Did the best just get better? The Recombu team jumped behind the wheel of the new, facelifted 2013 BMW 5 Series to find out.
The BMW 5 Series needs little introduction; since the first generation arrived in 1972 the firm has sold over 6 million examples worldwide. Drive anywhere in the UK and chances are you’ll have seen one out of your windscreen. Still, even the best can’t stand still, so halfway through its lifecycle the current 5 Series has undergone a revamp. There’s some subtly updated styling (to bring it into line with the new 3 Series) inside and out, technology has been updated and the chassis refined. Sounds like the best just got better; so we got behind the wheel of a 530d saloon to find out if it’s been worth the wait.
The new 5 Series can also be fitted with a 10.25-inch multifunction TFT instrument display which replaces the conventional instrument cluster.At first glance you’ll struggle to notice any differences between this BMW 5 Series and one that was in your local dealership window at the start of the year, but there are subtle differences. The front has had its familiar double kidney grilles accentuated, while the rear looks wider thanks to re-designed tail lamps and extra detailing in the rear bumper. Inside it’s much the same as before though the I-Drive controller now has the option of a touch sensitive surface that allows letters and numbers to be traced directly into the system from your fingers – a bit like a mouse touchpad. The new 5 Series can also be fitted with a 10.25-inch multifunction TFT instrument display which replaces the conventional instrument cluster. It’s a better solution as it displays a richer array of context-sensitive information depending on which driving mode is selected.
There’s no more space inside, apart from cup holders now configured to take a Big Gulp rather than a medio macchiato. But then it’s always offered plenty of space for its occupants and the cabin is of a high quality too. Order the optional Comfort seats which have multiple adjustments and it’s hard to believe that anyone would struggle to find their perfect driving position. Boot space in the saloon remains at the same 520 litres, as does the Touring which offers 560 litres – which can be expanded to 1,670 litres with the seats folded.
Performance & handling
Such is the refinement of the 530d that only the speedometer can tell the true story of its acceleration.There’s a new 518d which promises impressive economy and incredibly low emissions, but the car we slipped behind the wheel of was a 530d. With a more powerful three-litre straight six diesel engine this executive saloon can sprint from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds – and thanks to the age-old gentleman’s agreement is limited to 155mph. The power (254bhp) and torque (560Nm) delivery is incredibly strong, but it’s all transmitted to the road with the utmost serenity. Such is the refinement of the 530d that only the speedometer can tell the true story of its acceleration.
The ultimate driving machine tagline feels deserved when cornering with little in the way of body roll and plenty of grip, and the electric steering is one of the better examples. Everything about the car feels matched, from control weights to the driving position, and despite its luxury car tag the 530d is easy and rewarding to drive quickly.
Economy & environment
The ECO Pro mode gives you tips on how to drive more economically.Only the 535d ranks above the 530d for power in the diesel 5 Series stakes, and if you’re chasing CO2 output or ultimate MPG then the 525d, 520d or new 518d are far more worthy of your attention. That’s not to say the 530d is thirsty and dirty though, it achieves average combined economy of 55.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 134g/km. That’s better than some diesel hatchbacks, and it’s all down to the firm’s clever use of Efficient Dynamics technology which includes start/stop, brake energy regeneration, active air vents, electric power steering and low rolling resistance rubber. There’s also ECO Pro mode which gives you tips on how to drive more economically.
Equipment & value
Drivers can call a central centre which can provide them with opening times of local businesses, details of the nearest points of interest and even book hotels or restaurant tables for them.It’s an executive car, so as you’d expect standard equipment levels are already high. But that’s not to say you can’t bolster the standard kit levels with extras from the options list. And BMW is keen to point out it’s latest 5 Series has the most advanced infotainment systems available, all under its Connected Drive banner. All models come with Bluetooth hands free, while a new function allows drivers to dictate then send text messages and you can access the Internet on the road.
By far the most interesting though, is BMW Concierge service. Drivers can call a central centre which can provide them with opening times of local businesses, details of the nearest points of interest and even book hotels or restaurant tables for them. And if BMW Business navigation is specified then real time traffic information is included.
Last tested in 2010 it’s safe to say the latest iteration of the 5 Series will equal if not surpass that car’s result – a full five stars. There’s a new High Beam Assistant which bends the lights around the cars in front so as not to dazzle them, Night Vision assist is available and the car will brake itself to a stop if it detects a low speed collision is imminent.
As exercises go you could say this was something of a pointless one. Not futile, but maybe a little pointless; the current 5 Series is still very much at the top of its game, despite its age. Even without the facelift it mixed distinctive design, a quality cabin, excellent driving dynamics, impressive technology and class-leading efficiency. And that was enough to assure the 5 Series its place consistently near the top of the sales charts. The new car does make strides, or should we say babysteps, in the right direction though, with improvements in every area. There’s no doubt the new 530d saloon is one of, if not the, finest executive saloons currently available and we can’t see that changing anytime soon.
Model tested: BMW 530d saloon
Engine: 3.0-litre straight six diesel
Acceleration: 0-62 in 5.8 seconds
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Emissions: 134g/km CO2
Price: £40,615 (530d SE automatic)