £560.

    That’s this car’s spec done with, but in terms of vital stats we’ve got the familiar 190hp four-cylinder diesel from the F10 generation which endows the car with a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 146mph. It’s the car’s impressive on-paper economy and emissions figures that make it such a convincing fleet car though and at 65.6mpg and 114g/km one has to admit that it makes a pretty devastating case for itself. More on that later.

    I must admit that I perhaps wasn’t totally convinced by the styling when I first saw the pictures of the Five in all it’s glory for the first time, but now I’ve lived with it for a while I do admire it without perhaps loving it. I like the sleek frontal look and think the rear, especially the lights, are better resolved than those on the F10 and there’s some lovely detailing like the double Hofmeister kink but perhaps overall it looks a little bit too much like a 7 Series? Perhaps I’ll grow to love it as the months go on, but at the moment I’ll say I like it without falling head over heels for it. Aesthetics are very much a matter of personal taste so we’ll move swiftly onto the interior.

    Next month you’ll be able to read the thoughts of a current 5 Series driver on the G30 but I’m smitten with the inside of the Five. I think it looks utterly modern and stylish and it’s an ergonomic work of art. When BMW first started ‘plonking’ the display monitor on the top of the dash I thought it looked a little strange, but I’m sold now and it seems that most other manufacturers are following BMW’s lead in this respect. The monitor itself is huge and has amazing definition and the new head-up display is likewise hugely crisp and 70 per cent larger than it was previously. If I were speccing a new car heated seats would be at the top of my list, but as the new Five comes with these as standard the HUD would be first on my list. I think it’s a significant step forward in road safety and to have your speed, warnings and sat nav instructions displayed in such a crisp fashion without you having to take your eyes off the road is a major plus.

    I’m less convinced by the way you can now use the monitor as a touch screen. I suppose it simply gives customers a wider choice and I can see that it’s useful to be able to pinch and zoom on the map as you would with a tablet or smartphone, but to use it while driving is a major step back as far as I’m concerned, and in certain situations is downright dangerous as to use it you have to take your eyes off the road. With familiarity when using the iDrive controller you can devote the majority of your attention to the road while seeing the screen in the corner of your eye. There have also been a couple of changes to the Five’s steering column stalks too – the indicator stalk now moves and stays in position rather than just requiring a flick (a system that came in an the E60 Five and has been on more or less every model since). And then on the wiper stalk the button on the end which used to operate the intermittent function has been dropped and you push the stalk up to position one for intermittent. It’s not a major point but I always liked the previous set up, and it almost goes without saying that the programming for the intermittent wipers is typically awful and during my time with the car I had the wipers both dashing dementedly across the screen at full speed when it was virtually dry as well as giving the occasional desultory sweep during monsoon conditions. Given all the impressive tech this car is packing it’s almost beyond belief that this can’t be improved. It’s a range-wide problem and really needs addressing.

    Other interior observations are that the new switching for the majority of the heating and ventilation controls and the Drive Performance Control switches are a step backwards with less of a quality feel than before. The ConnectedDrive functions are impressive though, especially the online music streaming (Deezer was used in this car with excellent results) and Apple Car Play which will read out your SMS messages in a slightly amusing robotic voice. Indeed, the whole voice recognition system seems to be a big step up from previous systems. Bar the aforementioned switches the interior feels hewn from granite and has a lovely fit and finish… the only really disappointing aspect on the inside is the rear legroom which still looks pretty mean if the driver is of above average height and certainly much stingier than in the Active Tourer I drove this month – not good enough for a car that’s almost as long as an E65 Seven was.

    So, that was a bit of a nit-picking session, but ultimately what you’ll want to know is how the new Five drives. In a nutshell, brilliantly. Performance is as expected, brisk without being stellar, but this is the entry-level model and to be honest it never feels wanting in this respect. Where the car really scores is in its refinement levels – road noise is very well subdued, there’s nary a whisper of wind noise until you’re up into licence losing territory (and even then it’s pretty well muted) and it’s ride comfort is second to none. During my time with the car I covered big distances – we’re talking the best part of 10 hours behind the wheel at a time and I certainly didn’t feel overly fatigued at the end of the day and there really aren’t all that many cars you can say that about.

    I can’t comment on how a Five on the standard suspension will feel, but for the G30 it feels to me as if BMW has got the variable dampers absolutely spot on. Cruising on the motorway is a thoroughly refined experience with the car absorbing everything that our roads can throw at it in its stride. In this mode around town it’s similarly impressive, even to the extent that it rides the massive speed humps that the council has seen fi t to install around my area with aplomb – better than anything else I’ve yet driven over them in.

    When you do switch the car into Sport it really comes alive, too. The engine and gearbox are so much more eager to play and the handling tightens up significantly, making it a joy to hustle along a favourite back road. The only thing I would say is that as the car as a whole is so refined I never really felt the need to drive it hard – it does so well as a cruiser that you can almost forget that it’s a very, very tidy handler and can be driven in a sporting fashion with aplomb. Overall the drive is hugely absorbing and involving and just about the only disappointment was the economy which didn’t go very far north of 40mpg in my time with it. Maybe I’m just heavy-footed, and to be fair to the car it was nowhere near run in yet.

    So, job done then? A very stylish package with an excellent interior, a myriad of technology to choose from and an involving drive. Like me this 5 Series is the most mature version yet, but like me, it’s not grown old… not quite yet.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-G30 / #BMW-520d-M-Sport / #BMW-520d-M-Sport-G30 / #BMW-520d-G30 / #BMW-520d / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-G30 /

    ENGINE: Four-cylinder diesel, 16-valve
    CAPACITY: 1995cc
    MAX POWER: 190hp @ 4000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 295lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
    0-62MPH: 7.5 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 146mph
    ECONOMY: 65.6mpg
    EMISSIONS: 114g/km
    WEIGHT (EU): 1615kg
    PRICE (OTR): £39,025
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    Bob Harper
    One way or another I’ve done quite a few miles in Europe this month – around 3000 if my maths is correct and I have to say that on each journey the most painful part was covering the last 60 miles or so from the Channel Tunnel to my home in south east London. Of course the majority of the miles I covered abroad were on toll roads which becomes pricey if you’re covering big distances, but the lightly trafficked roads and the excellent lane discipline make a very welcome change from the UK’s congested and poorly driven carriageways. Why we can’t get the simple ‘keep left unless overtaking’ mantra into our heads is just beyond me!

    Two very different machines were used for these trips – although they did share the same 190hp engine – and both were excellent in their own way. The 220d coped rather well with the Harper skiing trip and Mrs H was almost convinced enough by it to think about replacing her X1 with an Active Tourer. Ultimately the elephant in the room reared its ugly head when she said something along the lines of ‘Why did they make it so unattractive?’ Make the next generation prettier and she’s sold. The second machine was the rather awesome 520d that I drove back from the UK launch in Spain and it truly is astonishing how much technology BMW has managed to cram into the car, even in relatively lowly #BMW-520d-G30 / #BMW-G30 / #BMW spec. I won’t spoil the feature on the car by saying more here, but if you’re lucky enough to have one of these on order I must say I’m really rather envious.

    While the new Five will be one of the most important machines that BMW launches this year there will be plenty of new cars joining the line up during 2017 and in no particular order we’re expecting to see an M3/M4 CS model come to market, the Touring version of the new 5 Series that’s just made its debut in Geneva as well as face-lifted versions of the 2 Series, too. Looking further ahead our crystal ball gazing can see a new X3 and perhaps a new M5, too. Seeing how good the standard 5 Series is we can’t wait to get to grips with the range-topper and it’s interesting to note how quickly BMW will be bringing the new car to market. One always used to have to wait quite a while for the M car to hit the streets but every month the M car was missing from the sales charts meant lost sales so M is now doing its very best to get these machines to market as soon as it can. Given the M550i xDrive’s vital stats one can only imagine how the new M5 will perform…
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    / #BMW-520d-EfficientDynamics / #BMW-520d-EfficientDynamics-G30 Confirmed / #BMW-520d-G30 / #BMW-G30 / #2017 / #BMW / #EfficientDynamics / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-G30

    BMW UK has now announced full details of its new eco champion, the 520d SE EfficientDynamics, that will go on sale in the UK in March. It uses the familiar four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel engine with the twin-scroll #TwinPower turbocharger which delivers 190hp and 295lb ft of torque available from 1750 to 2500rpm, good enough for a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds and a combined economy figure of 72.4mpg and emissions of just 102g/km (depending on wheel and tyre dimensions).

    The power unit of the #BMW-520d-SE-ED features a turbo charger mounted on anti-friction bearings, high pressure exhaust gas recirculation, a mapcontrolled oil pump and further developed common rail direct injection technology, the solenoid injectors of which ensure precise fuel dosing with a maximum pressure of 2000 bar.

    In addition to the optimised efficiency of both the engine and the standard eight-speed Steptronic transmission, the enhanced aerodynamic characteristics as well as a reduction in weight contribute towards achieving the favourable fuel consumption and CO2 emission levels. Moreover, in order to optimise emission behaviour, the 520d SE ED is equipped with #BMW-BluePerformance technology, which in addition to the particulate filter, an oxidation catalyst and a NOX storage catalyst, also features an SCR catalytic converter with #AdBlue injection technology reducing nitrogen oxide emissions even further.

    The 520d SE EfficientDynamics Saloon goes on sale from March 2017, and is priced at £37,220 OTR.
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    Bob Harper
    It really doesn’t seem possible that it’s already been a month since I was last penning these words and, as far as I can remember, I was having a little bit of a rant on how the Christmas season seems to start in late October these days. Now that we’re hurtling towards the festive season I’m starting to get into the mood, although what with deadlines compressing for the holiday season it doesn’t seem like there are enough hours in the day to get everything done. Thank God for internet shopping is all I can say… at least until you’ve opened everything and realised you clicked the wrong size or colour or you’ve ended up with 12 of something when you only wanted one! #BMW-530d-xDrive / #BMW-530d-xDrive-G30 / #BMW-530d-G30 / #BMW-5-Series-Sedan-M-Performance-Accessories-G30 / #M-Performance-Accessories / #M-Performance / #BMW

    As you’ll be able to tell from our cover image, the big news this month is the arrival of the all-new #BMW-5-Series-G30 / #BMW-5-Series which we’ve driven for the first time. Initial reactions are that it’s a superbly engineered executive express that’s considerably upped the ante in both the refinement and comfort stakes, yet it’s still a machine that’s rewarding to drive. The only caveat we have at this stage is that the cars we had to drive weren’t exactly to UK-spec and were, as tends to be the norm on international BMW launches, overloaded with all the optional equipment. BMW seems to have gone all-out with xDrive four-wheel drive on the #BMW-G30 and we were able to test the 530d in this guise, although as the car was in the Luxury trim level (which we won’t get in the UK as no one buys it) it didn’t look quite like a UK market machine. Ditto the #2017 / #BMW-540i-M-Sport-G30 which was in rear-wheel drive guise… and in the UK we’ll only be offered this model as an #xDrive . And while we’re on the subject of the 540i, who in their right mind decided to spec all the launch cars in white with black ‘rimz’? I love the shape of the new Five but this must be the most unflattering colour combination that BMW could have possibly chosen!

    Hopefully when the cars start appearing on UK roads early next year we won’t be seeing a host of white ones, but it’ll certainly be illuminating to sample an entry-level #BMW-520d-G30 without #Active-Steering , #Active-Dampers and the #Dynamic-Drive anti-roll setup. In the past we’ve tended to find that the steering and anti-roll systems actually take something away from the driving experience so I’m hopeful that a bog-standard (if any new Five can be so termed these days) will drive even more impressively than the already hugely impressive cars we were able to drive on the launch.

    As this is the last issue before Christmas more or less all that’s left for me is to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year – let’s hope that #2017 is a good one!
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