BMW’s on a roll this year, having launched a bevy of new cars. Its sedan lineup now consists of six models, including the updated 6 Series GT and the 3 Series Gran Limousine, both of which straddle the segment occupied by the more recently launched 5 Series facelift.
So how does the 5 Series still stay relevant? By staying true to its ethos. What makes the 5 Series is the balance struck between fun behind the wheel and comfort in the rear seats. The facelift that arrived late last month adds some fresh design elements and an updated infotainment system, but retains these essential qualities.
Of the three variants, the 520d is the only one that comes with the staid Luxury Line trim, while the 530i and 530d get the more aggressive M Sport package. It’s not that the Luxury Line trim is bad-looking; in fact, the design changes that came with the facelift such as the new ‘kidney’ grille and slimmer LED headlights make it look more purposeful. It’s just that the M Sport suits it better.
The equipment levels are identical, but the M Sport touches on the interior of the higher variants do look sportier, which in my book adds to the 5 Series’s intent. Regardless of the trim, material quality is excellent and the features list is long. New standard kit on the 5 Series includes an electronic suspension, remote control parking and active parking assist, and what BMW calls a ‘display key’. It’s a key fob with an inbuilt touchscreen that allows you to pre-cool, start the car, and get info about the car, remotely.
The easy to use infotainment system – which runs on the latest OS – is best accessed via the rotary control on the centre console, but the 12.3-inch touchscreen, gesture controls and voice commands work well enough. This update also brings Android Auto to the 5 Series for the first time. As with its predecessor, the view out the 5 Series’s driver’s seat is sporty yet comfortable. The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is sporty-looking, but direct sunlight can cause the digits to fade.
There’s just a hint of a clatter when you start up the 520d’s 2.0-litre inline-four diesel engine, which makes a decent 188 bhp and 40.79 kgm of torque. For a chassis and suspension setup this fine, this unit feels almost inadequate. The 520d is not slow by any measure (it has a claimed 0-100-kph time of 7.3 seconds) and the 8-speed automatic works the engine well to extract the best from it. It even feels peppier in sport mode, and the steering and the suspension firm up accordingly.
However, the 249-bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol in the 530i and the 261-bhp 3.0-litre diesel in the 530d are a better match for this car. Despite the size, there’s a nimbleness to it and the steering is direct. It flows through a set of corners and eggs you on to go just a bit more. With the tech nannies off, the rear also kicks out.
Ride quality isn’t as firm as you’d think; it’s rather pleasant to be honest, which enhances the rear-seat experience. Although it may not be as plush or spacious as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, there’s no real cause for complaint. The size of the sunroof is a minor quibble, but it makes sense to keep the full-size one for the 6 Series GT to help maintain some distance between the two. It does ride quite low and larger speed breakers will frequently remind you just how low it is.
In the Rs 50-75 lakh range, the 3 Series Gran Limousine and 6 Series GT place a greater emphasis on space and comfort, while the 5 Series is the more fun buy. And that’s its draw — the 5 Series’s dynamics haven’t been compromised to offer a more luxurious feel, something its siblings haven’t done as well.
BMW 5 Series 520d
Displacement: 1995cc, inline-four, turbo-diesel
Max power: 188 bhp@4000 rpm
Max torque: 40.79 kgm@1750-2500 rpm
L/W/H (mm): 4963/1868/1497
Wheelbase: 2975 mm
Ground clearance: NA
Kerb weight: NA
Fuel capacity: 66 litres
PRICE: Rs 63.9 lakh (ex-showroom, India)