When the first 5 Series appeared, in 1972, it heralded the introduction of a naming system for BMW model designations that are still used today. The BMW 520 succeeded the BMW 2000 Neue Klasse model.
Once seated with the engine purring, you immediately feel engaged. The cabin is covered in high-quality tactile materials borrowed from its big brother, the 7 Series. The cockpit shimmers with crisp details and instruments that change depending on the desired driving mode.
The habitability is partly due to the lowered dashboard and the freestanding screen, but also to the enlarged dimensions of the passenger compartment, particularly in terms of elbow and shoulder space. Tall rear passengers also have more room to spread out, with multiple places to stow their belongings, including a center map pocket, cupholders and stylish door bins. The generous feeling of space also flows into the trunk. The loading lip has been lowered compared to its predecessor and offers a luggage capacity of around 530 litres.
While forward visibility around the A-pillars is good, the thick rear pillars make reversing less easy; the reversing camera and parking sensors take over in this regard. The trunk lid can be opened by pressing a button on the driver’s door panel, on the key fob or simply by manually releasing the trunk handle. A button under the trunk lid can close it.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Content from our partners
At the center of the 5 Series dash is a 12.3-inch (previously 10.25-inch) touchscreen powered by the latest 7.0 operating system, allowing the driver to control a variety of media, phone, navigation, connectivity and vehicle settings.
The BMW Live Cockpit Professional features a digital display cluster comprising the instrument cluster and touchscreen. Connected Package Professional is included on all models, including BMW TeleServices, Intelligent Emergency Call, Real Time Traffic Information with Hazard Warning, Remote Services and Concierge Services.
The switch to the BMW 7 operating system also brings the remote software upgrade function to the 5 Series. All updates can be imported over the air either on a smartphone via BMW Connected or directly in the car using its integrated SIM card.
BMW Live Cockpit Professional comes with optimized smartphone integration; in addition to Apple CarPlay, the 5 Series’ operating system will also host Android Auto. This allows access to digital services such as Google Assistant, Google Maps, music streaming services like Spotify and Amazon Music, and the messaging service WhatsApp.
The latest version of the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant expands the voice control function. You can now use your voice to adjust the air conditioning. The head-up display’s projection area was a delight to look at and is about 70 per cent larger than in the previous model. The Harman Kardon surround sound system is another delight.
A nice gesture
If you like the idea of talking to your car to operate various functions, the new 5 Series lets you wave and sweep it. Since pushing and pinching a touchscreen while driving can be distracting, using hand gestures and even eye movements to control the climate and change radio channels is considered the next best thing. While our car’s gesture control didn’t always react to the action we wanted, it drew cheers and applause from the backseat occupants when it performed. We still prefer to use the steering wheel controls, which are quick and intuitive.
Provide driver assistance when needed
The driver assistance system advances the 5 Series on the path to automated driving. This includes technologies such as dynamic cruise control and a speed limit information system. The latter can also take into account speed restrictions further along the driver’s route, encouraging a more proactive driving style. The optional Driving Assistant Plus safety package includes lane keeping assistant, lane departure warning system and lane departure warning. Additionally, Side Collision Warning alerts drivers with a visual signal or steering wheel vibration that another vehicle is encroaching on the side.
Another outstanding feature contained in the Driving Assist Plus package is Evasion Assist. If a quick lane change is needed because an obstacle has suddenly appeared in the driver’s path, Evasion Assist – which operates at speeds of up to 99mph, perfect for the German Autobahn – takes support the necessary evasive steering action.
The refreshed 5 Series also comes with a Drive Recorder option coupled with Parking Assistant Plus which uses built-in cameras to record video footage from various points around the vehicle, before storing the recordings so they can be viewed further. later on the control screen or exported via the USB port. Recordings can be up to 40 seconds long, including the 20 seconds of video recorded immediately before Drive Recorder was activated and the next 20 seconds. In the event of a collision, the 20 seconds up to the moment of impact and the following 20 seconds are automatically recorded and saved.
Compared to its ancestors, the latest 5 Series is slightly larger, i.e. 36mm longer than the outgoing model (at 4,935mm), 6mm wider (1,868mm) and 2mm longer high (1,466 mm). Its wheelbase measures 2,975mm, an increase of 7mm.
Using a material mix of aluminium, high-tensile steels and magnesium, the new 5 Series is 100kg lighter than the previous model, while body strength and torsional rigidity have been increased.
A low center of gravity, a balanced axle load ratio and a further reduction of the unsprung masses have advantages for both dynamics and comfort. Specifically, the 5 Series features a new range of modular engines featuring thermodynamic, lightweight aluminum construction. It uses lightweight metal components to keep the unsprung mass as low as possible. Lightweight metal components are also used in the new five-link rear suspension, which is lighter and stiffer than the previous model and provides excellent wheel placement and tracking stability in all driving situations.
Further examples of BMW’s attention to detail are the cast magnesium dashboard support, which is up to 2 kg lighter than the steel version used on the previous model. Not to mention the trunk lid, which for the first time is entirely made of aluminum, which saves 4.2 kg. The lightweight doors weigh just 6kg each and 9kg has been saved on the wheel/tyre/brake assemblies.
Constellium provides aluminum automotive body sheet metal and crash management systems for the 5 Series, including its hybrid and touring models. Constellium also supplies coils used for interior and exterior applications such as doors, roofs, fenders, deck covers and structural parts. Additionally, Constellium designed and produced the rear crash management system, including integrated support for the exhaust system.
On the road
The 5 Series comes in three trim levels: SE, M Sport and M Sport Edition. The variant we took for a spin was the 520d XDrive M Sport Touring which proved to be the perfect companion for some leisurely drives. The interior ticks all the boxes and the build quality is impeccable. It also felt pampered and balanced through every turn thanks to its adaptive suspension, providing a fabulous driving experience. Left to its own devices, the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission performed well.
For a diesel, the 5 Series is surprisingly quiet thanks to something the automaker calls Syntak (Synergy Thermoacoustic Capsule). Lightweight sound deadening materials, encapsulating the engine and transmission, combine with a series of inventive touches to reduce volume levels, while delivering weight and fuel savings. Syntak also improves powertrain heat retention, which in turn leads to reduced fuel consumption.
Both the sedan and the station wagon version are produced at the BMW plant in Dingolfing, Germany. The sedan is also built by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. A staple of the executive car class, this popular model rivals the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 and Volvo S90.