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BMW 5 Series LWB - First Impression

Stretching the art of sedan

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Seven generations and creating an entire automotive segment later, the eighth-gen BMW 5 series is ready to wow corporate India. The quintessential “business sedan” is being launched exclusively in Long Wheelbase (LWB) form and Stuff (India) got an exclusive pre-launch preview. Peppered with a “teaser” drive, it also allowed us to form a quick impression behind its very substantial feeling steering wheel. Like all modern BMWs, it’s a grower, not a shower.

Design Impression

The sharp, shark-nose gets even sharper headlights but the beloved ‘angel-eyes’ motif has made way for uninspired slivers of LED. A redeeming feature is the matte bronze trim accent around the kidney grille and window line. The traditional Hoffmeister kink gets an etched Series indicator that looks smart and will be seen on other Series’ too. Around the back, slim all-LED tail lights are a departure from the current chunky 3D elements on the outgoing car. Fans of visible exhaust pipes can hold a candle and pray for the M5, because the 530Li isn’t entertaining any such requests.

Tech Impression

The cabin is all-new too and a big departure from the current gen in design, materials and tech. A large and curved pane of single-piece glass holds two digital displays - 12.3in instrument cluster and a 14.9in infotainment screen. Powered by the latest BMW OS 8.5, it gets new graphics and a Quick Select menu that lets you access oft-used functions like maps, media and telephony instantly. You can also watch YouTube videos on the screen when the car is in park mode and if that doesn’t entertain you enough, there’s a selfie cam on board to help save the moment, if you’ve had one. All the modern driving and parking aids are present, along with wireless charging, wireless CarPlay and USB-C ports galore.

Plucked straight from the 7-series, the BMW Interaction Bar adds a touch of glam to the cabin by draping the dash in different colours, depending on the drive mode or mood setting. It also acts like a shroud for the “invisible” AC vents that do a brilliant job of diffusing the airflow without taking up visible real estate. The AC controls are etched onto this surface and add an undeniable touch of futurism to the cabin. Everything from the vegan interior and stone-effect dashboard trim to the illuminated speaker grilles that show off the Bowers & Wilkins sound system looks and feels exquisitely put together. But the most obvious change is on the back seat which now experiences 130mm of additional legroom, thanks to the extended wheelbase and it is instantly tangible. Not only that, but even the seat recline angle and height have been readjusted to make ingress and egress much more effortless. The lovely neck pillows and the new, wraparound nature of the seat back cushion cosset you in luxury that comes within spitting distance of the 7 series.

Drive impression

With just three laps around a back road in Gurgaon, there wasn’t much we could do to test the dynamics of the new 5, but the ride quality from the back seat could be easily appreciated as having been improved. Sure, there is a bit of body roll but the pliant and cushioned waftiness of the new 5 should take the fight right up to the E-Class’ nose. For the chauffeur-driven aspirants, BMW has delivered a slam dunk. Behind the steering wheel, the 255hp/400Nm inline 4-cylinder engine under the sculpted hood makes its presence felt. 

Momentum is gathered effortlessly and even within the 1km stretch of road, we were doing unspeakable speeds and when it was time to turn this barge around, it did so with graceful coquetry from the rear-end, reminding us that we were still driving a BMW! What seemed a bit odd was the choice of 18in wheels shod with high-profile rubber on the pre-production cars we were driving, but it did seem to have the necessary effect on ride quality. 

The steering felt more electronic than mechanical and there was a sense of disconnect from the front wheels, but there is no denying that it is a rapid, comfortable and exciting car to drive. The short drive didn’t allow us to test the 18-speaker 655-watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system but we’re pretty sure we heard pseudo engine/exhaust sounds being piped through the system and it certainly helped in making the 3 laps more engaging.

Coming soon…

While we await more quality time with the 530Li, BMW will be officially announcing the starting price and delivery date soon. We can’t wait to get back into that cabin for more techsploring!