BMW’s contemporary 5 Series signals the evolution of the business sedan into a more personal, connected space. Just as making the move from desktop to laptop came naturally, the transition to driverless cars will no doubt happen quietly and suddenly.
After you’ve used the new Display Key to turn on the aircon, reverse out of your parking space, and only then hopped into your car, you’ll realise that the new 5 Series is less a car and more an intelligent device that facilitates your journey.
Sadly, it seems the days of the 5 Series being a true driver’s car are over. Through the eyes of a BMW enthusiast, the E28 M5 that gave the 5 Series its legend-status as a super saloon in the 80’s is a unicorn car. But profits and progress must be made, and here we are, a semi-autonomous 5 Series.
If you’re piloting the car a little too creatively, the updated Lane Keep Assist will apply the necessary corrective steering inputs to keep you off the white lines and in your lane. BMW’s Active Cruise Control is also capable of autonomously operating between speeds of 0-210 km/h — this feature and many more like it, all herald a future in which autonomous cars will be de rigueur. The car will brake, accelerate and even steer when required. Using radar to detect things like rain and fog, it will also dodge obstacles for you.
The lines of the G30 5 Series are as tight as a German train schedule: contour lines slice through the length of the car into the famous ‘Hofmeister kink’ at the C-pillar and up a fastback rear roofline, making for a very handsome car. The famous kidney grille is bigger and cleverer than ever before, opening up hidden flaps when the engine needs cooling and closing for aerodynamic efficiency when it does not.
It certainly looks the part, and with the current range-topping 540i, hosting a clinical 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight 6 producing 250KW, it has the necessary bits to impress. How unfortunate then, that the steering has all the feel and engagement of a massage through a winter jacket. I guess this is the price you pay when your car takes charge. The new motor is paired to a seamless 8-speed transmission that puts the power down with laconic ease. The cabin is comfortable and quiet even at high speeds, with any blemishes on the roads surface being discreetly dealt with.
The 5 Series is a car for the tech-savvy business person who wants to move around in a beautifully appointed, stylish, well engineered cocoon of quiet comfort and if everything goes to plan, they won’t even have to touch the steering wheel.
BMW 540i FACT FILE
Engine: six-cylinder petrol
Transmission: 8-speed Steptronic
Output: 250kW at 5500 – 6500rpm
Maximum torque: 450Nm at 1380 – 5200rpm
Acceleration (0–100 km/h): 5.1s
Fuel consumption (combined): 6.5 l/100km
CO2 emissions (combined): 149 g/km