Audi A6 2014 review
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Halfway through a seven-year stint as the enviable car bay filler in Australia's corporate garage, BMW raises the bar. Chasing Mercedes' E-Class, BMW Australia has revisited its 5-Series range and loaded up the equipment levels and shuffled prices.
Though BMW Australia managing director Phil Horton says 5-Series is "easily leading" its segment, he's talking global. In Australia, the large car has sold 973 units year-to-date to the end of September compared with E-Class at 1331.
The picture inverts on a global scale and BMW clearly sees room for domestic improvement, a job now handed to the mid-life model 5-Series launched this week in Canberra. BMW continues to fixate the price list of its main German rival. Segment buyers will note close similarities with the price, size and performance of BMW and Mercedes.
Prices have been shuffled for most models, with the cheapest 520i up $1400 to $79,900, and the top-notch 550i down $20,100 to $159,900, but the changes have been accompanied by a huge feature upgrade. BMW Australia product and pricing manager Christoph Priemel this week says $25,800 of extras has been added to the 550i, and the same applies to the other five variants with additional value ranging from $12,800 (520i) to $22,000 (one of the most popular variants, the 528i). The increased equipment list also spreads to the other 5-Series derivatives, the Gran Turismo and slow-selling Touring (wagon) and ActiveHybrid 5.
The value equation lies in the hands of the people that can first afford a BMW 5-Series. That aside, the 520d diesel rates as the most popular 5-Series model and its extra equipment - claimed to be worth $13,100 - is both impressive and practical. It - and the petrol 520i - now adds 18-inch alloys (19-inch is only a $500 option), bi-xenon headlights, Dakota leather upholstery, a premium audio, park sensors front and back plus a reverse camera, upgraded sat-nav and no-cost option Luxury or Modern Lines.
The 528i adds 19-inch wheels, digital radio with a Harman Kardon audio, LED headlights with auto high-beam assist, lane departure warning, collision warning, surround view parking assist and the choice of trims. Similar features are added to the 535i and 535d and the 550i. The Modern (gloss black and alloy trim) and Luxury (chrome trim) lines are a no brainer for customers. They add extra body bling for a personalised look.
Externally there's some extra creases in the sheet metal, new LED fog lights and different tail lights for the sedan. The Gran Turismo version shows its 2014 update a little easier, now with a slightly longer tail that adds 60 litres to the boot capacity (now 500/1700).
All models have, at least, a 12-speaker audio with sat-nav and full connectivity. The wagons, sold as the Touring range, have standard electric tailgate, park assist and sunblinds on the rear side windows. The Modern and Luxury lines add cabin and body trim and indicated on a small fender badge.
The range maintains its drivetrain and performance with new technology aimed at driver convenience. The adaptive LED headlights include an automatic high beam that switches to low beam when it senses oncoming traffic headlights or bright streets. But it will maintain high beam and add a blind spot around oncoming or trailed vehicles to ensure those drivers aren't affected by high-beam glare.
These lights are standard on 528i and higher and a $3500 option on the 520 models. Navigation Professional is on all models and has a touch surface that controls the sat-nav via drawn or written commands. Optional Connected Drive has driver assist functions for internet and iPhone compatibility.
BMW has included previously top-end (and expensive) gear as standard in many new 5-Series versions. The entry-level 520i and 520d get bi-xenon headlights and rear view camera as standard. There is an optional adaptive LED package for $3500 - the package is standard on 528i.
The 528i and up also have "driving assistant" which packs lane departure and collision warning. The 535i and above adds a new self-park feature that in addition to the steering, also controls the accelerator and brake.
This is still a sweet ride and it doesn't matter which model you're in, the ride comfort and sense of solidity is reassuring. The deal here is value for money so I'm covering old ground with the drive. For those who came in late, here's a quick rundown: The 520i belies its 2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a lot of verve and excellent engine response.
It's only when loaded with a couple of adults, while rising a hill and going for the downshift that you feel it take a deep breath. The diesel version (520d) is hard to beat, pushing 380Nm of torque through the common eight-speed transmission while delivering a 4.7L/100km average.
It never feels like a diesel and there's barely a clatter from the bonnet at idle. The 528i adds to the 520i's performance - despite it also having a 2-litre four-cylinder engine - and is the pick of the petrol models. Like the others, the steering is close to perfect and the road holding extremely assured.
The ride comfort tends towards firm but it never imposes on the passengers. The other two driven - the 535d and the 550i - are as impressive with the 550i remaining a potent sedan that has the same performance as the outgoing M3 coupe.
A better model range that lives on its new feature list.
|535i Gran Turismo Luxury Line||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$39,900 – 51,040||2014 BMW 5 Series 2014 535i Gran Turismo Luxury Line Pricing and Specs|
|535i Gran Turismo Modern Line||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$47,500 – 60,060||2014 BMW 5 Series 2014 535i Gran Turismo Modern Line Pricing and Specs|
|ActiveHybrid 5 Luxury Line||3.0L, Hyb/PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$48,400 – 61,160||2014 BMW 5 Series 2014 ActiveHybrid 5 Luxury Line Pricing and Specs|
|550i Modern Line||4.4L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$44,500 – 56,320||2014 BMW 5 Series 2014 550i Modern Line Pricing and Specs|