With the revamped Mercedes-Benz E-class looming on the horizon, as well as Audi’s excellent A6 already making new friends, BMW has picked an opportune moment to spruce up its evergreen exec-mobile, the 5-series.
Externally and internally, there are lots of evolutionary nips and tucks but the basic formula of this seventh generation is unchanged. When you’ve sold 600,000 examples of a set of wheels it takes a brave manufacturer to throw caution to the wind.
So, once you’ve picked your trim levels (SE, M Sport and M Sport Edition) there’s a few key highlights to obsess over, namely: a redesigned front grille (it’s wider and looks sharper); restyled headlights with L-shaped running lights and a Laserlight option; reworked tail-lights (with blacked-out segments); four new colour options plus funky trapezoidal exhaust pipes and a limited edition M Sport Edition package.
Externally and internally, there are lots of evolutionary nips and tucks but the basic formula of this seventh generation is unchanged…
Inside, techno-savvy drivers will be pleased to see that Android Auto has been integrated into the iDrive infotainment system (260mm display as standard, with the option of 312mm), along with Cupertino’s CarPlay.
There’s a full display of connected Smartphone apps available but many will be happy enough with the onboard (now cloud-based) sat-nav system. Use the partnering BMW app and you can select a destination address from your smartphone while outside the car, send it wirelessly to the wheels and be ready to head off when you step inside. Neat.
As before, the seventh generation of this top-seller is available in both saloon and touring guises but there are now a greater range of options for the eco-conscious, with its 48v mild-hybrid (ie non plug-in) electric system finding its way onto all 5 series petrol/diesel cars fitted with four/six cylinders (it was present on just one variant last year). Like manual gearboxes? Tough, eight-speed Steptronic is what you’ll get, not much of a sacrifice, it has to be said.
Buyers craving a ‘full-fat’ plug-in Hybrid experience will be able to pick from five variants including eDrive 530E saloon/touring variants, both offering a 42 mile range on battery power alone. One of the other new plug-in alternatives comes in the form of the 4WD-equipped 545e xDrive model, delivering a serious combined 389bhp from its turbocharged, in-line six-cylinder 3.0-litre engine. Keen drivers will be rewarded with a 0-62mph time of 4.7sec plus an electric-only range of 35 miles on the odd occasion they’re feeling virtuous.
But, in TLR’s humble opinion, the star of the UK range could be the M550i x-Drive. It’s not ‘new’ – it’s been available in continental Europe since last year – but with 530bhp V8 under the hood and a 0.62mph time of 3.8 seconds, we’re betting that a fair few C-suite types will be scheduling one-on-one Zoom conversations with their finance chiefs.
We should probably talk more about the options list. Take a deep breath. In trad BMW fashion, there’s plenty to pick from. Specify all of them, in fact, and you can add circa £37k to the notional cost of your next 5-series… pretty much what you’d pay for the base model itself.
Buyers on more modest budgets can order the ‘cooking’ saloon and touring variants now (deliveries arrive in July), starting at £37,480 for the basic 520i SE saloon: budget another £2250 if you need the spaniel-friendly version.
The £54,945 545e xDrive saloon won’t go into production until November but, in all honesty, we TLR teamsters would actually be happy to settle for the mighty M550i xDrive, a snip at a mere £67,595. Just gotta find somebody now who wants to buy our kidneys…