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BMW 5 Series review: Five-star efficiency
BMW's 5 Series large luxury sedan has been given a mid-life facelift, and while it doesn't look like much has changed at first glance, there have been significant updates to the car under the skin that go a long way towards improving it.
Visually, the facelifted 5 Series can be distinguished through the slightly wider kidney grilles that now connect with the headlights, which themselves are now redesigned and feature distinctive L-shaped LED elements. But aside from that you'll be hard pressed to tell the difference from the pre-facelift model.
The interior too gets some minor upgrades, mostly through the addition of new features, such as the Intelligent Personal Assistant voice-driven command system, and the car now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration with no wires attached, the latter a first for the luxury segment.
All well and good, but the big changes are what's under the skin, and the most significant improvement of all is the fact that all of the revised 5 Series models now come with a 48-volt mild hybrid system.
The "mild" part means the car can't move on electric power alone, unlike say a Toyota Prius, but the system helps to power most of the car's electrical components, taking the load off the petrol engine especially at a stop, and chips in when cruising on the highway.
It can even provide an extra boost of 11 horsepower during acceleration from its electric motor, but you won't really feel the full effect of that extra oomph, because the 530i model as tested here is actually 0.2 seconds slower in getting from 0 to 100km/h than the previous version (6.4 vs 6.2 seconds).
That's despite having a handy 252 horsepower and 350 Newton metres of torque on tap, and the loss is likely due to the extra weight of the hybrid system that the car has to carry around.
No matter, because when you get down to it, the 530i is astonishingly effective in getting you going, delivering its power in an extremely smooth and linear fashion. Prod the accelerator and you'll soon find yourself up against the rear bumper of the car in front of you, just like that. There's no fuss and no drama, and the 530i executes your wishes at the drop of a hat. It feels like a car that can gladly eat up the miles on the highway, all day long.
And it will eat plenty too, given the efficient powertrain. With the mild hybrid system at work, the 530i is able to offer a claimed fuel consumption figure of 5.6 litres per 100km, a significant improvement over the previous 530i which averaged 6.2L/100km. Given the car's 68-litre fuel tank, that translates to a range of 1,217km, or more than enough for you to cover the entire length of Malaysia and about halfway back again.
Most impressive is the fact that you really can achieve the efficiency claims, something otherwise unheard of given the stated efficiency figures for large luxury cars are always terribly optimistic.
A bit of careful driving will see 6.5 to 7 litres per 100km, which is still over 1,000km on a full tank. Engage the car's Eco Pro driving mode and be gentle on the throttle, and the claimed 5.6 figure is actually a realistic target you can reach.
But probably the best thing about the 530i is that it manages to achieve all this without sacrificing any form of driving enjoyment. The 5 Series is undoubtedly a sizeable car now, but it still feels relatively agile to pilot, with its light steering and nifty handling making it arguably the best driving car in its class.
And despite being fitted with BMW's M Sport suspension, which from past experience has tended to offer an unnecessarily harsh ride, the 530i feels quite comfortable over most roads, thanks to its adaptive dampers. It still gets a bit busy over rougher surfaces, but on the whole, the 530i rides well enough to be more than acceptable on a daily basis.
It is a pleasant surprise, but it does go to show the significance of the changes BMW has made with this facelift. It may not look like a lot has changed with the 5 Series, but sometimes, it's the things you don't see that truly make the difference.
BMW 530i M Sport
Engine 1,998cc, in-line 4, turbocharged
Power 252hp at 5,200-6,500rpm
Torque 350Nm at 1,450-4,800rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
0-100km/h 6.4 seconds
Top Speed 250km/h
Fuel Efficiency 5.6L/100km
Agent Performance Motors
Price S$297,888 with COE