Judging by the sales figures for the 5-Series and by the car’s ubiquity on Irish roads, it really didn’t take long for a prosperous Ireland to overlook the somewhat odd looks of the 5-Series and fall in love with the executive saloon. Three years after the car first arrived on Irish shores, the new and updated version makes an appearance. BMW insist it doesn’t do ‘facelifts’ but instead does something called a ‘Life Cycle Impulse’, which is where it makes some cosmetic changes and fixes some things that people didn’t like and adds some things that people wanted. Let’s deal with those first. Visually, only the most anorakish of fans are going to notice much change. At the front, the headlamps and indicator units use clear glass technology while the kidney grille now sits flush with the bumper. The air duct in the front valance has been redesigned, while at the side the sill has an additional contour line. At the rear, the indicators, running and brake lights now use horizontal LED light bars to emphasise the width of the rear. Inside, the door panels have been redesigned, with the window switches now integrated into the armrests. There are also now eight programmable buttons on the dashboard that allow you to set different ‘favourite’ functions, such as calling home, changing to your favourite radio station or turning the heating up full blast. This makes it easier to get to what you want quickly rather than moving through the sometimes-cumbersome i-Drive menus. As part of BMW’s new Efficient Dynamics Programme, changes have been made to the range to improve things like weight, dynamics and consumption, the intention being to develop more power from less fuel in a lower-weight car. The 5-Series range now features Brake Energy Regeneration, which uses energy from braking to charge the car’s battery and thanks to a new high-precision fuel injection system the car is now more powerful and uses less fuel. Across the range, this equates to power increases of up to 20hp and 20Nm as well as improvements in fuel economy by up to 25 percent.
Other changes include a new six-speed automatic gearbox, which comes as standard on the 535d but is a €3,030 option on the other models in the range. It features a new, more ergonomic gear selector. Using upgraded hydraulics and a clever torque converter and more powerful software, the new automatic responds 40 percent faster than before, with shift times halved. Our test car was also adorned with some of the new options available for the car, should you have some money you need to get rid of. Alongside options such as Head-Up Display and Night Vision (€1,875 and €2,810), BMW offers a Lane Departure Warning System (€725 but standard on 535d and 550i models). This comprises a camera mounted next to the interior mirror that monitors the white lines on the road ahead and, if the car crosses the line without obvious intent or without the indicator being used, the driver is notified by a vibration through the steering wheel. Another new feature is Active Cruise Control with Stop and Go (€2,165). This is a very clever feature and perfect for those who spend their time sitting on the M50. This cruise control will keep a fixed distance from the car in front, even at low speeds and will bring the car to a complete stop in traffic. If the period of standstill is less than three seconds, the car will resume its programmed speed. This is a little weird to get used to but it works incredibly well.
We were driving the 535d M Sport, which is a ferociously fast car. It has a 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel with twin turbochargers and this equates to a whopping 286hp and 580Nm of torque that get the car to 100km/h in just 6.4 seconds and on to a limited 250km/h. Yet it can still return 6.8 l/100km with the automatic transmission and a credible 182g/km of CO2, which is still less than the ‘clean’ Lexus GS450h puts out. This car will thunder up and down motorways, yet still feels incredibly agile on the twisty stuff aided and abetted by that monstrously torquey engine. Little has changed dynamically about the car, but the new gearbox is better to use, especially in sequential manual mode, although there is a new Sports Automatic Gearbox that adds a faster shifting box and paddles behind the steering wheel. It will cost you €3,170 on a regular car or €145 as an upgrade on the 535d. With most buyers now opting for the 520d, it is unlikely that we will see too many 535ds sold unless they go to the true, er, diesel-heads because, at this price, depreciation is bound to be pretty savage. However, the upgrades to the car and the new options should keep buyers faithful for at least another few years.
BMW 535d M-Sport
Engine 3.0-litre 6-cylinder Twin Turbo, 286bhp,
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Acceleration 0-100km/h 6.4 seconds
Top speed 250km/h (electronically limited)
Economy 6.8 l/100km/h
CO2 Emissions 182 g/km
Boot Capacity 520 litres
Base Price €86,750
Price as Tested €98,550