2017 BMW 5-series India review
- Published On: 21 March 2017
- 6 min read
Is the new 5-series as fun to drive as BMW says it is?
The Rs 50-60 lakh luxury sedan segment has had a major overhaul in the last one year. Jaguar has brought in the XF in an all-new avatar, Volvo jumped into the fray with its majestic new S90 and, most recently, Mercedes decided to pamper the Indian luxury car buyer with the stretched-out version of its latest E-class. Now, it will be BMW bringing in its sporty 5-series sedan to India in an all-new avatar. This new Bimmer is particularly important because BMW says that, unlike the outgoing 5, which had lost some of its sporty content, its replacement will be a proper driver's machine like the 5-series of the old. But is it? Time to find out.
Heart of the matter
What stand outs the most on BMWs are the engines that power these machines. Under the hood sits a new 3.0-litre straight-six motor that dishes out power in a seamless manner. Floor the throttle on an open stretch, and the powerband is so wide and the response linear, it feels like there’s a controlled explosion going on under the bonnet. The new 5 pins you back into your seat when you step on the gas.
The new B57 3.0 straight-six motor is also much more refined. The mid-range is smooth, and at low RPMs, it’s much quieter too. Still, BMW’s new straight-six isn’t the epitome of refinement. Other large-capacity diesels from the competition are quieter still. The engine, however, delivers its 265bhp of power in a near petrol-like manner – it hits 100kph in a claimed 5.7sec - that’s serious performance. Remember, however, that the 530d will be the top-spec engine in the Indian 5-series line-up. Lower in the range will be two four-cylinder options – the 190hp 520d diesel and the 252hp 530i petrol.
From behind the wheel
The area where the most improvement is the 5’s handling. Where the previous-gen 5 had positively soggy dynamics and a vague, uncommunicative steering, the new car returns to form, and how. This car displays an eagerness to attack corners hard and fast. This 5 has lost a bit of agility over the European-spec car. The loss of the rear-wheel steering means it doesn’t rotate as easily, and there’s a bit more roll too. Still, the driving experience it delivers is just spellbinding. The brakes, to begin with, offer a tremendous amount of feel as I get into a corner. What truly elevates the driving experience, however, is the balance. Yes, it rolls and eventually runs out of grip at the rear, but the new 5 is always so poised and comfortable. And what also helps is that the smooth and lightning-quick eight-speed gearbox is always ready to play. This car doesn’t feel like it’s close to 5m in length with a wheelbase of 2,975mm – it’s also around 95kg lighter than the earlier car.
BMW’s new Adaptive mode is so good, you don’t really need to fiddle with the various modes any more. The ride is soft and supple when you want it to be, and then when you start tearing around, the car senses it and stiffens up the dampers. Over some of the sharper bumps there is a bit of stiffness, and the new 5 thumps through at times even in ‘Comfort’, but BMW seem to have found a sweet balance.
While the new 5 is fabulous to drive, a lot of owners will often occupy the rear seat. There’s real leather here to begin with, some of the finest and softest around, and both the seat height and thigh support are extremely good. The backrest is a touch vertical (the earlier 5 had the more reclined backrest from the China car), but is extremely supportive. And because the new 5 has an almost 3m-long wheelbase, legroom is also more than sufficient. Quality on the inside has taken a huge step forward; most bits are built as well as those on a 7-series.
The BMW gets its own back once you go up front. The larger front seats are more supportive and comfortable, their range of adjustment is wider and finding the right driving position is so much easier. Quality levels are a notch higher too. Build quality is more solid too; there are no disagreeable squeaks, even when you prod the dash or thump it lightly with your fist. The 5 is better equipped too. The instrument panel is all digital, the central screen is of a higher quality, and resolution and functionality are so good, they almost look like your smartphone. Even the touch functions work beautifully – all you ever need to do is hit the ‘button’ once. BMW’s iDrive system is even simpler to use now; and passengers at the back get their own remote for the system too. The new 5 even gets a few delight features from the 7. Gesture control works well, once you get used to twirling your fingers in the air, the blower control is also via a touch function and then there’s the sci-fi-like remote parking too. Some of the buttons like the blower control, however, are a bit small and fiddly to use. BMW has also made a much-needed modification to the boot, especially for India. The luggage compartment now comes with room for a space saver under the floor, and that’s far better than having a spare sitting exposed and all strapped up in your boot. Space will be down on the otherwise generous 530 litres, but having a tyre to fall back on makes a huge difference.
Is it worth the money?
The new 5 is a massive leap forward in almost every area when you compare it to the earlier car. It drives like a proper BMW to begin with. Performance is muscular, it handles with the fluency of a thoroughbred sports sedan, and control and feedback are good. Quality levels are now easily the best in its class and it is lavishly kitted out, often as generously as cars from a class above, with some genuinely new bits of tech. Even the rear seat experience is good. BMW will launch the car sometime in June or July at an expected price of Rs 52-65 lakh.