2017 BMW 5 Series: Epitome of Business Sedan
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The most popular BMW sedan is back with its 7th generation, the 5-Series. Specifically, we’ve got the 540i M-Sport, but what makes it so different from its predecessor? Well it’s essentially a mini 7-series. That being said, we got behind the wheel to show you why.
This particular 540i comes standard with M-sport goodies. These include: 20-inch wheels, large blue brake calipers, black ‘air breathers’ near the front wheel arches, black rear bumper and black highlights on the front bumper. The LED headlights flow into the kidney grille and taillights are LED too. All of these add-ons give the 540i an aggressive stance. Overall, there’s nothing wrong with its looks, but there’s nothing special either. It seems like it was designed in a lab where no one was allowed to smile or talk. A dash of risk to do something unorthodox with its exterior could have given it unique road presence.
There’s no shortage of luxury in the 540i. The leather seats have a perfect balance of firmness and comfort. Also, driver’s and passenger’s seats can be adjusted in 16 ways! The side bolsters can be set to hug you with varying intensities, which makes for a nice and snugly fit. After a long day attending meetings, you can treat yourself on the way back home with the massage seats.
Its interior is incredibly practical. There’s plenty of leg and headroom, and the back seats can comfortably accommodate three people. Storage space is in abundance as well. In the front and back, there are large cup holders, and all door bins can easily handle a 1.5-liter bottle of water. The driver’s arm rest storage is deep and roomy too. Pop the boot open and there’s plenty of space. 530 liters to be precise.
The center console and all its controls look contemporary with its gloss black and silver finish. There’s also gloss black trim above the glove box that extends all the way to the driver’s A/C vents and the thick leather steering wheel’s spokes are embellished with matte/gloss type silver accents. A notable standout is the dashboard. It isn’t an area that is frequently touched, but it’s covered in plush leather. Soft touch plastic is too passé for BMW’s standards.
As a whole, the interior is restrained and nothing seems ostentatious, yet it’s elegant at the same time. All materials used are luxurious and there isn’t a single bit of cheap plastic anywhere.
If we were to mention every bit of tech in the 540i, you’d be reading this article all day. To keep it simple, we’ll highlight the cool bits. Starting with the key fob, it’s exactly what you’d get with the 7-series, a touch screen interactive display. You can view the car’s range, switch on climate control and of course lock or unlock the doors with it. What’s missing however, is the incredible auto-parking system that allows you to park the car with the key when you’re not in it! Unfortunately, this feature is only available in a limited stock of 530i’s.
Step into the driver’s seat and you’ll be greeted by a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. It’s fully configurable and its layout changes depending upon the driving mode selected. The transition from one mode to the next looks super slick. In comfort mode, the speedo and tachometer is analogue and white, in eco-pro mode the cluster turns sky blue, and in sport mode it turns angry red. Also, exact speed and gears pop up as big white numbers right in the center of the speedo and tachometer in sport mode. However, most of your attention will be towards the heads-up display that shows speed, and speed limits on the road you are driving on.
The 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia interface on the 7-series is now standard in the 5-series. Its display is crisp, clear and is a piece of cake to operate. Navigation, media/radio, communication and other functions are neatly organized into tiles that can be moved back and forth to suit your preferences. It’s similar to dragging and dropping apps on your smart phone. The best feature bar none, is the satellite navigation’s voice control system. There are no preset phrases at all. You can talk to the car like you’re having a normal conversation and it understands your commands to the letter. Once you’ve selected a destination, the system shows directions via the heads-up display.
There’s also gesture control, through which you can adjust volume levels on the optional 16-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system by pointing at the screen and rotating your finger as if you were conducting an orchestra. It works well but is a bit of a gimmick. What isn’t though, is the sound system. It’s tremendously deafening. Just under a quarter of the volume bar prevents you from having a conversation with a front seat passenger.
All the features mentioned still doesn’t do justice to the sheer number of gizmos in the 540i. Let’s just say that tech geeks will have a field day in it. Don’t fret though, even the non-tech savvy customer can use everything without a hitch.
Beginning with the basics, there are front, side, and curtain airbags, plus front and rear parking sensors. Additionally, there’s lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, and a pedestrian alert system. In the 540i, these systems have been bumped up for more security as a part of the optional ‘driver assistant plus’ package. It comes with semi-autonomous intervention abilities; In the lane warning system, the car will initiate a maneuver to keep you in your lane should you ignore the audio and sensory stimulus and what’s new, is the side collision warning system. In a situation where a car from the adjacent lane steers into yours, the 540i will automatically move you out of the way to prevent serious impact.
Its 360-degree parking system is one of the best out there. While parking, an aerial view of the car is displayed on the screen that shows you exactly where the parking lines are. So you can proudly tell your mates that you are a parking genius.
Driving and Performance
Here are the stats: 3.0-liter twin turbo V6 connected to an 8-speed automatic gearbox producing 335hp and approximately 450nm of torque. 0-100kph is achieved 4.8 seconds. 100 kilos lighter than its predecessor thanks to its all-aluminium body, a four wheel Integral Active Steering system (IAS) and a rear wheel drivetrain. That’s one impressive combination, and it delivers.
The throttle response is instantaneous, a little pressure sends a wallop of torque to the wheels and launches the car forward. Despite having electro-mechanical steering, the driver doesn’t feel disconnected from the road. Changes on the surface can be felt, and it’s easy to place the wheels on the road. Somehow the ride quality isn’t rough at all, the balance between bumpy and smooth is just right.
Surprisingly even with great ride comfort, there seems to be no body roll while cornering. It feels so nimble and direct that it’s akin to sports car handling. All in all, the 540i provides an absolutely sublime driving experience. We get the impression that BMW wanted to satisfy the driving enthusiast and regular customer simultaneously.
It’s hard to fault the 540i. It’s fantastic to drive, and it’s got technology that’s lifted straight from the 7-series. If you do not want the sporty flair of the M-sport, you can get the 5-series in the luxury edition spec (530i only). To sum up, the 540i M-sport is a perfect harmony of luxury, sophistication and sportiness. If you’re looking for a luxury business sedan, look no further.