All the Right Turns

BMW's upgraded 5 Series delivers a truly sybaritic sports sedan.

The 2017 BMW 5 Series

bmw 530i bmw 5 series cover

 

BMW’s upgraded 5 Series delivers a truly sybaritic sports sedan.

By Isaac Bouchard


2017 BMW 530i

EPA ratings: 24/34mpg; 27mpg combined

0-60mph: 5.7 sec (estimated)

Price as tested: $72,135

EARLY INDUSTRY BUZZ was that BMW intended the new, seventh- generation 5 Series to be a return to the true sports sedan ethos of the turn-of-the-century E39 series. But it wasn’t the better handling or faster acceleration—both of which the new, G30-series 5 certainly has over its predecessors—that convinced me.

bmw 5 series bmw 530i stickI actually began to believe when I flicked the turn-signal stalk to take a corner and it didn’t immediately re-center itself, only returning to its resting position once I’d straightened the lovely sports steering wheel.

This certainly wouldn’t have been the case with most BMWs built during the last decade, when the fabled German company redesigned this perfected little device in a manner that made it harder, rather than easier, to use.

BMW has always been willing to push the envelope technologically—iDrive was the first true infotainment interface, and went from being horrid to the industry standard—but this return to blinker grace demonstrated a newfound sense of focus from the company. As does the 530i as a whole, with a more athletic demeanor than the outgoing car; the chassis is more interactive, with absurdly high limits, quicker reactions and more feedback through the seat of the pants. The steering, while still somewhat numb, is linear and very accurate.

Part of how a new 5 series tears up a road comes down to three specific options: four-wheel steering, adjustable antiroll bars and dampers.

The four-wheel steering shrinks the turning circle, adds alacrity to low-speed responsiveness and aids high-speed stability. That feature, however, cannot be combined with the antiroll bars, which keep the car incredibly flat even in high-g maneuvers, but distance the driver even further from what’s happening down at the tires’ contact patches. The dampers now work independently on each shock absorber, making sure the ride stays serene when traffic or road conditions discourage one from pressing on.

Speaking of pressing on, both the test 530i and a briefly sampled six cylinder-powered 540i have quite the appetite for it; independent tests show the six to be almost as fast as the fabled E39 M5, with 0-60mph being dispatched in the mid 4-second range. The 530i’s B46-engine makes 248hp and 258lb-ft and will be more than enough for most needs, with what feels like sub-6 second poke. It does sound like a diesel at idle and never sings like the 540i’s six, but it lightens the nose, improving turn-in response.

The 530i’s aesthetics and interior illustrate BMW’s desire to satisfy our inner sybarite but also its

lack of conviction to move forward stylistically after the poorly received Bangle-butt era.bmw 5 series bmw 530i console

From the outside, this latest 5 series could almost be a clone of its predecessor, though closer inspection reveals myriad new character lines and thoughtful detailing, and its proportions are nigh on perfect. However, its beauty is on the inside, with gorgeous surfacing, an improvement in material quality and a level of craft that reminds us that BMW owns Rolls-Royce.

The latest iDrive 6.0 offers more options— including touch sensitivity to its 10.3-inch screen—but had a few glitches that are now typical of major OS changes. The 530i is an incredibly tranquil place to while away the miles, with a super stiff yet lighter structure and incredible isolation from road and wind noise. It is more refined now than most anything one might consider a competitor, and many ostensibly more luxurious machines as well.

The 530i’s semi-autonomous driving aids available generally work well, Traffic Jam Assistant in particular being a real boon at times, though the lane-assist system occasionally wanders back and forth like a tipsy driver undergoing a sobriety test. The BMW is in no way alone in this; it will take a wholesale repaving and bolder lane markings to move us to truly autonomous driving. In the meanwhile, this newest 5 series is one of the most pleasing places to enjoy the phenomenon of piloting a luxury sports sedan.


This issue appears in the June 2017 issue of Colorado AvidGolfer Magazine.

Automotive Editor Isaac Bouchard is president of Bespoke Autos ([email protected]; 303-475-1462). Read more by him at coloradoavidgolfer.com and bespokeautos.com.


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