2017 BMW 5 Series First Drive

The brand from Bavaria has always been cutting edge, so when it came time to introduce the 2017 BMW 5 Series, what better place than in Palo Alto, the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. As do most manufacturers, BMW, too, has a Research & Development facility right in the heart of the state’s tech corridor, which allows them to stay competitive with most aspects of car development including the automated automobile.

BMW 5 Series

Seventh-generation.
The BMW 5 Series is a four-door, five-passenger mid-level executive-class sports sedan. Built in Dingolfing, Germany, it will be offered in North America with two engines including a 2.0-liter TwinPower turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine (530i) that produces 248-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Your second choice is a 3.0-liter TwinPower turbocharged inline six-cylinder (540i), which now produces an additional 35 horsepower. Netting 335 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, both powerplants sidle up to an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive ($2,300) is an option, and just the ticket for the brand to go head-to-head with Audi’s A6 Quattro, the Lexus GS350 AWD and Mercedes-Benz E Series 4Matic. There is little doubt that an M550 and M5 Performance model will soon be on tap as well. It’s just a matter of time.

Just the same, that doesn’t mean the 530i isn’t very spritely. It manages a 0-60 launch in 6.0-seconds while the 540i completes the same sprint in 4.9-seconds. Equipped with the M Sport package, the top speed for both vehicles jumps from 130- to 155-mph.

Tiny steps, big results.
You won’t really feel changes in the length, width and height of the new 5 Series unless you are sitting in the rear seat which now has an additional 1.2-inches of legroom. The use of high-strength steel and other structural innovations that helped the new sedan shed about 137-pounds. The weight reduction and improved fuel efficiency should allow the 530i to achieve mileage of 24 city / 34 highway, while the 540i should check in at 20 city / 30 highway. We say should because our tester was so heavily zooted that it probably regained all the weight it lost.

The High Line.
The interior of the 2017 BMW 5 Series maintains many of the features that made it a standout in years past. Borrowing from the company’s 7 Series flagship, the new 5 includes the iDrive 6.0 controller with track padding via finger traces. The system also includes BMW’s Gesture controls,

BMW 5 Series Gesture control.

which are activated by pointing in the proximity of the 10.25-inch HD display screen. First seen in last year’s 7 Series, a driver can rearrange function tiles, and map sizes through a pinching of two fingers, while a swirl of a pointer finger raises and lowers audio system volume.

For a partial performance boost, our 530i and 540i testers were both equipped with the M Sport Package ($2,600) that feature M Aero kits with larger air intakes, rocker panels, rear diffuser and exhaust system bits. The car rides slightly lower than normal thanks to the M Sport suspension and 19-inch sport wheels. The 20-way Luxury Seating Package offered heating, ventilation, and a massaging function that could easily lull you to sleep- if you were in the passenger seat.

From an in-car entertainment standpoint, the new 5 series is adequately equipped with a standard 205-watt audio system. Still, buyers will likely choose the mid-level ($825) Harman Kardon system or step up to the plate for the 1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system, for a rather icy $4,200, which can be augmented by a rear seat, dual screen entertainment system for another $2,200.

Technology talk.
There is enough new technology on board the new BMW 5 Series to make it feel right at home in the middle of Las Vegas’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Drive Dynamics Control allows drivers to choose settings ranging from ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport and optional Adaptive modes. In adaptive mode, steering, transmission and damper controls are set and infinitely adjustable according to road surfaces and locations that are determined by the active BMW Navigation Professional system which sends realtime road conditions to the unit. The same navigation system can also read topography to sense a grade climb, and will then downshift according to optimal engine and fuel efficiency settings.

BMW 5 Series

One of the slickest features of the new BMW 5 Series comes from the Remote Control Parking system that is exclusive to the 540i model. Slightly smaller than a smartphone, the remote control key fob allows a driver to exit the vehicle, say for example, in the case of a narrow parking slip, and then “drive the vehicle” via a finger trace, into its parking spot. It really does work.

Wheel time.
Driving the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder found a capable engine that will likely be the brand’s best selling mill. The 530i’s 248 horses delivered with minimal lag, and the 258 lb-ft of torque appeared at a somnambulistic 1,420 rpm. A steadily progressing box of gears provided smooth shifts from the Steptronic eight-speed, almost to the point that changes were imperceptible. The optional Integral Active Steering was so well sorted, we didn’t know the car was even equipped with it, until we noticed it on the window sticker.

The higher performance 540i managed to appeal to our emotions in a more visceral sense. With a positive push into the seats the moment we stepped on the accelerator, to the audible pop from the six-cylinder’s exhaust gate, the car offered a satisfying jolt to the senses, at every turn. The new 5 Series will have you opting for the long way home, nearly every time.

To gain access to this information, Mark Elias Media Services attended an event sponsored by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

2017 BMW 5-Series Sedan
Base MSRP: BMW 530i $51,200. As tested: $74,150 (includes $995 Destination).
Base MSRP: BMW 540i $56,450. As tested: $81,910 (includes $995 Destination).

Key Specs
Cylinders: 4 (530i), 6 (540i)
Displacement: 2.0-liter (530i)3.0-liter (540i)
Power: 248 hp @ 5200 rpm (530i)
335 hp @ 5500 rpm (540i)
Torque: 258 lb-ft @1,450 rpm
332 lb-ft @1,380 rpm
Fuel System: Direct Injection
Fuel: Premium
Acceleration: 0-60mph in 5.8 (530i) and 4.7 (540i) seconds
Drive Type RWD
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic
Tire Size: 245 /45 R18
Unladen Weight: 3,815-pounds
Length: 194.6-inches
Width: 73.5-inches
Height: 58.2-inches
Wheelbase: 117.1-inches
Cargo Volume: 18.7-cubic feet
Cd: 0.26
City: 24 (530i) 20 (540i)
Highway: 34 (530i) 30 (540i)
Combined: 27 (530i) 24 (540i)

 

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