The new BMW 5-Series is facing one of its most difficult challenges…
If you are suffering from severe range anxiety), council of Andorra?
This small principality located in the Pyrenees between Spain and France, he has such a generous tax laws for alcohol, cigarettes and, of course, fuel is at about €1, which is currently at 85 cents per litre – are extremely cheap. Which means that the filling stations are everywhere.
“You should go to Andorra,” I was told when we were in a row, the longest test yet of the new BMW 5 Series. Our mission was a drive of at least 2000 km, from southern Spain to Britain, in three days, with the second of those spent somewhere pretty for the pictures.
Andorra is very beautiful, apparently. But, 10 minutes in, entering the capital, Andorra la Vella, all I saw is the beauty of two-dozen fueling stations, inhabited in part by the andorrans, but especially on the part of the Spaniards, who have made the short trip across the border for fuel and/or drink and smoke. Is easily the most flammable country I’ve never been, then, if not the most picturesque, or at least not yet.
But I’m confident that it will be. I have seen the web site and gave the alarm. If Andorra is famous for anything (outside of the north of Spain, where they know that cheap intoxicant runs), is skiing.
In practice, the entire 180 square miles of ski slopes, it is not true? Or, at least, so ask the photographer Stan Papior while we are spending a full day of spearing north through Spain lightly trafficked highways.
“Everything will be fine”, he says, with the impunity of a man who will only have to look as I gently slip into an icy ditch. “However, this is not the car four-wheel drive?”
Is. It is a BMW G30 (new vehicle name in the code) 530d xDrive M Sport saloon B57 engine (code name) 3.0 d, according to the official bumph. All of this means that this should be a 3.0-liter diesel highway bruiser and all-rounder of the first order.
The power is 261bhp, the torque is 457lb ft, and CO2 emissions are 138g/km, at a cost of £48,355 before options. This car has a couple of the ones that take the price on the specification sheet to more than £60,000, but we’ll come back to. The main options, in a dynamic way, are 20in wheels and adaptive control for the shock absorbers. As usual, this all gets a bit complicated: if you choose an M Sport-spec car, you get lowered suspension, which now is possible to have with xDrive if you want (not you used to be able to). However, it is possible to eliminate the lowered suspension at no cost if you choose, so you get a M Sports regular IF the suspension. The 530d with or without xDrive and two-wheel drive form rear-driven.
In short, there are a lot of choices, but what worries me more is that this 5 Series with tyres Pirelli P Zero tires. So I bypass the market cigs and buy snow socks.
It is not that there is snow, at least at the lower levels (where the capital city of Andorra), bar the odd icy bank, where the stuff was shovelled earlier in the winter. And there is the sun; because of its high elevation above the sea level, Andorra is snow-capped in winter, and the interweb tells me, cooler than you’d expect in the south of France/northern Spain in the summer.
That the climate is why people love it for skiing, cycling and mountain biking, or driving. The sun, above the 10th Cbut with snow visible on the highest peaks, it feels like you could have both in the summer and in the winter, a holiday at the same time.
If you do that, a 5 Series is so far proving to be a nice tidy way to get there. BMW throws everything up in the 5 Series, its longest-service model, now in its seventh generation. It rides on the same platform, introduced last year, as the new 7 Series, but only because the 7 Series is bigger and more expensive, I don’t think the technology leader. Of course, the 5 Series is not without a Series 7 composite within the structure, but the body is aluminium, part of an eminently reasonable mixed-metal solution for a structure that has claimed to be 100 kg lighter than its predecessor, despite a marginal increase in size (is still 1770kg in this spec, mind). And among the options you’ll find some of the more advanced connectivity you could wish for.
Still, it’s a great machine, in 4936mm long and, like all executive cars, which makes it potentially unwieldy beast. In the course of the decades, executive car rose to that of luxury, size, so that a 3-Series, about four and a half metres of length, is where my own preferred blend of refinement and agility sits. But the space and isolation offered by the 5 Series, should not be smelt. Shoulder room is exceptionally large, the rear seats and the trunk are great, and the 5 Series is slightly decalcified 7-Series platform is imperious and smooth Spanish motorways. I want to drive 730 km in a day? Us, and the 530d engine amazing isolation and without effort and determination its easy 40mpg economy – make it one of the most interesting ways to do it.
You need to be, mind, because this is an extraordinarily difficult category at the moment. At the beginning of this year I wrote a comparison between the executive estates: a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Volvo V90 and Audi A6, and we rarely test drive that feel so balanced and so competitive that what they are doing. There will be a rematch of some kind on these pages in the coming weeks, but no cars of this class steamrollers the competition as it once was. Each producer, the resources are so large, and they all have so much riding on it, that is the best company can do is rarely night and day from one another.
Even so, this 5 Series has a car. The isolation In which it is easy to be affected by it. It is directed with precision and in a positive way, with a reassuring weight, the driving position is spacious and comfortable, in speed, the motor is not audible, and there is a lot of fun, and not only the DJ Papior the choice of a Cliff Richard song on Spotify. Connectivity and communication are first class (although Google Maps still walks all over the BMW’s own sat-nav, as in all the others), and the automony… coming.
Like its mixed-material architecture and its approach to the diesel, gasoline, and the electrification, the BMW is significantly open-minded about autonomous driving: he knows that if it covers everything, it has options in every market. Then the figures that most of the time that you want to drive, but that, sometimes, you might want a hand, and at the end you ‘ ll want the machine to do its own thing. And you want all of that from a machine.
The new 5 Series, then, may govern itself in its lane and accelerate and brake. Is not independent by any means – the steering has a halfmoment hesitation when you pass a slip road on the motorway, but I find it rejects the fatigue of the driver; it is possible to maintain your awareness, but reduce the tasks you usually have to play, even unconsciously. In the UNITED kingdom, where it is crowded and the lane discipline is appalling , it is less useful, but abroad in the wide, quiet streets I’d like to tick the box option each time.
What it means is that when beginning to spy on the streets to push higher in Andorra, I’m more cool than I would be otherwise, and this is a BMW, can I turn off all the driving aids. The roads here are kept clear, even up to the ski resorts, which is just as well, because, while most people are running a winter tyre, certainly not all. But press a little – on the way to the lifts, at least. They are excited, presumably because they are slower on the way back towards the end. But these roads, at this time of year, while beautiful, are not built to enjoy on four wheels. We find the best of the more tranquil – and, lower down, in the south-facing slopes where, if there was some snowfall in winter, you are left with what feels like the spring in the air, leaving only the part to ensure there is skiing at the higher levels.
And here the Series 5 is good, fun, with a lot of traction, grip, poise and the feedback. No car of this caliber will be really beautifully, incredibly agile, even if the Jaguar XF has a crack in it. But do not forget that this is a multi-tasker; what it tries to do in this end of the scale should be offset from one thing to the other end, where cars like the Mercedes e-Class And excel. Of course, I am not convinced of the 5 Series, at least 20 years, is comfortable And classy, or feel as nimble as a XF, but I can’t imagine BMW deliberately pitches between the two. I rather suspect that he thinks that the 5 Series defines the segment, and that other cars will align themselves around it, rather than the other way around. But I think that is the car that BMW feel that has the widest performance range in the industry, meaning more comfortable And classy, as dynamic, as an XF, as nicely built inside a A6 and as cool as a V90.
I leave it for someone else to decide where on the spider web graph of attributes, the 5-Series, finally, sits. Meantime , I’m happy to swerve several times around the same series of hairpin bends to Papior camera, soaking in the view and enjoy the balance of the car, although knowing that when the sun goes down behind the Pyrenees, and the lighting is right, Stan will take his last photos, and we’ll have another devil of a car in front of us. Sin. I could use another day somewhere as pretty as this. Yet, a third non-stop day at the wheel, another 800 km. With that type of car in front of you, you want a world class car in which to do it, one that is comfortable, fast, economic, connected, and ready to help. The new 5 Series, there is no doubt, it is exactly this type of machine.