BMW’s all-new 2017 5 series stirs up a technology tsunami

In four flavors at first, with 248hp all the way to 456hp and a plug-in hybrid model.

Jim Resnick



Pleasing widely diverse masters can be a death sentence. For BMW's newest 2017 5 series sedan, competing interests tug on it in a multitude of different directions. The traditional BMW enthusiast who factors fun first needs all the best of BMW's driving machine DNA—and needs it close to the skin. Those needy for general luxury prefer isolation rather than inclusion in the driving process. The tech-focused need digital entertainment. So this is a veritable three-ring circus of sport sedan requirements. BMW's last-generation 5 series garnered mixed feelings, so with the all-new G30 platform 5 series, BMW hopes to reboot impressions, and we've driven it.
Launching globally on February 11, the new 5 is actually a bit lighter than the last iteration, BMW quoting a weight loss of as much as 137lb (62kg) from the outgoing model, depending on exact model compared. The new 5 also comes out of the starting gate with several engine configurations. The bottom of the range here in the US is the 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, issuing 248hp (185kW) and 258lb-ft (350Nm) in the 530i, netting acceleration to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds or 5.8 when equipped with BMW's "xDrive" all-wheel-drive. A 3.0L, 335hp (265kW) inline six, which also generates 332lb-ft (450Nm) of torque, powers the 540i to 60mph in just 4.9 seconds or 4.7 seconds with xDrive. Later this spring, the M550i with all-wheel drive will debut, powered by a 456hp (347kW) turbocharged V8 packing 480lb-ft (650Nm) of torque, promising even quicker, 3.9-second 0 to 60 blasts, quicker than the outgoing M5.
But acceleration alone does not a luxury car make. Come spring, along with the M550i hot rod, BMW will also introduce a new 530e which just might be the most interesting of the new 5 sedans as the latest in BMW’s iPerformance vehicle lineup using the company's latest eDrive plug-in powertrain. The BMW 530e combines the 180-hp (134kW), 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an electric motor that makes 95 hp (70kW) and 184 lb-ft (250Nm) of torque to net 248 hp and 310 lb-ft (420Nm) of torque. The 530e will also drive in full electric mode, giving about 28 miles of EV range. It will recharge fully in seven hours off of 120V current, but with BMW's charging station, a full recharge will take only three hours. On a full charge, the 530e can reach a maximum of 87mph (140km/h) in max eDrive mode and 56mph (90km/h) in auto eDrive.


Jim Resnick

While this is an all new 5 series, you'd be hard pressed to notice from the outside, though the new car actually looks more like a larger current 3 series with an upswept trunk lid and it's wide and amoeba-ish tail lights. A higher nose and larger kidney-shaped grilles dominate but appear only subtly different compared to the old 5. Along with much of the new car's platform borrowing from the larger 7 series, the new 5's flanks echo the 7, too, aside from a more prominent belt line.
Almost every interior surface is swathed in soft, foam-backed materials, including the dash top. The steering wheel's rim is remarkably thick, feeling decidedly sporty.
The new 5's infotainment system can be fed input through five different methods, including a rotary iDrive knob, touchscreen, voice control, touch input, and gesture control borrowed from the 7 series. The latter uses a gaggle of sensors that watch for fingers and hands to change volume, radio stations, or skip tracks by circling, waving, or otherwise gesturing the touchscreen. While fascinating from a technical standpoint, it did not bowl us over in actual use.
With the optional multi-contour seats, controls on the sides of the seats call up the seating menu on the iDrive screen as you touch them... which becomes maddening over time. Merely groping to change a seatback angle or a minor tweak of the seat changes the dashboard display, even if you're relying on it for navigation. While it seems like a customer-pleasing effort, it backfired with us on a day-long drive.
The revamped iDrive now uses large category tiles displayed three at a time for the system’s six major functions. Touching one brings that function up to full size, while touching the display's header opens that function's menu.
The 10.2-inch touchscreen and the now-familiar iDrive controller are more effective and intuitive. Media, ventilation, seat settings (including optional massage), navigation, and Apple CarPlay can all be tweaked by rotary dial or touchscreen. Worthy of note, too, this is one of the first cars on the market to run CarPlay wirelessly. However, Android users are simply out of luck with the new 5 series. BMW does not offer it at all and has no timetable to introduce it.
BMW is hot on head-up displays, too, and the new 5-Series' grows in size by 75 percent in the new car. While on the subject of driver's aids, the revised lane keeping holds the 5 series in line for quite a long period without hands on before a warning implores you to grab the wheel. We informally clocked it at about 40 seconds. (Of course, we were paying vigilant attention to the road and were ready to grab the wheel at any time.)


Jim Resnick

More tech features include a remote 3D view for your smart phone where you can monitor your vehicle using the cameras and sensors in the car feeding the phone and an On Street Parking Info (OSPI) app where you select a street that might have on-street open parking and a resulting assist in finding a spot. An available automated parking system can slide the 5 into parallel or perpendicular parking spots by handling the steering, transmission, throttle, and brakes. The driver can also stand outside, directing the 5 into a tight space using the display key. The navigation system also works with an app from ParkNow, allowing drivers to reserve parking at one of ParkNow's associated garages.
More conventional electronics include an optional 16-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system, driven by 1,400 watts. To put that power into a bit of perspective, the bass and guitar amplifier company Ampeg debuted the seminal and hernia-inducing, 97-pound SVT amp head in 1969 with 14 vacuum tubes for stadium rock concerts. The separate speaker cabinets weighed 104 pounds each. These amps filled huge stadiums and caused deafness at 25 feet with just 300 watts. This car has, you know, more.
But in the end, an ultimate driving machine had better drive, well, ultimately.
A central question is if the new 5 series is a great driving partner, where the outgoing 5 had some flaws. And that answer is "yes." BMW's optional Integral Active Steering (IAS) couples rear-wheel steering with a variable ratio for the front wheels, a system that won few fans (and not this writer) in the outgoing 5 series. A revised system debuts here, now with a simple rack rather than the old system's planetary gearset. The ratio quickens as you dial in more steering lock, but it's far more predictable and pleasing than the old system. Unfortunately, this doesn't help steering feel much, which is overboosted and light on center but firms up with velocity and aggressive use.
The engine itself is a bit of an overachiever, squirting the big 5 from corner to corner with alacrity. If anything, the turbo six is too quiet. It's a slightly eerie sensation, dancing with a willing sports sedan over a twisty ribbon of tarmac, paddling one's way up and down the gearbox in nearly Rolls-Royce levels of mufflage.
All lane-keeping systems are not created equal by any means, and the new 5's system lacks, well, great assistance. It navigated us into several obstacles like curbs and medians (though we took over, of course) and bounced us between lane markings on the highway like a slow, expensive, Bavarian pinball. Perhaps this is BMW's subtle way of accentuating their 40-plus-year-old slogan.
The new 5 series does cut a sporting step over winding roads, though we only drove cars with the optional M sport package, the 540i pictured ringing in at $81,910, though the 5 will start at $51,200. It's never overbearing with wheels crashing against bumps and dartiness. In fact, the new 5 with M sport suspension strikes a compromise as sporting as is likely prudent between ride comfort and athletic handling.
If it only cut a slightly more dashing figure.
Listing image by Jim Resnick
BMW’s all-new 2017 5 series stirs up a technology tsunami Reviewed by Bizpodia on 03:12 Rating: 5

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