- Post is under moderationStunning 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
MAX POWER: 190hp @ 4000rpm
MAX TORQUE: 295lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
0-62MPH: 7.5 seconds
TOP SPEED: 146mph
WEIGHT (EU): 1615kg
PRICE (OTR): £39,025Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAmar Chaudhry F10 #BMW-520d-M-Sport / #BMW-F10 / #BMW-520-SE / #BMW-520d-SE-F10 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-F10 / #BMW / #BMW-520d-M-Sport-F10 / #BMW
The F10 5 Series has plenty of modding potential and Amar has certainly been tapping into it, wasting no time when it came to getting his recent purchase to stand out from the crowd. So far he’s added gloss black kidney grilles bearing the M logo, a carbon fibre front splitter and an M Sport boot lip spoiler. A big car like the F10 needs some serious wheels and Amar’s choice is spot-on, with a set of monster MK Motorsport 20s stuffed under the arches, measuring 9” up front and 11” at the rear, with massive dishes all-round and yellow calipers adding the finishing touch.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.