A little over a year ago, Eastern BMW allowed me a shot of testing the new G30 model designation 5 series prior to launch.
Here’s the review I wrote back then and some of the pictures. Actually rather scary how quickly 12 months can pass!
“So, headed along to Eastern BMW at Newbridge to take the new 5 series for a 24hr test drive. The car in question being a white 520d in SE spec, which I reckon is a pretty important model to them, given the number of outgoing models in exactly that spec (and colour) I all of a sudden started to spot on the way home.
First thing I noticed on arrival was the styling. For the last couple of decades, it has really looked like the designers designed the MSport then dulled everything down to just about good enough for the normal/ES/SE versions. Sorry if that’s your flavour, just my opinion. In the new 5 series however, that’s changed. The front bumper actually has a bit of menace and purpose with the appearance of a full width lower intake. I’m also a fan of the twin tailpipes and small strake on the front wing. As a side note, having driven a massive selection of pretty obnoxious cars on the road, it turns out the easiest way to gain attention is simply to add manufacturer camouflage!
So, jumping in, everything is pretty familiar. In terms of the dash and interior layout, it’s firmly evolution over revolution. Electric memory seats configured very quickly to my preferences, good bolster support on the seat back and under knee support. The memory steering moving out the way to allow easier ingress and egress was a nice touch for tighter parking spots as the front doors are pretty big.
Satnav and infotainment is definitely an improvement over the outgoing model, much nicer interface from my point of view. Quickly input the postcode to head home and sync’d my phone up and away we go. Running round doing some errands and dropping parcels off it gave me plenty of stuff to play with and entertain me. The DAB reception seems better on this model and making a few calls the integration was really good between phone and car, the sound insulation for making calls is excellent. At motorway speeds completely normal conversation volume is sufficient, if you’re raising your voice, it’s to make a point, not just to be heard.
Taking a late night run in to Glasgow to pick up the other half gave it a chance to stretch its legs on the way home. Coming out the 50mph limit it pulls back up to “cruising speed” nicely. The buttock dyno suggests somewhere just shy of 200hp and mated the excellent ZF 8 speed auto box, acceleration is genuinely seamless.
On Friday, my fiancé and I both had a day off, so decided to take it on a bit of a tour heading up through the Trossachs to Glencoe. With a good mix of A and B roads, dual carriageways and motorway on the planned route, something to test the handling a bit better than the selection of roundabouts I’d sampled with it thus far.
Now, MSport vs SE isn’t a marketing gimmick, there’s changes to the spring and damper ratios, tyre size and even geometry. On the softer sprung SE, you can feel the extra body roll if trying to push on through roundabouts or tighter twists in the road, even without particularly bulbous sidewalls. That being said, over the range of roads I drove, it allowed me to make progress with confidence inspiring neutral handling, the softer suspension helping damp out the vibrations from the rough and scarred surfaces that pass for roads these days.
Taking things in context, it’s remarkably agile for the size of car. You can’t completely fight physics, longer wheelbase = greater polar moment = not as willing to change direction, there’s really nothing can be done about that. It’s a big old beast but the 100kg weight loss over the previous model is a great achievement and helps make it more nimble. It doesn’t understeer, doesn’t oversteer, it allows you to clip on at good pace, stress free. The steering weight is great for cruising, my personal preference would be for slightly more weight, but it had plenty of feedback and you could position the car accurately, even at national limit speeds on pretty twisty roads.
Since it was the 2.0 diesel I was testing, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk fuel economy. On the tour of the Trossachs, up to Glencoe and back to West Lothian via Glasgow, it returned 52.9mpg. Over the 322 miles I did in the car, I never saw under 50mpg for a journey and on the motorway run back to Eastern to drop the car back off it returned 62mpg with cruise control set around 70. Seriously impressive when you consider this car was fresh out the wrapper with only 12 miles on the clock when I collected it and engines don’t really loosen up for a few thousand miles.
Of course I realise, nobody reads/believes reviews that only talk about the good stuff, so what didn’t I like? Well, nothing bugged the life out of me but there were some niggles.
At a towering 5ft 9, and with a preference to sit nice and low in the car, the sunvisor in low sun conditions could do with being about half an inch to an inch longer.
The volume on the stereo when playing music from your phone via Bluetooth needs quite a high volume on your phone to get a decent base volume on the stereo. That didn’t make much sense given its not an aux input via cable.
I would definitely want to spec split fold rear seats. I didn’t need them during my time with the car but I know how useful they are on my 3 series.
With the car in EcoPro model, the gearbox is programmed to allow the car to coast to maximise fuel economy. When using cruise control in EcoPro mode, this has the effect that when going downhill, on a not quite steep enough gradient to maintain the speed you were going at, it will lose up to around 5mph and then when the road flattens out it hoofs it to gain the speed back. Alternatively, if going downhill on a steep gradient it will pick up speed over the cruise value, so if you’d set cruise at 55 in a average speed camera’d 50 limit, it could get interesting.
Comfort and Sport modes don’t have the same freewheeling gearbox feature, so they’re the better bet for absolute set speed cruising. Making progress over country roads with the ability to use engine braking via the paddles, and the more linear throttle mapping, would make those modes my choice for anything non-motorway/dual carriageway.
Overall, it did exactly what a 5 series, and indeed a BMW, is meant to. It can hustle along over twisty roads with great balance and feedback, it can kick off its heels and run and it can munch several hundred miles in one sitting with the passengers in total comfort and feeling fresh at the other end.”