BMW 5-Series (G30)


Debut: 2016
Maker: BMW
Predecessor: 5-Series F10



 Published on 5 Jan 2017
All rights reserved. 

BMW has very high expectation for G30, so high that it is adding a third production site in Austria...


The 5-Series has always been an important member of BMW, contributing a substantial part of sales and profit to the group. The last generation, F10 5-Series was the most successful of its breed, registering 2.2 million units of sales during its 7-years lifespan, up from 1.4 million units of E60, 1.47 million units of E39, 1.3 million units of E34, 722,000 units of E28 and 700,000 units of the original E12. As a result, BMW has very high expectation for the new G30 model, so high that apart from the main assembly plant at Dingolfing, Germany, and the Chinese plant at Shenyang (which produces only LWB version), it is going to add a third production site at Graz, Austria, in the contract manufacturing plant of Magna Steyr. Why is it so confident? Hopefully we can find out from this review.

If you examine its exterior design, you might not get a straightforward answer. The G30 takes an evolutionary styling approach, unlike the leap taken by E39 or E60. Much of its genes are shared with the latest 7-Series, especially the front end with a wider version of double kidney grille. Its new nose gives it a more distinctive character than the slightly bland nose of the outgoing car. The rest of the car, however, is barely polished, getting slightly sleeker to achieve lower aerodynamic drag. The sleekest model is claimed to have a drag coefficient of 0.22, which should be a new record (both Mercedes E-class and Audi A4 are good for 0.23). This must thanks to the use of active shutter grille, underbody sealing and careful management of turbulence around wheel arches.


The sleekest model is claimed to have a drag coefficient of 0.22, a new record.


Size-wise, the new car is also a small evolution from the outgoing car. It is just 36mm longer, 6mm wider, 2mm taller and 7mm longer in wheelbase. As before, the chassis is a mix of high-strength steel and aluminum. Most of the load-bearing structure is made of high- and ultra-high-strength steel, but the latter is used more extensively, especially at the roof rails and front cross member. As before, the front strut towers are constructed out of aluminum, but now the longitudinal frames underneath them are also made of aluminum, as are the rear side members. Meanwhile, the dashboard cross support is made of magnesium. Although the car is derived from the same platform as the 7-Series, it skips the latter’s carbon-fiber structural parts due to cost concern. Outside, the bonnet, roof, boot lid and all four doors are made of aluminum. Overall, the percentage of lightweight materials has been increased considerably such that the whole car is lighter. A comparison with our old data will find the new 5-Series models undercut their corresponding old models by between 55 and 105 kg. Meanwhile, horizontal comparison will find the BMW is also lighter than its arch-rival Mercedes E-class and even the all-aluminum Jaguar XF! Sometimes subtle revisions may result in considerable progress.

At the suspension, the double-wishbone front axle is carried over, but the rear axle is changed from the compact integral multi-link to a true 5-link design similar to the 7-Series', which should allow finer tuning. Besides, both suspensions use more aluminum content to cut weight while adding rigidity. Overall, unsprung weight is reduced by a further 9 kg. As before, adaptive dampers and active anti-roll bars are available, but it refuses to follow Mercedes and Audi to adopt air suspension. You can opt for xDrive 4WD system, which is now available to nearly all engines no matter in left or right hand drive forms, or active rear-wheel steering, which improves agility.


The new 5er undercuts its predecessor by 55 to 105 kg. It is lighter than even the all-aluminum Jaguar XF!


The range of engines are not exactly new because most of them have been used in the 3 and 7-Series. They consist of the modular family B48 2-liter 4-cylinder, B58 3-liter 6-cylinder, B57 2-liter 4-cylinder diesel and B57 3-liter 6-cylinder diesel, in addition to N63 4.4-liter V8. All petrol engines feature direct injection, double Vanos, Valvetronic and twin-scroll turbo. The diesel engines employ 2500-bar common-rail injection and VTG turbocharger. 6-speed manual is still available to smaller engines, but most cars should employ the carried-over 8-speed ZF automatic, which is still the very best in the industry.

We always love the gasoline straight-six turbo for its smoothness, free-revving manner and good power and torque. In the new 540i, its output is increased to 340hp, taking 0-60 mph acceleration to less than 5 seconds, or even 4.6 seconds with the traction advantage of xDrive! That was the performance level of M5 a couple of generations ago! The new M550i xDrive with its 462hp V8 is even more astonishing, taking only 3.9 seconds to finish the same sprint. Do we really need an M5? Yes, we do, but before it arrives in a couple of years’ time, we should have not much regret.

However, the best thing about BMW is that all its engines are good or excellent, no matter the entry-level 520d or four-cylinder 530i, or the plug-in hybrid 530e, or the mass-selling 530d six-cylinder diesel. They provide good performance, refinement, fuel economy and emission without resorting to tricks (unlike Audi). No one else in the industry has a better powertrain lineup.


New interior looks remarkably close to that of the 7-Series. The quality and craftsmanship are finally on a par with Mercedes and Audi...


While it keeps the advantage in powertrains, it has greatly closed the gap from rivals in interior design and finishing. Now the interior looks remarkably close to that of the 7-Series, which is a good news because it looks upmarket, expensive and high-tech. While the dashboard design doesn’t break new ground, it is reshaped to be sleeker and its center console more oriented towards the driver. The quality of materials and craftsmanship are finally a match to Mercedes and Audi, which is currently the benchmark of the class. Moreover, the BMW has plenty of electronic gadgets to play with. The updated i-Drive system offers a larger (10.25-inch) free-standing display, and it is finally a touchscreen to please those not akin to the rotary control knob on transmission tunnel. Alternatively, it can recognize gesture or voice commands. The new TFT instrument panel is clearer to read and its theme will change according to driving modes. Benefited by the 7-Series, the 5er gets countless of semi-autonomous driving aids, such as adaptive cruise control with automatic lane change capability working up to 112 mph.

The cabin offers more space, too. Rear legroom is improved by 30mm, while rear headroom is also more generous. As the outgoing car was still roomy enough to match Mercedes E-class and Audi A6, the new car is even more competitive. Seating comfort is also improved by new seats. The front seats are more supportive for better comfort in long drives. The rear bench seat is reshaped to better serve the middle passenger. At the back, the boot is enlarged slightly to 530 liters.


Benefited by 4-wheel steering, it is unusually agile for a car of this size...


However, the key question is still how it behaves on the road. The outgoing F10 was dynamically accomplished, but its steering disappointed and its ride not the best sorted. It was neither as comfortable as Mercedes E-class nor as engaging to drive as Jaguar XF or Cadillac CTS. Thankfully, the G30 is much better sorted. Take 540i for example, its powertrain is close to perfection. Power delivery is creamy smooth yet responsive and elastic. The ZF transmission shifts seamlessly yet quickly. The car is so quick that you can’t believe it possess only 340 horsepower – it seems that BMW’s 340 hp is more than Jaguar’s 380 hp.

Dial to Sport mode and the 540i gets more serious. Its steering loads up, and its gear ratio is direct enough to give you reassuring confidence. It is also a tad more communicative than the helm of F10, even though it will never return to the level of E39. Slip into the first corner, the 540i displays unusual agility for a car of this size. The active rear-wheel steering plays an important role to sharpen its handling, but even without it the new 5-Series is still more agile than the old car, thanks to the new rear suspension and the stiffer chassis. It feels light and very well balanced. The stiffened dampers provide tight body control, and the tires afford generous grip. Is it sharper to steer or better controlled than Jaguar XF? Probably not, but the gap has largely narrowed.


M550i xDrive takes only 3.9 seconds to do 0-60 mph. Do we really need an M5?


More surprising is how well it matches Mercedes E-class for comfort and refinement in more relaxed driving modes. Apart from the smooth and quiet straight-six, the suspension is also much better isolated from road shocks and noise than the old car, which is quite an achievement considering the lack of air springs. No matter high-speed bumps, ripples, expansion joints or low-speed potholes, the new chassis deals with much greater authority. In fact, it soaks up sharp bumps more effortlessly than the air-sprung Mercedes. Wind noise is remarkably low, too.

For pure driving, I suppose the Jaguar XF might still hold a slight edge, but the BMW has unquestionably better powertrains and performance, not to mention its far more convincing accommodation, comfort, build quality and tech toys, overwhelming enough to guarantee a higher ranking. What about the Mercedes E-class? It is handsome outside and impeccable inside, but now the BMW has matched or even surpassed it in running refinement, while handling and driver engagement is on another level. This means, the 5-Series is once again the car to beat in the class. Its next challenger will come from Audi, but I suspect it won’t have much problem to keep its title for many more years.

Verdict: 
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
530i
2016
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4936 / 1868 / 1479 mm
2975 mm
Inline-4
1998 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
252 hp
258 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
225/55R17
1540 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.9 (c)
-
530d
2016
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4936 / 1868 / 1479 mm
2975 mm
Inline-6, diesel
2993 cc
DOHC 24 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
265 hp
457 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
225/55R17
1640 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.4 (c)
-
540i (xDrive)
2016
Front-engined, R(4)WD, 4WS
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4936 / 1868 / 1479 mm
2975 mm
Inline-6
2998 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
340 hp
332 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
245/45YR18
1595 (1660) kg
155 mph (limited)
4.9 (c) / 4.7* (4.6 (c) / 4.5*)
11.1* (11.0*)




Performance tested by: *C&D





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
M550i xDrive
2016
Front-engined, 4WD, 4WS
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4936 / 1868 / 1479 mm
2975 mm
V8, 90-degree
4395 c.c.
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT, VVL
Twin-turbo
DI
462 hp
479 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 245/40YR19
R: 275/35YR19
1810 kg
155 mph (limited)
3.9 (c)
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Performance tested by: -





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