Most complete BMW 5-series ever, there are almost no compromises in this exceptional executive.
The G30 version of the BMW 5-series is still relatively new to the executive class here in the UK, and its endeavour to appeal to all in such a competitive marketplace could have left it undefined and compromised. But the BMW 5-series offers such a wide set of skills in the class, this new car could well be the most rounded and competent car yet to carry the famous badge.
Built around a new, lightened platform, the BMW 5-series offers a range of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engine options, and will also form the basis of a new upcoming M5 super saloon. But the new 5-series doesn’t have the executive sector to itself, so can it fight off the best in premium business class – namely the Audi A6, Mercedes E-class and Jaguar XF?
Available in saloon and Touring estate guise, the 5-series can’t offer quite the breadth of bodystyle choice now that the controversial 5-series GT has been dropped. That hatchbacked model’s demise is only in name, though, as a new 6-series GT has been released to replace it.
Performance and 0-100km/h time
BMW’s latest suite of engines is definitely one of the 5-series’ major draws. At the entry point is the ubiquitous 2-litre turbo diesel producing 140kW. Badged 520d, a relatively lithe kerb weight and snappy automatic gearbox mean it will reach 100km/h in around 7.5 seconds. The Mercedes-Benz E220 d is both quicker and more efficient on paper, but the differences are negligible in the real world.
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The other four-cylinder engine is found in the 530i, which like the 3-series has dropped two cylinders despite the historical nameplate. The 0-100km/h dash is dealt with in a brisk 6.2 seconds, but performance all-round is impressive, certainly for something that can still return over 50mpg on the combined cycle.
Confusingly, the 530d retains its inline-six engine, besting the 530i by half a second in the 0-100km/h sprint. The 530d is perhaps most enchanting at speed however, as the stout torque figure gives supreme performance at any velocity. BMW has ventured close to internal combustion perfection in its latest set of modular six-cylinder engines.
Top of the tree is the 540i, doing the deed in just 4.8 seconds, but the petrol powered straight-six is not the most impressive 5-series engine and plays second fiddle to the supremely talented diesel.
Engine and gearbox
The G30 5-series is still in its infancy in the UK, so engine choices have not yet expanded to the variety of its predecessor. Currently, all engine options are based off BMW’s latest modular engine architecture, each sharing a basic 500cc per cylinder capacity and 8-speed ZF torque converter automatic.
The entry-level 520d utilises the B47 engine that is used throughout the BMW and Mini range. Overall power figures are not especially ground breaking in comparison to rivals at 187bhp at 4000rpm and 400Nm of torque from 1750rpm, but the engine’s ability to generate considerable shove at low rpm paired with a slick and intuitive transmission means you rarely feel short changed compared to the six-cylinder options.
The BMW 530i uses the B48 four-cylinder, producing a stout 210kW at 5200rpm and 350Nm of torque from a lowly 1450rpm. It’s that torque figure that reflects what the 530i is like to drive, majoring on low-end torque much like the diesels.
The 530d eschews the downsizing trend and keeps its six-cylinder engine, using the all-new B48 unit that already serves in the 7-series. This new six-cylinder diesel is super impressive, being hushed at all speeds, having almost no turbo lag and feeling incredibly strong at low rpm thanks to its 620Nm of torque. Power is rated at 195kW. As a result, despite our usual petrol tendencies, in the 5-series, it is the 530d that is our pick of the range.
The 540i, available only with xDrive all-wheel drive, can’t match the torque figure of the 530d with only 450Nm, so despite a 55kW (250kW in total) advantage over the diesel, doesn’t really feel that much faster. The 540i also does without any petrol-like qualities to rationalise its fuel type, being utterly refined, but without any real character.
If only a hybrid will suffice, BMW has recently launched the 530e iPerformance, complete with a roughly 30 mile electric range. Producing a total power output of 185kW and 420Nm of torque, the 530e utilises a combination of a 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine and an electric motor and lithium ion battery pack.
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Coming later this year will be an obligatory M5, sharing the same basic 4.4-litre V8 twin turbo with the outgoing car, only this time with over 445kW and all-wheel drive. Unfortunately, BMW are not (for now anyway) willing to offer the two M Performance derivatives that are available in other markets in the UK. The M550i and M550d both have startling performance, the former V8 petrol out sprinting the previous M5 and the latter making use of four (!) turbochargers on its 3-litre diesel engine.