BMW 5 Series 2007 review
July 4, 2007
$11,110 - $15,180
There's a pattern forming here. Two years ago, almost to the day, we extended our sympathies to all who had recently bought a BMW 530i.
At that point, two years into the life cycle of the E60 5 Series, the fine 170kW 3.0-inline six that had been carried over from the E39 was chucked for an even better unit.
Explore the 2007 BMW 5 Series Range
The all-new magnesium-aluminium composite unit was good for 190kW at 6600rpm with peak torque remaining 300Nm between 2500 and 4000rpm.
Well, wouldn't you know it, 24 months down the line mainstay 530i sedan (and wagon variant) gets another 10 kilowatts and 15 extra Newton metres for a 200kW/315Nm total.
Seldom has the wisdom of awaiting a model cycle's mid-life before signing the lease been so crystalline. Not that there's anything new in that notion. As to what's new within the 530i, two innovations vie for the most welcome.
First seen in the X5 SUV, the new six-speed automatic transmission is claimed to have 40 per cent faster reaction times and swifter gearshifts. This is controlled not by a conventional gearstick but an electronic selector lever.
This follows the usual shift pattern, but returns to its initial position once the gear selected is in mesh. Smarter yet, the transmission itself is masterminded not by the usual mechanical process, but via electrical signals.
To fully appreciate its efficacy, you'd really want to run it alongside the just-superseded 530i with its already excellent six-speed ZF auto set up. Suffice to say, it's seamless. And 'sad' to say it also works so slickly in manual mode that another nail has been hammered into the coffin of the conventional manual.
The revised 530i reaches 100km/h from standing one-tenth quicker at 6.6 seconds (fast feats are augmented by revised Dynamic Stability Control with extra brake functions to battle fade and wet weather).
And it does so for the same combined fuel claim as before, 9.3 litres per 100km.
The other innovation adds desperately needed facility to the enigma that is the i-Drive multi-media system.
Also foreshadowed in the X5, this version of i-Drive receives favourite buttons so that preferred functions — be they audio, navigational or telephonic — can be activated by fingertip rather than via the distracting fiddling required to enter and operate this supremely geekish and pointlessly complex system.
The E60's cockpit-rather-than-cabin interior has earned it as many gripes as the body styling.
Chrome finish on the controls, padding on the door armrests and twin-tone panels address ambience rather than essence, though with the slightly bigger door pockets and a niche to stow your mobile, you've finally got adequate oddment storage.
Upholstery and trim options are numerous and such wood grain options as these include are mercifully low-key.
While BMW is among the few marquees that bother placing the handbrake for right-hand-drive, the wipers on our car stayed in Europe — they're supposed to go flush against the driver's side of the windshield.
Outward embellishments run to mild modifications of the double kidney grille, new tech glass over the lights and LED blinkers, plus an extra light contour on the sills.
The options list now includes lane change warning system ($1200), thermal imaging night vision ($4000), active cruise control ($4500) and high-end audio (up to $4000) on top of the up-front $113,500 plus on-roads.
The range starts at $84,900 with the 523i sedan with its 130kW 2.5 inline six, up to $231,500 for the weapons-grade V10-powered M5.
The 530i remains the 'volume seller' if such a term can be used in this segment and with reason.
CARSguide secured the first Australian drive of the revised series, selecting a sedan for a 320km solo test loop from outer Melbourne through rural Victoria to Lake Eildon and circuitously to Tullamarine.
If this little jaunt failed to fling us any surprises, it served as a timely clarity reinforcer.
If this segment has never been so competitive, then no other entrant will so flatter your driving as a 5 Series.
If cruising is effortless, B-road hustling and rapid overtaking are almost too easy.
The speed readout on that heads-up display, the item from the optional $2500 Professional Pack that comes closest to being indispensable, seldom seems to have any relation to reality.
A brilliantly sorted car, the 530i just doesn't seem to be working hard especially when it is.
Tuned less rigidly than a $4000 M-Sport variant (the standard 17-inch tyres are rubber enough, especially when the rubber is of the run flat variety), the 5 remains by some way the most dynamically adroit in its class.
It's about time we developed shorthand for handling verities that stem from 50:50 weight distribution and rear-wheel-drive. We're almost as sick of writing them in full as you are of reading them.
But these are always there, despite steering that wants for weight to complement its accuracy. The other perennial is price.
As ever, as with every BMW, the 530i costs too bloody much. But while sales have taken a hit this year, it's not because of the asking price.
They can get away with charging this sort of loot because when it comes to what happens when you get behind the wheel.
$11,110 - $15,180