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Subtle enhancements for BMW 5 Series

Better Bimmer: BMW's updated 5 Series range features a host of subtle enhancements, but external changes are minimal.

BMW's accomplished 5 Series range receives a freshen-up later this year

6 Jul 2000

BMW has provided the first glimpses of a subtly facelifted and upgraded 5 Series range.

Due here around December, the revitalised 5 Series gains new six-cylinder engines and improved safety features.

Although the external changes may appear insignificant, they provide an indication of the company's future styling direction and hint at what the next generation 7 Series - due in 2002 - will look like.

BMW's design staff, headed by American Chris Bangle, have accentuated the kidney grille arrangement with a wider chrome surround and highlighted the headlamp clusters with new round lights and indicators.

In addition, round foglamps sit behind clear glass as a feature of the restyled front spoiler.

The tail-lamp clusters now feature LED bulbs to give a more even and brighter spread of light and the rear bumper has also been reprofiled.

The interior, though, remains much the same with the current dashboard and cabin layout deemed to be up to scratch in terms of clarity, comfort and ergonomics.

Safety levels are boosted by the addition of rear head airbags to supplement the existing tally of front, side and head airbags for front-seat passengers and side bags in the back.

A trio of new six-cylinder petrol engines is available in Europe - displacing 2.2, 2.5 and 3.0-litres - but only the latter two will be offered here.

The 2.5-litre engine that will power the updated 523i generates a healthy 143kW - compared with 125kW currently - but its peak torque figure of 245Nm remains unchanged.

Further up the scale, the 528i will be replaced by the 530i, which will be powered by the new 3.0-litre engine. This unit generates 172kW and 300Nm - useful improvements on the 528i's outputs of 142kW and 280Nm.

Essential to the revisions made to the engines is an enhanced torque curve with at least 85 per cent of the maximum figure available from only 1500rpm, which is said to greatly improve mid-range flexibility.

In addition, a new electronic drive-by-wire throttle system is claimed to further improve response.

BMW has opted not to touch the V8 petrol engines as they remain relatively up to date, having been introduced only four years ago.

Larger diameter brakes have been fitted to the 530i to improve stopping distances while extra equipment - including front parking distance sensors and front seats that prevent back pain - may be included in the options list.

Meanwhile, the six-cylinder BMW 320i has returned to the marque's UK line-up but BMW Australia spokesman John Kananghinis would not comment on whether the local range would follow suit.

Such a move would appear logical as Mercedes-Benz's new C-class, due in November, gains a 2.0-litre engine in the base model in lieu of the 1.8-litre unit used at present.

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