The 2013 BMW 5 Series is almost here and, while it may not look too different to past models, it comes packed with a raft of features that'll make owners of the previous car green with envy. So, without further ado, here are the key specs that should help make this executive cruiser one of the best in the business.
#1: It looks exactly the same as the old one
You'll need a magnifying glass and an intimate knowledge of BMWs past to spot the differences between the 2013 car and its predecessor, but they're definitely there. BMW says the surrounds of the kidney grille at the front have additional contour lines and the lower air intakes and lower apron are ever so slightly tweaked. It also claims the rear apron has an extra crease and the rear lights are more sharply contoured. We'll take their word for it. New colours and light-alloy wheels have also been added to the mix.
#2: It has bigger cup holders
The 2013 BMW 5 Series features a slightly tweaked interior, and by slight we mean practically bugger all has changed. That said, the car's storage compartments and cup holders in the centre console are now bigger than ever, so you can get a pair of Starbucks grande venti whatevers in there without breaking a sweat. New upholstery colours and interior trim elements also make an appearance. More useful, perhaps, is the fact the boot in the Gran Turismo model, has increased in capacity by 60 litres to 500 litres.
#3: You open the boot with your feet
Speaking of the boot, you can now open and close that sucker with your feet. The tailgate is hooked up to a sensor under the bonnet that detects when you wave your shoe at it, so you can load and unload it hands free.
#4: You control it with a mouse
BMW's overhauled the Professional version of the sat-nav, which features an optimised menu display. A new mouse trackpad-style, touch-sensitive surface lets you type characters using your finger – a bit like the systems used in Audis. It seems a little gimmicky, but it should be slightly easier to use than the standard system, which asks users to scroll through dozens of letters one at a time.
#5: It has tablets & rave lights in the back
The latest 5 Series has an updated rear-seat entertainment system with iPad-style screens, a Harman Kardon Surround Sound system and an ambient lighting system that lets you change the tone of the interior lighting between orange and white. Techno, techno techno indeed.
#6: The radio has 14 million songs
The stereo system in the last BMW 5 series came with optional Internet radio, but this new model goes a step further. It includes an optional subscription to RaRa, a streaming audio service that gives you access to 14 million tracks on demand. It'll cost you (a fair bit, actually) but the built-in SIM card lets you access music across a number of European countries without incurring roaming charges.
#7: It'll drive you round the bend
When you buy a car costing in excess of £50,000, you'll want it to drive itself, which the new 5 Series does admirably. The latest model comes with an optional Traffic Jam Assistant feature that lets you kick back and put your feet up when driving in tedious motorway conditions. It'll maintain a gap to the car in front and even goes around bends.
#8: It parks itself
The 5 Series is a relatively large beast, so you'll be pleased to hear it uses special radar systems to measure potential parking spaces and can even parallel park itself automatically.
#9: It has night vision
In those rare instances when you're manually driving the 5 Series, you'll want to see what's going on in front of you – especially when night falls. The car features BMW Night Vision, which uses infra red cameras to scan the road ahead for cars, humans and animals, showing them on an in-car display.
#10: Better engines
Every engine in the BMW 5 Series range has been updated, so they're faster, more economical and kinder to the environment. A new entry-level BMW 518d has been added to the range, but it's no runt. The unit produces 143hp, returns 62.8mpg and spits 119 grams of CO2 per kilometre. A new V8 engine at the opposite end of the performance scale produces 450hp.