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Car reviews - BMW - 5 Series - sedan range

Launch Story

13 May 2010

A BIGGER, better, more expensive and less confronting BMW 5 Series will go on sale in Australia on June 3.

The new F10 5 Series range will launch with three petrol engines - a naturally aspirated six-cylinder for the 528i, a turbo six for the 535i and BMW's twin-turbo V8 for the flagship 550i, while the 520d diesel will arrive three months later.

The new 5 Series is a clean-sheet creation with a lightweight body built off the same base as BMW's new 7 Series limousine. It has new suspension architecture and powertrains, and a vast range of hi-tech options.

The capability of the car has given BMW the confidence to increase some 5 Series prices, with a hike of $6900 for the entry-level 520d and an $8100 increase for the top-end 550i to more closely align them with their Mercedes-Benz E-class counterparts.

The range starts at $83,300 for the 520d, moves up to $99,900 for the 528i, then $128,900 for the 535i and hits $178,900 for the 550i.

BMW insists the price rises are offset by increased levels of standard equipment. Active steering, which changes the gearing of the steering rack for easy low-speed manoeuvring and had been standard on all models except the 520d, is now part of a $3600 option pack that also includes rear-wheel steering.

Those who can afford the new 5 Series will benefit from BMW’s renewed emphasis on improved fit and finish, something lacking when the E60 5 Series was launched, as well as chassis development.

The new, less polarising design is likely to enamour many potential customers who were not won-over by the E60’s Chris Bangle boldness.

It is still features BMW design necessities, including the kidney grille, Hofmeister C-pillar kick and the inverted L-shaped tail lights, but has a more traditional athletic elegance in keeping with previous 5 Series models.

The latest Five has new all-aluminium double wishbone suspension at the front and a multi-link rear set-up that BMW calls an integrated V axle.

It comes standard with regular springs and dampers, while the turbo-petrol versions are available with the optional Dynamic Damper Control that provides an extra-soft comfort setting as well as advancing the handling with adaptive front and rear anti-roll bars.

BMW has re-introduced the concept of rear-wheel steering, as seen previously in old Mazdas, Hondas and Nissans, with a new electronic system that allows for up to three degrees of turn.

As mentioned, the rear-steer system is only available with the optional active steering system which allows for the amount of steering input to change, depending on the speed. This means a small input at low speed turns the front wheels more than it would at higher speeds.

The new 5 Series is 58mm longer than the previous model (4899mm), while width is up 14mm (1464mm) and the wheelbase is 80mm longer at 2968mm.

Despite the addition of an aluminium bonnet and doors, along with various high-tensile steel that helps to make the body 55 per cent stiffer, the overall weight is up slightly across the range. The 535i model now weighs 1700kg.

All of the engines have more power and torque than those they replace, and most use less fuel.

The 520d runs a revised 2.0-litre four-cylinder common-rail turbo-diesel that produces 135kW at 4000rpm and 380Nm of torque from 1900rpm to 2750rpm. Its 0-100km/h time is not so exciting at 8.1 seconds, but the fact that it uses just 5.2 litres per 100km on the official city/highway test is impressive.

Next up is the naturally aspirated 3.0-litre petrol in-line six that powers the 528i. This lightly revised naturally aspirated unit produces 190kW at 6600rpm and 310Nm from 2600rpm to 3000rpm. It makes the 0-100km dash in 6.7 seconds and uses an average of 8.1L/100km.

A 3.0-litre petrol inline six with direct-injection and a twin-scroll turbocharger is fitted to the 535i, generating 225kW at 5800rpm and 400Nm all the way from 1200rpm to 5000rpm.

This enables the 535i to charge from 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds and record an official 100km average fuel figure of 8.4L/100km.

Until a more potent M5 arrives, the 4.4-litre V8 of the 550i is the big daddy of the 5 Series range. It uses direct-injection and two turbos to crank out 300kW at 5500rpm and 600Nm from 1750rpm to 4500rpm, which allows for a 0-100km/h run of five seconds. The fuel consumption stands at 10.4L/100km.

All engines use an eight-speed ZF torque converter automatic transmission that is also used in the 7 Series and the Audi A8. It can be controlled by steering wheel paddles that are optional on the 520d and 528i and standard in the other cars.

BMW has moved to add the head-up display system, which projects information such as the speed and satellite-navigation directions onto the lower part of the windscreen, as standard on all 5 Series sedans.

The 520d makes do with 17-inch alloy wheels, while the 528i and 535i run 18s and the 550i sits on 19s. All are fitted with run-flat tyres.

Of course, a myriad of optional wheels are available on an extras list that also includes lane-change warning, active cruise control, heat-sensing night vision and two newcomers – Parking Assistant, which parks the car with minimal input from driver, and Surround View, which displays a bird’s-eye view of the car, using high mounted cameras, as a parking aid.

The interior has evolved slightly with a next-generation iDrive control system and a seven-inch display on the centre console, facing the driver.

Leather seats and door lining is standard - and is available in six different colours - while cabin trim is available at no extra cost in three types of woodgrain, shiny enamel or brushed aluminium.

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