2018 BMW 5-Series

A Review: 2018 BMW 5-Series

For more than forty years, the BMW 5-Series has been the go-to executive sedan for millions of business-type mile-crunchers with a passion for driving. With show-stopping performance and precision driving, the 2018 5-series is one of the most interactive and innovative vehicles in the BMW lineup. It lives up to the expectations set by its forebears and is available in both sedan and estate form with a choice of three petrol engines – the 520i, 530i, and 540i – three diesels – 520d, 525d and 530d, and one hybrid – the 530e iPerformance. To top is up is the fully loaded 592bhp M5. In addition to the saloon reviewed here, BMW also sells a Touring estate version of the 5-series, available with a range of petrol and diesel engines, rear or all-wheel drive and a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox. The 530e iPerformance plug-in hybrid and the newly launched M5 model ensure BMW has everything it needs to compete with the likes of Audi A6, Jaguar XF, and Mercedes E-class.

This high-end, uber-luxurious car is packed with some highly commendable and rarely matched features for an out-of-the-world driving experience and a supremely comfortable ride. Even with all these improvements, is it appealing enough to remain in the league of modern machines and keep car aficionados hooked? Let’s find out.

Design

The latest BMW 5-Series remains quite conservative, and we for one don’t mind that at all. It borrows heavily from the larger 7-series but gets its own details. Thankfully, the gaping grille has been discarded, retaining just the latest version of BMW’s signature twin-kidney design, flanked by headlight housings that now meet each grille’s edge. Regardless of the trim, the 5-series takes an evolutionary approach to styling compared to its predecessor. It flaunts a sharper nose and more tapered profile along the sides. Creases along the doors under the windows and door handle and updated LED tail lights and chromed exhaust ports finish the 5-series off in its own effortlessly stylish way. Although it may not be a leap beyond the last generation, the 5-series has a handsome interior and good-looking exterior.

Interiors

The 2018 BMW 5-Series is a mid-size luxury sedan with a suite of top-notch features. It nearly aces our comfort index with great front and rear seats, spacious interiors, and plentiful cargo storage. The interior is exquisite with soft-touch surfaces, trimmed in rich leather and super expensive upholstery, although some combinations can get a tad bit distracting and over-the-top – we’re not complaining!

Space

The 5-series has drastically increased in size since it first went on sale in the 1970s which means that you get plenty of room by class standards. There is ample room for one tall adult to sit behind without cause for complaint, and only if somebody sits in the middle of the rear seats that things can get a little uncomfortable. With an inflexible center backrest and a large lump in the floor to straddle, this middle seat is definitely the short straw as far as passenger comfort goes.

Storage is on par with the standard, whether it’s the large door bins or numerous storage trays for holding phones, keys, and wallet. The boot is a huge space so you can easily transport a couple of large cases without a care in the world. To make more space for your luggage, the rear seats can be folded flat in a 40:20:40 split, but only if you specify this as an optional extra. However, the 530e plug-in hybrid loses a large chunk of boot space in order to accommodate the battery for its electric motor.

Comfort

The BMW 5-series is as comfortable as it gets! It is supremely quiet on all road surfaces, with the only disturbance at 70 mph being light rustling sound around the wing mirrors. BMW, like always, has gone to town with the seats too! You can opt for the massage function that turns every journey into a trip to a luxury spa.

Performance

If the driving experience is truly important to you, then the 530i is a sedan to consider. With the exception of upgraded brakes, this BMW doesn’t completely rely on sheer horsepower or road grip to sling it around corners. Instead, you get you a wholesome package that feels extremely well-rounded, which is far better. Some of the latest models to be introduced this year include a V-8-powered M550i xDrive, a diesel-powered 540d, and a plug-in hybrid 530e. The 2018 BMW 5-Series is available in 4-, 6-, and 8-cylinder options, but this is only the tip of the iceberg – we haven’t even considered the hybrid yet. Let’s proceed cautiously then!

The base turbo-4 is fantastic in the 530i, but it’s the transmission, ride, and handling that left us absolutely awestruck. The first option for many buyers is usually the turbo-4 found under the hood of the 530i. It makes 248 hp and 258 lb-feet of torque, and can power the rear wheels as standard or all four via the optional all-wheel drive (AWD), also called xDrive. It boosts the vehicle up to 60 mph in just six seconds, which should be enough for most buyers.

The next step up for car enthusiasts is the 530e, which is powered by a turbo-4 along with a 9.2-kWh battery and electric motor for a combined output of 248 hp and 310 lb-ft. The battery and combustion engine seamlessly work together, with barely a shift in performance from the 530i to the 530e. They both manage the 60 mph sprint in 6.1 seconds. However, the only gripe from this model is that the hybrid running gear adds more than 600 pounds to the overall mass. Most BMW aficionados might be familiar with the 540i badge, but maybe not its brand new engine configuration. A turbo-6 engine replaces the V-8, typically found in 540i models and provides an output of 335 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. It can propel the car to make 60 mph in less than five seconds with rear- or all-wheel drive.

The all-new, flagship 5-Series M550i xDrive mates a 4.4-liter turbocharged V-8 with AWD running gear to charge up to 60 mph in less than four seconds. The 456 hp and 480 lb-ft would be enough to thrill most drivers.

Most models can be equipped with rear-wheel steering and an adaptive damper system that helps improve the car’s ride and behavior. Although we don’t recommend the rear-wheel steering setup as it felt a little out of place, all in all, the 5-series has an overall good steering setup with a direct electrically powered system that responds appropriately. The standard eight-speed automatic gearbox is extraordinary, and the option of having xDrive four-wheel drive turns the 5-series into a true all-weather vehicle. If you explore the available options, you can even specify the car with a remote control parking function that lets you drive the car forward or backward when you’re not in it by using the key – this can be helpful for getting into tight parking space, or simply showing off to your friends.

Features

The 2018 BMW 5-Series places a lot of emphasis on technology with a host of convenience features that can transform the luxury sedan into a mean machine. BMW has been a pioneer in the field of dashboard technology and infotainment system, and the 5-Series is no different. The dashboard layout borrows heavily from its flagship 7-series, which is brilliant. The quality of material used and the range of colors and fabrics available for customizations is almost endless. But its seamless operation is something that really impresses. Considering how much technology it’s got on board, the 5-series is a charm to use – be it simple tasks such as adjusting the heating or more complicated ones like navigating the iDrive infotainment system.

A sharp 8.8-inch LCD screen has been planted in front of the driver inside the instrument cluster, along with a 10.2-inch touchscreen which is perched atop the dashboard. Besides the standard infotainment controls, the introduction of a state-of-the-art touchscreen is BMW’s way to push for connected-car technology, called Connect+. It offers a host of services ranging from trip notification and calendar updates to email alerts and entertainment. It’s an ambitious move for the car company with an eye on the future for self-driving cars.

The basic 530i configuration comes with standard 17-inch wheels, a moonroof, power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, 8.8-inch digital instrument cluster display, LED headlights, synthetic leather upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 10.2-inch touchscreen for infotainment. That’s impressive standard equipment, especially the touchscreen. The 5-Series also offers an exciting range of options that can transform the sedan into a lavish affair.

Reliability

The latest 5-series is quite new for any model specific data to be available, but BMW as a brand didn’t perform too well over the last 2 to 3 years, lagging behind Mercedes, Jaguar and Volvo, but still ahead of Audi in most surveys. The car comes with a warranty that lasts for unlimited miles over its three years. This matches Mercedes and beats Audi, which limits its warranty cover to 60,000 miles.

Fuel Economy

With the 530e hybrid, you should be able to exceed 140 mpg, but that’s only if you regularly plug-in to make use of its pure electric range of up to 30 miles. Fail to do so and economy can easily drop by 100 mpg.

For most drivers, the 5-series will be at its most efficient in the 520d Efficient Dynamics version, in which it returned more than 70 mpg most fuel economy tests. However, you should expect closer to 45 mpg in normal use, but that still places it marginally ahead of a similarly powerful Mercedes E-class or Jaguar XF. The six-cylinder 530d offers a mileage of more than 40 mpg on a long run, which is great considering the performance on offer.

Affordability

Let’s face it, the 5-series was never going to be a cheap car, but neither are its rivals. Indeed, BMW has kept prices in line with offerings from Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes, while strong resale values help to keep leasing costs attractive.

Standard Spec

The 5-series range starts with the SE, which includes 17-inch alloy wheels, heated leather seats, the 10.2-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, front and rear parking sensors, LED headlights, and dual-zone climate control among its long list of standard equipment. M Sport comes with larger wheels, sportier suspension, and more aggressive body styling, none of which do anything to help ride comfort. However, just because the 5-series is well equipped as standard, that doesn’t mean there isn’t scope for jazzing up the car with expensive optional extras.

The options list is endless with so many features to choose from, you will be spoilt for choice. You can add tens of thousands to the bottom line of any 5-Series model.

Some of our favorites:

  • The freshly introduced Premium Package that adds entry-level luxury conveniences such as heated seats and exterior chrome accents.
  • Two levels of driving assistance add confidence to safety features or semi-autonomous driving features that can pilot the car for less than a minute.
  • The latest version of BMW’s infotainment system, iDrive, incorporates wireless CarPlay, which is hugely useful.
  • At $4,200 the Bowers & Wilkins stereo might be the most expensive car stereo system on the planet, but it happens to travel in one of the nicest packages.

We would, however, skip the optional gesture control, which uses a gaggle of sensors that watch for hands and fingers to change volume, skip tracks by circling, waving, or otherwise gesturing the touchscreen. While fascinating from a technical standpoint, in practice it’s little more than a gimmick.

It’s also refreshing to note that BMW has retained its large rotary controller and a series of shortcut buttons for the iDrive, both of which make it easy to navigate through functions when on the move.

Finally, a word for the optional and excellent head-up display, which projects a full-color representation of the speedometer and satnav on to the windscreen. BMW has long been at the front of the field for such systems, and the 5-series is no different.

Safety

Not all the safety data for the 2018 BMW 5-series is in but what’s available is good so far! All models have six airbags and an autonomous emergency braking system that can automatically apply the brakes if it thinks you are going to collide with another vehicle or pedestrian.

BMW’s Driving Assistant option bundles together most of the safety features you could wish for – lane departure warning, blind spot monitors, and automatic closing of windows and sunroof in an emergency braking situation to ensure occupants are protected as much as possible.

The Verdict

Is the BMW 5-series the best car in the world? Certainly, one of the top contenders, thanks to an amazing combination of performance, ride comfort, luxury, indulgence, and technology that edge it ahead of its key rivals. By any measure, it’s a truly outstanding machine that worth every penny!


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