Here’s the latest in a very long line of big BMW sedans designed mainly to make executives and businessmen happy. The 5 Series is the last stop in the Bavarian brand’s sedan range before moving up one final step on the status ladder to chauffeur-driven limousine.
The latest 5 Series is the seventh all-new model to wear the name since the early 1970s. Known inside BMW by the codename G30, it’s due to reach Australia in March 2017.
While the range will expand over time, the four-model launch line-up is to be headed by the $136,900 540i. Prices will rise across the board, though BMW Australia argues that extra standard equipment in each of them more than compensates.
The turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder of the 540i is a completely fresh engine design from BMW. As usual, it drives the car’s rear wheels. The transmission is an eight-speed automatic.
Overall length is the only important dimension that increases significantly compared to the outgoing model, but BMW’s weight-conscious engineers have cut up to 100kg from the new 5 Series.
The exterior design is all new, naturally. Inside, BMW has aimed for more opulence, technology and craftsmanship than ever.
So much for the basics; now here are some things you don’t know about the BMW 540i…
BMW has come up with a smart update of the way its central touch-screen works. The interface lets drivers select which three ‘pads’ are shown on the first screen. These look like big icons, but they’re actually miniaturised real-time displays of what’s happening with, say, the sat-nav, phone and infotainment systems. Instant access to full screen views or menus is just a tap away. The standard 10.25-inch high-res screen delivers luscious clarity.
Optional in other markets, the inductive charging smartphone tray in the new 5 Series will be standard in Australia. It’s found just forward of the transmission shift lever. Even if your current smartphone lacks built-in inductive charging, BMW sells accessory cases that will fix the problem.
Head-up display is standard in all new 5 Series models. The display is 70 percent larger than in the previous model. It needs to be; the new HUD can display sat-nav prompts, driver-assist system warnings, phone lists and infotainment system info.
Redesigned bottle holders in the front doors hold more than before. They’re good for 1.0-litre containers, says BMW.
Instrument panel in new 5 Series is covered in Sensatec, an artificial leather. It looks great, with the pattern of graining looking like a dog’s nose. In places the driver comes into physical contact with the car, like seats and steering wheel, BMW uses real leather.
For the first time in a 5 Series, the premium audio option is a 16-speaker surround-sound system from Bowers & Wilkins.
The new 540i is the only model in the range to come equipped with active roll-bar technology. This tech works with the car’s variable shock absorbers to reduce lean angles through corners.
Active aerodynamics help make the new 5 Series a slippery customer. An electrically controlled venetian blind-like arrangement just behind the grille can block airflow through the car’s radiator when it’s not needed. This cuts air drag, improving fuel efficiency.
Forward-facing radar just beneath the front number plate is a key part of the 5 Series’ active cruise control and autonomous braking tech. It has a range of around 300 metres… in good weather. Any build up of snow or ice can reduce this significantly, so BMW fits a heated cover over the sensor that can melt any build up. It only operates when needed.