It has almost become a norm to launch a vehicle in both petrol and diesel variants. At least when it comes to the Indian automobile market, one cannot think of launching a high priced car without enough fuel economy to please the customers. Not just India, most of the global developing nations face the concern of fuel. And it has gone beyond mere fuel economy, it is now a matter of accessibility too. One cannot find enough fuel around the world hence the additional avenues such as electric and hybrid car technologies are at an all time high. So when a big manufacturer like BMW enters Indian market, they take note of it too. The BMW 5 Series is one such class that is offered in both petrol and diesel variants in India. The vehicle is impressive due to the unending list of offerings that have been offered in terms of exterior specifications, interior features, a range of engine performances and most importantly different fuel options. However India has only diesel variants at the moment. So this can be seen as an expansion strategy by BMW where it is specifically targeting fuel economy vehicles.
DESIGN AND STYLE ;
To begin with the front facade, it has the signature kidney bean shaped radiator grille that is treated with a lot of chrome. There is a large slanting bonnet, which has a couple of character lines and it is embossed with a prominent insignia on the tip. This grille is flanked by a trendy headlight cluster that is incorporated with adaptive LED headlamps with auto high beam assistance. It sports an LED day time running lights. Below this grille, it has a body colored bumper that houses a wide air intake section for cooling the engine. It is further flanked by a couple of bright LED fog lamps that has chrome surround. The windscreen is quite large and equipped with a pair of rain sensing intermittent wipers. Body colored outside rear view mirrors with anti-dazzle and heating function can be seen to its sides. It has body colored door handles, while the door sills are garnished in chrome. The neatly carved wheel arches with an elegant set of 18 inch light alloy wheels give further style. These rims are covered with high performance tubeless radial tyres for superior grip on any road conditions. The car maker has patterned its rear end attractively with some notable elements. These include a radiant tail light cluster and there is an expressive boot lid that has the company’s badge neatly engraved on it. Its body colored bumper is embossed with a couple of reflectors. It has a large windscreen that has a defogger along with wash and wipe function
COMFORT AND CABIN ;
BMW has made sure the new 5’s cabin exudes luxury and is packed with new-gen gizmos. The dashboard and centre console design are clearly a reflection of the 7 Series interior.Seating on the electronically adjustable driver seat is low. Yet, frontal visibility is good. Though there isn’t adjustable lumbar support, the seats are large and accommodating. These are draped in Dakota leather and not Nappa like in the sport trim. Nonetheless, they don’t fall short in providing comfort and look elegant. Ergonomics are good too with all the controls remaining within the reach of the driver’s arm. The seats are nicely cushioned in the second row as well.
For just two occupants, the second row has good knee room and thigh support. However, even if a third person can fit in, the other two might be a little uncomfortable. Nonetheless, the generous headroom and the panoramic sunroof adds much to the sense of space. Also, the 520 litres boot space is generous enough to accommodate large bags, despite having a space-saver neatly tucked underneath.
Several features from the flagship car have trickled down to the 5 Series. These include the new gesture control for the infotainment system and remote parking function with key fob. Both of these are an eye-catching novelty, but it is unclear how many buyers will actually make use of these functions. Preset gestures can control the high-resolution 10.25 inch screen. However, it’s easier when used via the iDrive controller or the remote control.
Furthermore, this display is connected to a 600 Watt, 16-speaker Harmon Kardon system satisfying all your infotainment needs. Even if this trim misses the heads-up display, it gets a new wireless phone charging tray and the very practical 360-degree cameras and sensors. They give a nice all-round view of such a big car and add to the convenience while parking. On the safety front too, the 5 Series is loaded to the brim. The safety features include six airbags, ABS with brake assist and dynamic braking lights. Additionally, there’s park distance control, traction control, stability control and cornering brake control too. All of this makes sure you are cocooned safely in the luxury sedan.
ENGINE AND GEARBOX ;
The BMW 5 Series in the 530d guise is a powerful and fun car to drive. When I first checked out the specs, I was not too impressed and expected the 530d to be more of a smooth, decently efficient and comfortable kilometre muncher…that is, until the point that I pressed the throttle for the first time. It gives you the jollies, courtesy a 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engine that produces 258bhp and a whopping 500Nm of torque and boy did I get mine! The 530d gets massive 275/45 R18 rear tyres but still struggles to grip the instant you floor the throttle but when it does, you shoot off the mark like a racing greyhound unleashed.
The German automaker’s twin scroll turbo system allows for linear power delivery right from low revs. The engine is mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox which sends power to the rear wheels.There are four driving modes offered with the 5 Series- comfort, ECO PRO, Sport and Sport+ of which the last switches off the ESP a.k.a dynamic stability control giving you access to the car in its full mechanical madness. Oh be warned! In a BMW when you switch of the electronic aids, they stay off completely. The standard mode is the comfort setting but to make the car appealing to the eco brigade, BMW has provided the ECO PRO which is basically a combination of a start-stop system and regenerative braking. This mode also runs the car in a more efficient manner by reducing the amount of power at various levels of throttle input as well as performs upshifts at a lower RPM.
This version has been fitted with paddle shifters to add to the sporty excitement but you can also do rally style shifts using the rather phallic-looking gear lever on the centre console. BMW says the 530d M Sport will do 0-100kmph in 5.8 seconds but in more real world conditions we expect this number to be closer to seven seconds and like all BMWs sold in India it is limited to a top speed of 250kmph. It almost seems obvious that since most owners will be chauffeured, we expect that the car will be driven either in Comfort or ECO PRO mode for a majority of the kilometres in its lifetime.While the BMW has a good set of numbers to back it up in terms of performance, it is realistically the second car in the list. The Jaguar XF-S has a 3.0-litre diesel V6 engine that produces 275bhp and 600Nm of torque and is a far more powerful vehicle when it comes down to outright performance.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
BMW cars are known for handling and the 5-Series is no different. It feels eager to turn and the steering is crisp, rich with feedback. The 520d is a whole lot of fun behind the wheel, always putting a smile on your face as you steer into the next corner with enthusiasm. If anything, it only feels big, due to its large dimensions but once you are used to it, you can push the car around the twisties, rewarding yourself with a pat on the back at the end of the day for doing good entry and exit speeds around corners.
Where the 5-Series does falter is the ride quality. Although it’s quite acceptable at low speeds, the 520d does tend to get unsettled on not-so-perfect tarmac as you go faster. This affects the high speed stability of the car as well. While the 5-Series is glued to the roads at high speeds, just like any other BMW, if there is a bump or two on the road, the vehicle tends to bounce a bit over it. Insulation is fantastic though and you can barely hear the road or wind noise inside the cabin. The brakes are sharp and offer good stopping power.
BRAKING AND SAFETY ;
BMW 5 Series packs the best of features from the BMW factory. With airbags strategically placed to offer safety to the passengers despite their seat position. This removes the possibility of the passengers getting hurt by the airbags instead of being protected by them during the collision impact. With ABS, Brake Assist, Child safety locks, engine immobilizer, door ajar warning, crash sensor and power door locks, the car offers the handpicked essential features from all of the BMW Series. The car also offers seatbelts to the front and the rear seat passengers. Brake Energy Regeneration allows the vehicle to convert its kinetic energy into electric energy so as to reduce the fuel consumption at start, halt and other areas where the engine functioning is not necessary initially
The BMW 5-Series is even more appealing in its facelifted form. While cosmetically there isn’t a world of a difference, it’s really the added equipment which makes this Bavarian’s case stronger. The 5-Series looks fresh, drives well and the powerplant packs in a lot of punch, even in the smaller engined 520d. The handling is sharp and although the ride quality is far from prefect, it’s quite acceptable. There is a ton of equipment on offer and the desirability factor of the BMW 5-Series really makes it a car worth considering in this segment.