MUNICH, Germany – BMW lifts the veil on its seventh-generation 5-Series sedan, revealing the evolving exterior design, contemporary interior features, broadened engine lineup and advanced autonomous-driving functions the 4-door will offer when U.S. sales launch in February following its public debut at the 2017 North American International Auto Show.
Headlined by a 4-wheel-drive M550i xDrive M Performance model, the latest incarnation of the 5-Series follows an evolutionary path with an appearance less distinctly removed from its predecessor as 5-Series models have been in the recent past.
The new car adopts a similar design to the latest 7-Series, appearing subtly sharper than the old 5-Series with tauter surfacing and more finely honed crease lines along the flanks, including an additional feature line that runs along the top of the front and rear doors to create a more dynamic shoulder line.
Key elements such as the kidney grille and Hofmeister kick within the C-pillar also have been reinterpreted, providing them with a more contemporary form. The shape of the LED headlamps and taillamps recall the traditional graphics of past 5-Series models.
According to project director Johann Kistler, the decision to retain a familiar appearance rather than opt for an all-new lineage on the new 5-Series was deliberate, based on customer feedback and a record 2.1 million sales worldwide for the previous-generation 5-Series produced between 2009-2016.
“In the final choice of designs we had three proposals. The production car is the middle of those three,” he says. “We also had a more conservative proposal and one that pushed the boundaries a little more.”
The new BMW also receives a larger footprint. The wheelbase is extended 0.3 in. (7.6 mm) over that of its predecessor at 117.1 ins. (2,974 mm), while the track widths are up 0.2 in. (5.1 mm) at the front and rear to 63.1 ins. (1,603 mm) and 64.1 ins. (1,628 mm), respectively.
A comprehensive aerodynamic development program carried out at BMW’s Munich wind tunnel gives the new 5-Series, known under the internal codename G30, a class-leading drag coefficient of 0.22. This is through the adoption of active grille elements with louvers that open when more cooling air is required, but otherwise remain closed to smooth air flow.
In a change to the current model lineup, the successor to the 5-Series GT, which already is undergoing durability testing in prototype form, is set to adopt more individual styling to distance it from the sedan and Touring models. BMW sources in Munich suggest it will adopt the name 6-Series GT and indirectly replace the 6-Series GranCoupe when it goes on sale in 2018 – likely with a higher price.
More Aluminum Featured in New Architecture
Underneath its predominantly aluminum body is BMW’s new Cluster Architecture platform structure, which was introduced last year on the 7-Series and will be adopted by the upcoming seventh-generation 3-Series due out in 2018.
CLAR incorporates more aluminum, magnesium and titanium within its floorpan, bulkheads and connecting nodes than the old 5-Series platform.
To control production costs, the new 5-Series eschews the expensive carbon-fiber structural components used by the 7-Series. However, BMW says the new platform, along with other weight-saving measures such as a lighter wiring loom, reduce up to 220 lbs. (100 kg), depending on the model.
At 3,516 lbs. (1,595 kg), the midrange 540i hits the scales at 176 lbs. (80 kg) less than its direct predecessor.
The engine lineup largely mirrors that of the outgoing model with a combination of BMW’s latest-generation B48 (4-cyl.), B58 (6-cyl.) and N63 (V-8) gasoline units and B47 (4-cyl.) and B57 (6-cyl.) diesels.
Among the confirmed gasoline engines is a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cyl. delivering 248 hp in the 530i and a turbocharged 3.0L in-line 6-cyl. with 335 hp in the 340i. Both models feature the choice of standard rear-wheel drive or optional xDrive all-wheel drive.
The 530i hits 62 mph (100 km/h) from standstill in 6.0 seconds on the way to a top speed of 130 mph (209 km/h). The more powerful 540i requires 4.9 seconds for the sprint to 162 mph (261 km/h) and tops out at a limited 155 mph (250 km/h) top speed.
They will be joined shortly after the new sedan’s introduction by an updated version of BMW’s turbocharged 4.4L V-8 in the initial ʾ17 5-Series flagship model, the new all-wheel-drive 550d xDrive M Performance.
Designed to compete with the recently launched Mercedes-AMG E43 and Audi S6, it boasts 455 hp and 479 lb.-ft. (649 Nm) of torque. BMW claims this is the ʾ17 model year’s most powerful 5-Series with a 0-62 mph time of 4.0 seconds and limited 155 mph.
On the diesel side, BMW again plans to equip four models with its popular turbocharged 2.0L 4-cyl. powerplant: the 518d, 520d, 520d EfficientDynamics and 525d.
Confirmed from outset of European sales is the 520d with the same 188 hp and 295 lb.-ft. (400 Nm) of torque as the model it replaces. It provides 0-62 mph acceleration in 7.6 seconds, a 148 mph (238 km/h) top speed and combined-cycle fuel economy of 57.4 mpg (4/1 L/100 km).
Shortly after its European launch in February, the 520d will be joined by a more frugal 520d EfficientDynamics model running on the same turbocharged 2.0L 4-cyl. diesel engine tuned to return a class-leading 60.3 mpg (3.9 L/100 km).
Slotted above these traditional volume-selling diesel models from the start of sales is the 530d, which runs a more powerful version of BMW’s classic turbocharged 3.0L 6-cyl. engine than its predecessor with 261 hp. It will be complemented later on by the 535d replacing the 540d, which uses the same engine tuned to 316 hp.
A more-refined version of BMW’s 6-cyl. diesel will make an appearance in a new all-wheel-drive 550d xDrive M Performance model. Already confirmed for the upcoming 750d xDrive, the quad-turbocharged 3.0L unit delivers 395 hp and a stout 560 lb.-ft. (759 Nm) of torque, although BMW is withholding performance details until closer to launch during second-half 2017.
BMW is yet to confirm the sale of diesel versions of its new 5-Series in the U.S.
Plug-in Hybrid Joins Lineup in 2017
However, bound for the U.S. as part of the new 5-Series lineup later in 2017 is a successor to the 535i ActiveHybrid boasting plug in-capability and a claimed electric range of up to 28 miles (45 km) at speeds limited to 87 mph (140 km/h).
Badged the 530e iPerformance, BMW’s latest hybrid uses a detuned version of the Driveline found in the X5 xDrive40e, with a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cyl. gasoline engine and an electric motor delivering a combined output of 248 hp and 310 lb.-ft. (420 Nm) of torque. It boasts 0-62 mph capability in 6.2 seconds together with claimed 117.6 mpg (2.0 L/100 km) fuel consumption on the controversial European test cycle.
At the top of the range is the new M5. Expected to make its debut at the 2017 Frankfurt auto show, it will challenge the likes of the Audi RS6, Jaguar XF R and Mercedes-Benz E63 with a lightly revised version of the outgoing model’s twin-turbo 4.4L V-8 gas engine developing a similar 603 hp as the recently introduced M5 Competition Edition model, which acts as a swan-song model for the sixth-generation 5-Series.
In keeping with tradition, the M5 will continue to be offered exclusively in sedan guise. But BMW’s longtime partner Alpina is developing an alternative B5 Touring model featuring its own take on the twin-turbo 4.4L V-8 gas engine with over 600 hp, according to sources with familiar with the German automaker’s future model plans.
Lower-end 5-Series models will continue to come with a standard 6-speed manual transmission, with higher-end variants to receive an updated version of its predecessor’s 8-speed automatic. The new M5 will remain alone within the lineup in offering a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Selected models, including the popular 520d, also will receive optional xDrive all-wheel drive.
Besides providing valuable weight savings the CLAR platform also gives the new 5-Series a significant increase in torsional rigidity compared with the outgoing sixth-generation model on sale in Germany since 2009.
BMW uses the increased structural stiffness to further hone the suspension of its crucial midrange model, giving it a revised double-wishbone design with a greater number of aluminum components for lower unsprung weight at the front end.
At the rear, BMW has redesigned its traditional 5-link suspension, providing the 5-Series with sturdier mounting points together with lighter aluminum components in a move it says brings more controlled wheel movement, improved toe-in properties and greater isolation from bumps in an development claimed to elevate overall ride comfort to previously unattained levels.
BMW confirms four versions of the new suspension will be available to buyers of the new 5-Series: a standard set-up with fixed-rate dampers, a firmer sports tune with reduced ride height, a variable damper system and a combination of variable dampers with electronically operated active anti-roll bars to eliminate body roll.
But, despite being featured prominently in the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW has decided not to make air suspension available on the new 5-Series, suggesting the revised steel spring set-up provides sharper dynamics in combination with vastly improved ride quality than its predecessor.
Additionally, buyers will be able to combine the xDrive all-wheel-drive system with BMW’s active all-wheel steering system, a combination already seen on the latest 7-Series. Conceived to enhance the 5-Series’ reputation for handling excellence, it provides countersteer to the rear wheels at lower speeds around town and parallel steering at higher speeds on the open road.
More Autonomous Functions, Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication
BMW equips the new 5-Series with various autonomous driving functions to match those by offered on Mercedes-Benz’s latest E-Class. Among them is a hands-off function that allows the new sedan to follow the car in front in traffic, stay within its lane on the highway at speeds up to 130 mph and autonomously change lanes at speeds of 44-112 mph (71-180 km/h).
The ʾ17 5-Series features a so-called car-to-car communication system, providing nearby vehicles with information about driving conditions using wireless local area network technology. For example, if heavy fog makes it necessary to switch the fog lights on, the new BMW is able to warn occupants of other cars.
Inside, the new 5-series offers more space than its predecessor thanks to its longer wheelbase and increased track measurements. An exclusive preview of the new BMW provided to WardsAuto reveals the larger footprint has added rear-seat legroom and shoulder room compared with the previous 5-Series.
Trunk capacity is increased to 18.7 cu.-ft. (443 L) , making it a more suitable family car than its predecessor.
Up front, the dashboard is similar in design and quality to that of the sixth-generation 7-Series with digital instrument graphics and high-grade materials, helping provide the new 5-series with an upmarket look and feel from the driver’s seat. The center console is distinctively more angled toward the driver than in BMW’s flagship sedan to emphasize it has been engineered to be more driver-focused.
A free-standing 8.7-in. (22-cm) central monitor replaces the previous non-touch central infotainment screen.
Placed more easily within reach than that of the old 5-Series, it mimics the system already offered on the 7-Series by providing a combination of BMW’s iDrive rotary and gesture control. It goes one better than the top-of-the-line BMW model by adding a voice-control system that recognizes conversational speech rather than relying on specific word commands as in the past. The 7-Series is to receive this function in 2017. Optional is a larger 10.2-in. (26-cm) monitor as part of a so-called Professional package.
The latest 6.0 version of BMW’s iDrive system provides customizable on-screen menus, allowing the driver to create a personalized home page displaying the most commonly used functions.
The new central monitor can be combined with the latest generation of BMW’s optional head-up display unit as seen on the 7-Series. Boasting a 75% larger projection area than the old 5-Series’s unit, it displays real-time traffic information, navigation instructions, driver-assistance-system warnings, phone lists and audio-track selection among other information.
The long list of driver-assistance systems is a new speed-limit-assist function, which allows speed limits to be incorporated into the standard dynamic cruise control, allowing the driver to set a degree of leeway in terms of how close to the maximum speed limit they wish to drive.
As with the latest 7-Series, the new 5-Series offers a so-called display key that can be coupled to a remote-parking function. It allows fully autonomous parking from outside the car via a digital control on the key.
The G30 5-Series will be produced at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Germany (sedan, Touring), with additional sedan volume from contract assembler Magna’s production facilities in Graz, Austria. A long-wheelbase Li version to be aired at next year’s Shanghai auto show will be assembled in Shenyang, China.
Pricing for the new 5-Series is yet to be confirmed, but it is expected to cost marginally more than its predecessor on a model-for-model basis, although BMW confirms it will come with more standard equipment than its predecessor.