The new BMW 5 Series is one seriously clever car. We spent hours driving it around and faffing with its numerous tech features – here is what we think is worth knowing, including the UK price and when you can buy it.
As a car that has seen more than six million sales worldwide since arriving in 1972, the seventh-generation BMW 5 Series has a lot to live up to.
To make that happen BMW has let a lot of the technological goodness in the 7 Series trickle down to the 5 Series, which we got to drive around the bend-happy mountain roads of southern Spain, and made a number of revisions.
So what has been changed and just how clever is the new BMW 5 Series? We decided to find out ahead of our review.
1) So what’s new with the BMW 5 Series?
The up to 100kg lighter new BMW 5 Series is 36mm longer, 6mm wider and 2mm taller while the wheelbase is 7mm longer, all of which make it more spacious inside, which is good if you are height-endowed.
As for aesthetics, LED headlights with their trademark circular inserts are now standard and the rear lights have also been adjusted to make the car appear wider. It also gets an Active Kidney Grille that helps the engine warm at start-up and cool when moving – as seen on the 7 Series.
2) 3D Remote View helps you find your car
Four cameras around the BMW 5 Series allows it to generate a picture of its surroundings, which can be viewed through the standard iDrive 6 infotainment system so you can check for any obstacles you may have missed.
You can also make use of the 3D View remotely via the BMW Connected app, allowing you to keep tabs of your car when away and, if necessary, take screenshots of the surroundings and send them on to help your other half find where you parked.
3) It borrows Gesture Control from the 7 Series
Gesture control is a feature inherited from the range-topping BMW 7 Series. To increase the volume control, you can simply do a circular motion with your finger and the action can be very minor once you learn where the sensor operation area is.
Other instances of gesture control are contextual such as answering a phone and the iDrive infotainment system displays when you can use them. You can also set a custom gesture for a function of your choosing, which can include skipping to the next song.
Another 7 Series feature is the optional smart key, which lets you open the boot, check the range and show off the fact you own a BMW 5 Series assuming that sort of thing floats your boat.
4) It is the first car to support Microsoft Office Exchange
The 2017 BMW 5 Series is capable of playing nice with a Microsoft Office Exchange account, making it the first car on the market to do so. Using an Office 365 account, the car can import emails and your calendar appointments so you know exactly where you need to be and when. It can even import contacts and let you dial them directly from a phone connected to the car.
5) A hybrid version is coming
BMW let us sit in the new 530e iPerformance, but sadly not drive it. Fortunately, we know a reasonable amount about the 252hp hybrid including the fact it outputs a mere 49g/km of CO2 so it will be cheap to tax. As for fuel economy, expect a claimed 134.5mpg and an electric-only range of 28 miles capable of 87mph.
6) The BMW 540i is just one highlight
The BMW 540i xDrive is the one to go for if you want performance, thanks to a 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds – the same as an older M3. Power and torque comes in at 340hp and 450Nm, respectively.
Below that is the turbocharged 530i four-cylinder in-line four, which replaces the 528i. 0-62mph takes 6.2 seconds and power is 252hp – a 7hp increase on its predecessor.
Diesel-wise, the bottom-spec 520d has 190hp and 400Nm of torque. Above that is the 530d, which has 265hp, 620Nm of torque and a 0-62mph time of 5.4 seconds. All engines are mated to an eight-speed Steptronic automatic as standard.
7) It can drive itself
Even the best driver’s can be caught out, so it is good to know the 2017 5 Series can pre-arm the brakes and apply them if you are too slow to react. Going one step further, it can actually steer around an obstacle it calculates there is too little time to stop.
There is even a feature that steers the 5 Series for you, providing there are white lines for the computer to follow, and it can maintain a safe distance between you and the car in front at very low and very high speeds. The basics of autonomous driving, essentially.
It helps that all BMW 5 Series vehicles will be able to talk to each other using an in-built SIM, providing better traffic data to help you avoid congestion and a weather report for where you are going. Locations of potential dangers can also be shared throughout the fleet.
8) You may be surprised at the fuel economy
BMW claims the 520d can achieve up to 68.8mpg while outputting just 108g/km of CO2, while the 530d is only slightly less efficient, at 60.1mpg and 124g/km of CO2. We saw upwards of 40mpg from both engines without trying too hard.
The petrol engines lag behind but the blisteringly quick 540i xDrive can still manage a claimed 39.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 164g/km, even if you opt for the bigger alloy wheel sizes.
9) You can talk to your car using Alexa
For those with a smart home, it will be possible to get Amazon’s Alexa to communicate with the 5 Series. This means you could, in theory, use your car to turn on the kettle or coffee machine ready for your arrival. Or ask Alexa at what time you should leave to arrive at an appointment on time, taking into account traffic conditions along the way.
In case you want a more typical infotainment system offering, the professional navigation system is standard on all models. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can be specced, with the former available to use wirelessly.
Speaking of iDrive 6, the processor and RAM output has been boosted to make it a much faster, more responsive system and it really shows. There is little delay between a swipe and the menu adjusting.
10) When can I buy the new BMW 5 Series?
The 2017 BMW 5 Series is available to pre-order right now from showrooms and BMW’s online shop, with prices starting from £36,025 for the 520d, rising to £43,835 for the 530d xDrive. The entry-level 530i petrol starts from £40,120 and the 540i xDrive comes in at £46,645.
The BMW 530e iPerformance is set to launch in March 2017, priced from £43,985, making it second only to the 540i xDrive in price. So expect a wait to recoup the higher cost.