The advent of every new BMW 5 Series reaffirms why this model 'family' is a benchmark in its segment—and why the phrase 'technology through evolution' describes BMW's overall development approach.
The seventh generation 5 Series, known internally as the G30, broke cover at the 2017 Detroit auto show, with the new Touring following at the Geneva show and an all-wheel drive M5 sedan expected at Frankfurt in September. All continue an aesthetic link to the six previous 5 Series generations.
The new generation car is the subject of 3 million test miles during development. It will be available with both rear- and xDrive (all-wheel drive), with rear air suspension and active rear steering fitted as standard. M Sport suspension with a 10mm (.39 in) reduction in ride height is optional.
BMW’s focus on power, torque and mass reduction applies to all 5 Series versions. The author recently sampled a new 530d on a long-distance drive in southern Spain, powered by the 3.0-L inline 6-cylinder turbodiesel that is part of a newly developed modular range that includes a plug-in hybrid 530e iPerformance. The diesel delivers 620 N·m (457 lb·ft) from 2000 rpm and was exceptionally quiet at high speed, due partly to its acoustics package which includes power unit encapsulation. It is complemented by aerodynamic efficiency, the best of which for the entire 5 Series range is an extraordinarily low 0.22 Cd, for the 2.0-L 520d.
The car has a side vent "breather" to refine air flow and reduce wheel-arch turbulence, and active louvers in the radiator grill that only open with added cooling air is required.
The 530e iPerformance combine a 180-hp (134 kW) turbocharged 2.0-L gasoline 4-cylinder engine with a 95-hp (70-kW) electric machine. The aggregated power sources can deliver a claimed 248 hp (185 kW) and 310 lb·ft (420 N·m), enough oomph to push the D-segment PHEV to 60 mph in just over six seconds, according to BMW. An 8-speed ZF automatic is the only transmission offered, with either rear- or xDrive. The 530e’s 9.2-kW·h lithium-ion battery pack can be charged in less than 7 h using 120V; a 240-V outlet reduces that time to less than 3 h.
The 530e iPerformance includes three drive modes that are accessed via the car’s eDrive button: Auto eDrive, Max eDrive, and Battery Control. In Auto eDrive, the car can achieve a top speed of approximately 56 mph (90 km/h) on electricity alone. In Max eDrive, top speed as a battery EV is 87 mph (140 km/h). Maximum range on battery only is a claimed 15 mi (24 km).
Weight reduction (a best of 100 kg/220 lb) applies to all 5 Series models. The Touring model uses an aluminum tailgate (rear window opens separately) to lighten the rear end and contribute to handling. Luggage volume depending on seat configuration, is 500-1700 L (17.6 to 60 ft3).
The 530d test car was equipped with the 8-speed ZF automatic, which BMW engineers describe as having a sufficient number of gear ratios (compared with 9- and 10-speed automatics being offered by competitors). With its double wishbone front axle and new lighter (via more aluminum) and stiffer 5-link rear suspension and electromechanical power steering, the diesel sedan demonstrated the new 5 Series’ capability on mountain roads and undulating, adverse camber corners.
The new 5 takes steps towards automated driving via new assistance systems and extended functionality, including steering and lane support from walking speed up to 210 km/h (130 mph). Active cruise control allows the driver to factor in speed restrictions detected by the speed limit information system.
The bi-turbo V8 in the upcoming M5 is expected to produce around 450 kW (603 hp). The car will use a lightened (via inclusion of carbon fiber) and stiffened version of the G30 chassis that includes xDrive.
BMW Vice President Hildegard Wortmann has described the next M5’s huge performance and handling capabilities as “outrageous,” which is BMW-speak for technology that keeps this model on competitors' benchmark lists.