We drive BMW's hotly anticipated new 5 Series on Irish roads
Pros: Luxurious interior, sharpened styling and drive, superb technology additions
Cons: More expensive than before
This is the newly-updated BMW 5 Series which has just arrived in Ireland and it’s one of the most anticipated models to go on sale in 2017. Boasting a more luxurious interior, improved engines and a host of exciting new technology, it seems the new 5 Series lives up to the hype too. It comes at a price however, as the entry level model is now more expensive than before and higher than class alternatives like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Jaguar XF. We recently spent a week with the new 5 Series on Irish roads to see if it can dominate the executive segment in 2017.
What is it like?
In terms of styling, the new 5 Series can be viewed as a steady evolution from its predecessor, rather than an outright redesign. The most notable changes include more pronounced sculpting along the doors and side panels, reshaped lights at the rear and also the addition of air curtains on the side of the car in similar fashion to the latest BMW 6 Series. The new 5 Series is longer and wider than its predecessor, but it is beautifully proportioned nonetheless. Our test car is a high specification M Sport model with sporty 20-inch alloy wheels, but base SE models are equipped with lighter 10-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels.
It’s easier to point out the differences between the old and new 5 series when you step inside. From the driver’s seat, there is more elbow and shoulder room, which lends the cabin a more spacious feel than before, while rear seat passengers are treated to more leg room courtesy of a longer chassis. Boot space has also been increased slightly to 530 litres which adds a touch of practicality. A new large 10.25 inch infotainment screen sits at the centre of the dashboard controlled with a rotary dial as before, and this adds a more modern feel to the cabin, while our test car features BMW's optional ‘Gesture Control’ technology that makes it possible to answer calls, turn up and down the volume and lots more by simply waving a hand in the air; which is lots of fun and quite easy to use.
The new 5 Series is available with a plethora of different 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre petrol and diesel engines, and we drove the range-topping diesel model, the 530d. The 530d features a revised 3.0-litre turbocharged six cylinder diesel engine that produces 261bhp and a thunderous 620Nm of torque, and our test car also has BMW’s optional X Drive all-wheel drive system. This means it is impressively fast for a large saloon; 0-100km/h taking just 5.4 seconds! The smaller 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel 520d model is likely to be a more popular choice with Irish buyers however due to higher economy an, and we look forward to driving it in the coming months. BMW’s eight speed automatic transmission is standard on all models and shifts seamlessly with tiptronic gear shift paddles available too.
The use of aluminium body work, suspension and chassis components has enabled the new 5 Series to shed 100kg in weight from its predecessor. This, combined with changes to the front suspension results in much improved handling out on the road; with sharp steering and a surefooted nature in tight turns, it’s incredibly confidence inspiring to drive particularly with the optional X Drive all-wheel drive which performed superbly during a drive on twisty and wet back roads in the Kerry mountains. Our test car also has BMW’s optional Variable Damper Control (VDC) which further enhances the handling of the 5 Series, but it’s an expensive add-on at €1529.
We covered over 1500 kilometres in the new 5 Series from Dublin to Kerry, to Waterford and back to the capital again, and the 530d proved quite frugal all the while. We regularly managed 6.0-litres per 100 kilometres in fuel economy (circa 47MPG) during this test with some spirited driving in between, while road tax at €280 is considerably low for such a powerful engine. The entry-level 520d with its more conservative 2.0-litre diesel engine will offer even better economy credentials and a lower emmisions output for lower cost motor tax.
Prices for the new 5 Series have been increased and the entry level 520d SE version now starts at €52,800, which is considerably more expensive than the comparable Mercedes Benz E-Class and Jaguar XF. That said, the level of specification on base models has been improved with automatic transmission, sport steering wheel, heated front seats and BMW’s digital cockpit all standard fare. Our M Sport specification test car is loaded with desirable features like a superb upgraded Harmon Kardon sound system and a display key and head-up display system which are features from BMW's technology package, so it is considerably more expensive than most. Those who can afford to spec these additional extras should as it adds an extra element of luxury to the new 5 Series.
Carzone verdict: 4.5/5
The new 5 Series has been eagerly anticipated and it has certainly been well worth the wait, as it is significantly improveed and sets a new standard in the ever-competitive executive segment. BMW has delivered a strong balance of development from its handling and engines, right through to the vibrant new technology features which you would expect to only feature in higher end models. The styling changes may be too tame for some and the entry pricing has indeed increased, but when you consider the additional spec, comfort and tech on offer, the new 5 Series makes for an exceptionally good purchase.