It’s different this new 5-series and that’s good and bad. Its good because the car now has a broader appeal and its bad because its lost the one thing we loved about BMW’s – the complete focus on the driver. You would be forgiven for thinking that BMW is playing it safe.
Underneath the skin the 5-series is more complex than ever. This car comes with a new eight-speed automatic gearbox and the engine is heavily upgraded. This new-generation 5-series is built on the same basic platform that sits beneath the 7-series, 5-series GT and forthcoming 6-series. As a result, the ‘5’ has grown; at 2968mm it is the now the longest in class.
But, for die-hard BMW fans the most controversial change over its predecessor is the arrival of electrically assisted power steering. BMW believes EPAS technology has now reached a point where it offers sufficient feedback that the efficiency savings cannot be overlooked. And this car has BMW’s Efficient Dynamics programme features regenerative braking.
How is it to drive? The 3.0-litre diesel’s power of 204bhp and 45.8kgm of torque is impressive. The result is a 0-100kph time of 7.7sec, which is quick. Once away from the line, the turbo-diesel pulls strongly through each gear. Left to its own devices with a strong throttle input, the eight-speed auto will allow the engine to rev out to 4700rpm before slipping through another shift that drops the engine right back into the meat of its ample powerband.
Refinement is up from the old car too. BMW’s straight-six cylinder engine spins freely and quietly. The hushed cabin tones are not just down to fine soundproofing, they’re engineered at source.
An engine with such a broad spread of power doesn’t necessarily need an eight-speed automatic like the 525d’s, but when it shifts as slickly and intelligently as this one, it might as well have it. The advantage comes not so much from the fact that having so many ratios leaves the BMW in the right gear to provide performance, it’s that the higher gears mean the engine can be left spinning ever so gently to improve economy – as our 10.0kpl in the city figure will will testify.
Cabin quality as always is great, and now resembles the 7-series cabin, but we wished BMW had been a bit more adventurous with the design.