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High-five: Latest BMW 5 Series benefits from all-new 7 Series underpinnings.

Now in its sixth incarnation since 1972, BMW’s evergreen 5 Series is fit for 2010

8 Feb 2010

BMW’S longest-running continuing passenger car range has undergone a complete rebirth as it prepares to take on the rampaging revitalised Mercedes-Benz E-class, upcoming next-generation Audi A6, Jaguar XF and Lexus GS for mid-sized luxury sedan supremacy.

On sale in Australia from June 3, and just shy of its 40th birthday, the venerable 5 Series enterprise enters its sixth generation as an all-new proposition, reflected in the fact that it is actually based on the latest 7 Series introduced on the world market in 2008.

The latter, dubbed F01 in BMW speak, has also sired the new F07 5 Series GT ‘hatch sedan’ being rolled out in Australia right now.

Squaring off from a tenner under $100,000, four model variants of the F10 5 Series sedan will materialise inside the next nine months, including the return of the famous 528i badge ($99,990) right from the onset, last seen a decade ago in the much-loved E39 range.

Furthermore, BMW’s turbocharged six-cylinder petrol powerplant finally finds its way into the 5 Series in the form of the 535i ($128,900), while the 550i ($178,900) will be the least expensive V8 in the family for the time being.

Is it a coincidence that the latter cost exactly the same as their Mercedes W212 E-class sedan equivalents (E350 and E500) launched in the middle of 2009?All reminiscent of recent Mercedes strategy, the F10 versions are claimed to offer significantly improved value for money over their respective predecessors despite the price rises, with BMW Australia-supplied figures showing only slight movements either way when equivalently powered and equipped new-versus-old 5 Series variants are compared.

For instance, the 528i actually costs eight per cent less than the outgoing 530i and the same as the 525i, while there is no change for both 550i sedans when all the additional features of the newcomer are factored in.

According to BMW, if you line up the E60 525i with the F10 528i, the fatter spec sheet helps address the $2990 price slug.

It includes a head-up display, 18-inch wheels, a through-load rear seat, bi-Xenon headlights with washers, front and rear parking sensors, ‘Ambient’ lighting, ‘Air Vent Control’ and Brake Energy Regeneration.

Mechanically, the 528i is also more advanced than the 525i, giving its owner 30kW more power, 60Nm of extra torque, eight forward gear ratios in the standard automatic, a 1.2-second cut in the 0-100km sprint time, a 1.4 litre per 100km drop in fuel consumption (due to the introduction of a Servotronic electric power steering system in place of the current hydraulic set-up), and an electro-mechanical automatic park brake with hill-hold function.

Some of the above have been fitted as part of BMW’s EfficientDynamics mantra, with the upcoming 520d also scoring low-rolling-resistance tyres.

But buyers of that car will have to wait until the spring of this year to be able to drive it, and it will definitely cost somewhat more than the $76,400 charged for the current E60 520d due to the boost in standard equipment.

BMW Australia is still to reveal 520d prices, but if the $80,900 Mercedes E220 CDI sedan is any indication… There will not be any action on the six-cylinder diesel front until next year, yet GoAuto is reasonably certain that the 525d, 530d and even the twin-turbo 535d might be in the running – although perhaps not all at once.

All use engines of 3.0-litre capacity, while twin-turbo four-pot diesel similar to the 123d could also emerge.

Meanwhile, the still-to-be-unveiled F11 wagons will also follow during 2011, along with a host of other spin-offs including another M5 courtesy of the M Sport division, as well F12 coupe/F13 convertible variants and, it is understood, a Mercedes CLS-style four-door hard-top range. The latter will reportedly wear 6 Series nomenclature.

14 center imageFrom June, in one stroke then, the 528i opener will effectively usurp three existing E60 5 Series six-cylinder petrol sedans – the $86,530 523i, $96,910 525i and $116,824 530i – although BMW would argue that the twin-turbo 535i, which is about $12,000 more expensive, is the latter’s actual successor. As with the diesels, both six-cylinder petrol 5 Series versions are of a 3.0-litre size – but they are not of the same engine family.

We should expect smaller output six-cylinder petrol engines to also eventually arrive (523i perhaps?), while four-cylinder turbo petrol units are also probably inevitable in the circa seven-year lifespan of the F10 5 Series. We shall see.

As with all the Australian-bound newcomers, the 528i opener features an EU5-emissions compliant powerplant and segment-first eight-speed ZF automatic transmission beneath its new (range-wide pedestrian-friendlier) bonnet.

The engine is a 3.0-litre lean-burn inline six-cylinder petrol unit developing 190kW at 6600rpm and 310Nm between 2600 and 5000rpm. It reaches 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds, a 250km/h top speed, uses 8L/100km and emits 187g/km of CO2.

This contrasts to the 535i’s 3.0-litre Valvetronic turbo petrol inline six’s 225kW at 5800rpm, 400Nm between 1200-5000rpm, 6.1-second 0-100km/h sprint time, 250km/h limited V-max, 8.4L/100km and 195g/km of CO2.

The V8 is the 4.4-litre twin-turbo unit known from other recent BMW offerings, delivering 300kW from 5500-6400rpm, 600Nm from 1750-4500rpm, 5.0 seconds in the 100km/h dash, 250km/h (restricted) top speed, 10.4L/100km economy and 243g/km if CO2.

The diesel due by the last quarter of 2010 is a new 2.0-litre boasting 135kW at 4000rpm, 380Nm from 1900-2750rpm, 8.1 seconds in the 0-100km/h race, 225km/h flat-out, 5.2L/100km and 137g/km.

Note that all figures are for the eight-speed automatic variants.

Of course, as the F10 is derived from the 7 Series base, it means all change for this generation as far as the underpinnings are concerned, except of course for the trademark rear-wheel drive and near 50/50 weight distribution elements.

The styling, overseen by BMW design boss Adrian van Hooydonk and very 7 Series-like with its large trademark ‘kidney’ grille and Hofmeister kink window profile that every Five has had since day one, is meant to imply “balance and dynamicism” as a result of that weight distribution.

Aiding the latter is the implementation of aluminium in the doors, bonnet, front quarter panels and suspension.

MacPherson struts up front give way to a double track arm front wishbone and Integral-V rear axle suspension design, for improved agility, stability, and reduced noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).

While the 5 Series’ 2968mm wheelbase is somewhat shorter than the F01 (and F07 5 GT’s) 3070mm item, it is about 80mm longer than before, and is now the longest in class.

Other key measurements also increase, such as the length (4899mm), width (1860mm) and height (1464mm), while kerb weight ranges from a middling 1625kg for the 520d to portly 1830kg for the 550i (equal to the E500 but some 95kg and 50kg heftier than the GS460 and XF 5.0 respectively).

That extra length gives 13mm more rear legroom compared to the current model, while the 520-litre boot is about the same as the class norm.

Very 7 Series in its look and presentation inside, the 5 Series’ cabin – BMW insists – features materials that are of a higher quality, while the dashboard design returns to being driver-orientated once again after the more symmetrical effort found in the E60 range.

Along with the aforementioned new standard features, all models will also have front, curtain and side airbags, active front headrests, a run-flat tyre defect indicator, the ‘active’ bonnet, and a host of electronic driver-assisted safety aids including stability and traction controls.

On some overseas models at least, the F10 also features trailblazing class-first technology like stop-start functionality, but that is unlikely for Australia for now as it is only featured on the manual 520d.

Active four-wheel steering will be on the options list, however, as are Lane Change Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Speed Limit Info, Head-Up Display, BMW Night Vision and a reversing camera.

The Parking Assistance – another class-first – will cost $1600, Surround View camera capability is $1300, M Sport suspension will up the ask by $900, Integral Active Steering is $3600, Active Cruise Control with ‘Stop & Go’ sets the buyer back $4700, Soft Close doors are available for $1500, and there is an $800 ‘Sports’ version of the eight-speed auto that includes paddle shifts and the Dynamic Driving Control system, which allows the driver to change the settings from Normal to Sport and Sport+.

Also optional on the 528i is Dynamic Damper Control for $2650, but BMW’s Adaptive Drive anti-roll suspension includes it as part of a $7000 package.

ConnectedDrive is also applicable on Australian 5 Series cars for the first time, and includes, BMW says, the Head-Up Display, Night Vision, Lane Departure and Lane Change warnings, High-beam assist, Parking Assistant, a collision warning and brake initiation function in conjunction with Active Cruise Control and Stop & Go, Surround View, Park Distance Control and a rearview camera.

BMW will not reveal sales projections, but over the almost seven-year lifespan of the E60 5 Series sedan, the 530i was the most popular with more than 3590 sold year-to-date. The 525i comes in second with about 2760 buyers in that time.

The diesel E60 only arrived in Australia from 2005, but after a slow start the combined 520d (released in late 2007) and 530d accounted for about half of all 5 Series sales.

All up, to the end of January 2010, 9484 E60 sedans found homes Down Under.

As with the F01 and F07, the F10 will be produced at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Germany.

2010 BMW 5 Series pricing:
520d (a) TBA
528i (a) $99,900
535i (a) $128,900
550i (a) $178,900

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