7 Series Luxury on a “budget”
Is it right that you should be able to sit in a mobile gent’s club doing 7.9L/100k?
The is a regal quality to the fancy metalwork. It looks expensive, and that is just as well. While the 5 Series isn’t handsome as such, it is very imposing.
As one old man said as I stopped at the lights, “that’s some fancy bucket of bolts you have there, matey”. Serves me right for driving through Surry Hills with the windows down.
The both ends are bejeweled in sparkling LEDs. While the tail lights look great at night, the front end looks mesmerizing all the time.
The Angel Eyes daytime running lights look evil, but at night, the headlight array goes into full SciFi mode.
You can choose to activate High Beam Assist which will switch between various modes so that the road remains well lit, but oncoming traffic isn’t dazzled.
That’s some mighty fine alchemy.
The exterior is further adorned with lashings of chrome. The 7th generation 5 Series has smoothed off some of the rather unnecessary body contouring of previous models.
Body coloured door handles have just a splash of chrome, and hold the smart entry lock/unlock system within.
BMW handles have raised lines to note where the locking touch pad is. Unlocking is by grasping the handle. Both work as long as the key is secreted about your person.
The low-profile run-flat tyres look like mere schmears on the gorgeous 20” rims. I like bling, and these look the full monty.
Although I like the look, it isn’t the eye-catcher a 5 series once was. I’m not completely sure you’d pick one in traffic.
There is only one word for the cabin: luscious.
Everything drips with luxury. The diamond pattern uber-soft Nappa seating is heated and cooled, and will give you a gentle massage if the mood takes you.
Our test car has a base price of $120 grand, but with an additional $21,000 of tasty options, fairly bristles with tech too numerous to name.
The Burled Walnut is topped off with smatterings of satin chrome and looks great.
A few notable changes are the indicators and the LCD tablet.
The indicators once flicked back to the neutral position when activated, but now stay in the direction of the turn, like most other cars. It was annoying, and confusing.
The floating centre LCD tablet is super-wide with great resolution, and has touch function. It makes input easy, and includes gesture control.
You can use voice input if you can be bothered, but it is much less infuriating if you use your fingers.
Finally, handsfree Siri is genuinely handsfree. No buttons need pressing. As long as the background noise isn’t too bad, say “hey Siri”, and the system comes to life with the familiar Apple “bong-bong”.
I was able to perform an impressive range of voice functions with my hands never leaving the wheel.
I could navigate, make and receive calls and texts, and play music. I could also ask Siri to find me the nearest food and fuel, and if she was feeling chatty,would make lots of suggestions. I reckon she is getting a bit cheeky though.
On one occasion, she told me to do it myself, as if she was getting a bit narky. There is something very wrong about a car getting all flirty with you. Buttering me up won’t get her a better gong.
BMW has outdone itself by making the CarPlay wireless.
Just a word of warning, your battery runs down quick smart if you’re navigating, playing music and making hotel reservations simultaneously.
My advice is to plug it in anyway.
The new 5 Series is posh, no question about it. There are those bemoaning the loss of the sporting proclivities of 5’ers gone by. It’s stuff and nonsense. If you want a sports car, buy a sports car.
It is a pleasure to set off on a journey knowing your internal organs won’t ruptured by 5 minutes in Elizbeth Street. I’d rather be pampered thanks very much.
The ride is nothing short of sumptuous. The is ride control which the driver can configure to suit his fancy. The is not a world of difference between the various modes, but fear not, they’re all fabulous.
Most of the time the only sound is the air coming from the vents.
Should you care for a spot of music, the killer sound system is deep and rich. Any music style comes over as the performers intended. The lows hit you in the pit of the stomach if that’s the sort of thing that floats your boat.
It is as if the band was in the back seat.
The direct select buttons can switch between your favourite AM/FM/DAB stations, but will store functions such as SatNav Destination Input. It German genius at its best.
Touching the power seat buttons brings the graphic up on the centre screen before you’ve actually started making the adjustment, so you’ll always know exactly what you’re doing.
The car fits like a fine kid glove.
The steering isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be. Electric steering rarely is. But it means you can park the car by pressing a button. No hands or feet are required.
There is a remote to use from outside the car if you really want to show off.
The suspension is making thousands of calculations a second, and adjusts the ride depending on load, so cornering is surprisingly good. There is just a sensation of body roll to keep you on your toes, but the 530d goes exactly where you point it.
Pushing through corners brings out the Jekyll and Hyde. The car gets all low and mean, and hunkers down as if it knows what’s coming. Switching direction feels like you’re strapped to a frisky kitten.
You’d never guess you’re still in a big German barge.
Not all sporting aspirations have been banished.
There is a pleasing raspy note to the 3.0L diesel. It’s no shrinking violet either. Stick the boot in, and the 195kw/620Nm power plant will rocket you to 100 in just 5.7 seconds.
BMW claims 4.7L/100, but we managed a slightly more believable 7.8 combined.
The response from the engine is simply stupendous.
We managed the usual city chores, and even tried the automated parking. It goes against everything a driver has ever been taught, but an owner will find the gadget invaluable.
The fine tolerances means you only need 200mm clearance front and back.
The camera tech is astounding. You can even programme the system to come on at tricky intersections. The screen will display the car as if taken from a drone hovering overhead.
I had trouble seeing some of the smaller posts, and they’re the ones which do most of the damage.
No, I didn’t bend the Beemer.
Highway duty was where I found the big BMW most at home. It was magnificent. The system will centre the car in the lane, and the cruise control will slow down to keep a safe distance from traffic ahead.
The same system should also stop you from banging into things at slow speeds.
If it feels too intrusive, you can turn it off with the steering-wheel-mounted control.
BMW goes to great pains to tell you that any damage you do to your car using these systems is your fault not theirs. The traffic assist mode leaves the driver to ponder the universe while the car deals with stopping and starting.
The tech will do whatever it can to keep you safe, even if you’re driving leaves much to be desired.
At night, the cabin really comes to life. We chose a gentle blue light with white highlights. The speakers are lit from inside, and the driver’s LCD instruments show their full beauty.
The screen, and the one in the centre console, look better than 8K TV.
There is simply too much good stuff to put into one review. The car is crammed to the gunnels with tech.
No expense has been spared on luxury accoutrements.
At $141,000-ish, our car was a full $200 grand less than BMWs grand poohbah, the 750Li. Yet, the 5 Series felt every bit as luxurious and fun on the road.
The Ambient air freshener got very annoying. Even after it was turned off, the residual scent made the cabin take on the feeling of an art deco public toilet when the climate was on. In the bin with it.
I love the 530d, I love it a lot. Of course, the 540i would be my pick, but the diesel fuel savings can’t be ignored. A road trip in the lap of luxury would get you from sydney to Melbourne, and part way back.
The boot is huge, and power operated. The doors have power soft-close, so no noise other than a softly whirring electric motor is heard after the engine turns off.
The experience begins the second you open the door, but even more interestingly, the exterior takes on a slightly rosier hew.
Is it my imagination, or does the rear end have a slightly Japanese flavour?
Would I buy one? Yes, it was spectacular.
Price: $119,900 (as tested $141,123). Includes tax but excludes onroads. Follow link for on-road price.
Engine: 6cyl, 3.0L Twin Turbo Diesel, 195kw/620Nm
0-100kph: 5.7 seconds
CO2: 124 g/km
Transmission: 8-speed sport automatic.