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The new BMW 5 Series has the unusual distinction of being the most comfortable mid-sized saloon from the German luxury carmaker ever.
The benchmark of the sports sedan segment has always been associated with a taut ride but its newfound cushioning can, depending on the suspension setting, result in hitherto un-experienced body roll.
The seventh-generation 5 Series uses the same basic modular platform of the top-of-the-line 7 Series. It also has many of the bigger variant's high-end features, such as the electrically controlled slats in the kidney grille, gesture control and BMW display key, which can be used for remote control parking.
Its Connected Drive feature also provides real time traffic and concierge services, including the unique Remote 3D View where a smartphone can be used to visually check on the parked 5 Series and its surroundings.
But it is the new 5's novel ride quality which should elicit comparisons to the flagship 7 Series the most.
There are two new twin-scroll turbo inline engines to drive the rear wheels through the familiar eight-speed automatic transmission - a 2.0-litre four-cylinder 530i and a 3.0-litre six-cylinder 540i.
The latter is packaged as the BMW 540i M Sport, with an M Aerodynamics body kit, distinctive trapezoidal tailpipes and huge 20-inch alloy wheels. It also has variable dampers with a new valve design that allows the 540i to be tuned for a higher level of comfort, with a suspension system comprising newly developed front double wishbones and a new five-link rear set-up.
In the Comfort setting of the Driving Experience Control function, it is so softly sprung it almost feels like a waterbed, with the plush seats - the same as the ones in the 7 Series - enhancing the cushioning. Little wonder that it's almost like riding in a 7 Series itself.
But in Sport mode, the 540i reverts to classic BMW handling, with added refinement. The 3.0-litre has big lungs and propels the 1,595 kg sedan (down 95 kg from its predecessor) from zero to 100 kmh in just over five seconds, complete with a mutedly aggressive exhaust note.
The new electric power steering is still sharp but with increased assist for reduced effort.
Body control is improved with the stiffer and lighter body. This is despite BMW's new executive express being bigger. At 4,935 mm, it is 36 mm longer with its wheelbase extended seven mm to 2,975 mm.
In the cabin, there is a unique interface design with a touch display showing a set of smartphone-like picture based pads. These can be personalised and show real-time content for navigation, entertainment, telephone and vehicle functions.
As for driver assistance, the 540i also comes with optional automatic steering and lane control abilities that now allow extended hands-off time. The Lane Change Assistant - part of the Driving Assistant Plus package - is especially cool as the 5 Series will pull out on its own in the direction of the depressed indicator stalk, anywhere from 70-180 kmh.
This 5 Series may be bigger and plusher but it is also lightweight and agile, making this new model truly remarkable.
BMW 540i M Sport
Engine 2,998cc inline-6 turbocharged
Gearbox 8-speed automatic transmission
Max power 340 hp @ 5,500-6,500 rpm
Max torque 450 Nm @ 1,380-5,200 rpm
0-100 kmh 5.1 secs
Top speed 250 kmh
CO2 emissions 164 g/km
Average OMV S$75,500
Price S$357,800 (With COE)
Distributor Performance Motors, T: 6319-0100