The 5 Series doesn’t feel heavy through corners and offers good dynamic qualities
Every time BMW launches a new 5 Series, you can always expect a car that comes with the latest technologies the automotive world has to offer.
Heading BMW’s product lineup for 2017 is the new 5 Series executive saloon (often referred to as the G30), which competes against fellow German rivals namely the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6, as well as the Volvo S90.
The latest 5 Series saloon is available in the Thai market in both petrol and diesel versions. While the fully-equipped 530i M Sport comes with a price tag of Bt4.399 million, the more affordable 520d Luxury and 520d Luxury Limited are priced at Bt3.899 million and Bt3.599 million respectively.
Picking up the 520d Luxury at BMW’s pre-delivery centre late last month, I felt the 5 Series has grown into a pretty large saloon. “Wasn’t the 7 Series this big several generations ago?” I wondered.
Large the car may be -- it shares the basic platform with the 7 Series -- the new model has gone through major weight-saving measures. Extensive use of aluminium for the structure, body panels and suspension, makes the new 5 Series as much as 100kgs lighter than its predecessor. Meanwhile, the torsional stiffness has been improved to deliver dynamic handling and long-distance comfort. The new body design is also more aerodynamic, scoring a remarkable Cd of 0.22.
In terms of design, it looks pretty similar to the outgoing model, with no dramatic changes. But inside there are, apart from the use of aluminium for the whole trunk lid and body panels and suspension. Unsprung weight has been reduced by 9kgs, BMW said.
The wheelbase of the car has been extended by 7mm while the track has also been widened, which is beneficial for high-speed stability as well as ride comfort and interior space (the boot holds 530 litres).
Like the 7 Series, the new 5 Series comes with a luxurious soft-closing door function and great-looking but bulky display remote key that features a small touchscreen. Apart from the usual smart entry and remote functions (including remote start), the driver is able to access information such as fuel level and remaining driving range, as well as service information.
The 520d may seem like an “entry-level” model from the 5 series lineup, but with any BMW, you can also be sure that it would still maintain that “Sheer Driving Pleasure” character.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine develops 190hp and 400Nm, and features a twin-geometry turbocharger for lag-free acceleration, propelling the car from 0-100km/h in 7.5 seconds and to a top speed of 235km/h. A smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic contributes to the quick acceleration, although it could be jerky at times when moving at low speeds.
All the torque is available from below 2,000rpm and the 520d never seems to run out of breath, particularly when driven in sport mode offering quicker throttle response.
Despite its size, the 5 Series doesn’t feel heavy through corners (thanks to the weight savings) and offers good dynamic qualities. You can feel that the front double wishbone suspension and rear multi-link suspension has been tuned to offer more comfort by smoothening out shock and vibrations. But it’s still far from comfortable (like the E-Class) and won’t help much when driving over speed bumps and nasty potholes.
The good part is, it’s as fun to drive as you’d expect from any BMW, providing great stability and control. BMW says it has been working on lowering the centre of gravity in the new car and it surely has paid off, helping the 5 Series to glide through corners swiftly.
The 520d Luxury doesn’t get some of the exciting features offered in the 530i M Sport, such as the Parking Assistance functions that allow you to use the remote to steer the car into tight parking slots while standing outside. But you still get a 10.25-inch touchscreen (8.8-inch for the Limited version) and Hand Gesture function for the audio system.
The dashboard features moving graphics and special displays for comfort and sport modes. The sports steering comes with a bunch of controls for various systems ranging from entertainment to cruise control and onboard computer.
The cabin welcomes occupants with nice leather seats and three different ambient lighting. While ride comfort isn’t its strongest point, the low level of wind and road noise that enters the cabin keeps it peaceful all the time. The quality of the interior is excellent as well, whether in terms of materials or attention to details.
There are plenty of airbags and driver assistance systems, including cruise control with braking, adaptive LED headlights with high beam assistant and park distance control.
Although a large number of the 5 Series diesel would end up as executive cars and hotel limos, it’s still a mighty sports saloon and is a car you want to drive rather than being driven in.
BMW 520d Luxury Specs
Engine: 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve common-rail with turbocharger
Bore and stroke: 90.0x84.0mm
Compression ratio: 16.5
Max power: 190hp/4,000rpm
Max torque: 400/1,750-2,500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Final drive ratio: 2.929
0-100kmh: 7.5 secs
Top speed: 235km/h
Average fuel economy: 20km/litre
Average CO2: 132g/km
Suspension (f/r): double wishbone, stabilizer/multi-link, stabilizer
Steering: powered rack-and-pinion
Turning circle: 12.05 metres
Brakes (f/r): vented disc/vented disc
Track (f/r): 1,605/1,630
Weight: approx. 1,560kgs
Wheels: 18-inch light alloy
Tyres: 245/45 R18
Fuel tank capacity: litres
Price: Bt3.899 million
Distributor: BMW Group Thailand Ltd