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BMW 540i 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
7.6
With the new 540i BMW knew it had to bring its A-game. And using the 7 Series as inspiration, that is exactly what it did.

The 5 Series has featured in the BMW line-up for more than four decades. During that time the luxury sedan, the pick for business executives who wanted to show a bit of panache, has been both an impressive front-runner and a slightly disappointing iteration - fortunately for the Bavarian manufacturer, however, not in equal measure.

Over the last five years in particular, rivals have started to widen the gap in performance, technology, design, everything that counts really, and while the 5 Series remained in favour with the BMW faithful, it failed to capture the imagination outside that circle.

With the new 540i BMW knew it had to bring its A-game. And using the 7 Series as inspiration, that is exactly what it did.

BMW 5 Series 2017: 540i M-SPORT
Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.2L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$90,640

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

At first glance the new 540i seems almost identical to the car it replaces. Look twice, however, and you will soon see the error of your ways, with the larger kidney-shaped grilles with automatic shutters the most obvious of the design changes.

The shutters, which help air move around the car, improves aerodynamics and with it, efficiency.

LED headlights are wider and larger than before, while the side mirrors, too, get a more sculpted streamlined look.

The exterior form of this new 540i is subtle and sleek, self-assured grandeur without the theatrics. Interestingly, it is the sheet metal itself and the underbody paneling that present the most exciting design features. The extensive use of aluminium has resulted in a car that is some 100kg lighter than its predecessor, yet stronger and stiffer, resulting in more dynamic, sportier performance.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

That the 5 Series has upped its game is clear in the sumptuous luxury of the interior, where the smell and feel of the quilted nappa leather, the beautiful grain of the dark burled walnut trim, and the ceramic finish on the controls are just the first course of what is a veritable feast for the senses.

Seating is plush throughout, with all passengers having access to heated seats, while those ensconced in the front get the added benefit of the massage function. Head and legroom are generous, enough even for adults in rear to get in a good stretch.

  • There are two cupholders in front of the gear lever, a smallish console box and usable door bins. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo) There are two cupholders in front of the gear lever, a smallish console box and usable door bins. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo)
  • That the 5 Series has upped its game is clear in the sumptuous luxury of the interior. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo) That the 5 Series has upped its game is clear in the sumptuous luxury of the interior. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo)
  • The electrically-assisted steering is smooth over bumps. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo) The electrically-assisted steering is smooth over bumps. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo)

Passengers in the second row have other creature comforts, too, including adjustable air, large door bins and map pockets for incidentals, as well as cupholders hidden in the pull-down section of the 40/20/40 split seat.

The rear-seat entertainment system, with TV function, had my kiddies beside themselves with excitement and pleading for us to take the long way home. There are ISOFIX points on the outer seats and top tethers for all three.

Up front, lodgings are supremely comfortable, the 375-way electronically adjustable seat making it super easy to find the perfect driving spot. You would have noted the exaggeration of course but adjustment options are numerous enough to make it feel that way.

  • The rear-seat entertainment system, with TV function, had my kiddies beside themselves with excitement. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo) The rear-seat entertainment system, with TV function, had my kiddies beside themselves with excitement. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo)
  • The smell and feel of the quilted nappa leather is just the first course of what is a veritable feast for the senses. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo) The smell and feel of the quilted nappa leather is just the first course of what is a veritable feast for the senses. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo)

There are two cupholders in front of the gear lever, a smallish console box and usable door bins. A wireless charger pad for your phone is a nice bonus but it is tucked away almost out of reach, making the actual retrieval of the phone quite a considered task.

The boot, at 520 litres, is slightly bigger, with run flat tyres now negating the need for a spare. The boot is long and large enough to carry four golf bags in case you were interested, although the opening itself is a bit on the narrow side.

The boot, at 520 litres, is slightly bigger. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo) The boot, at 520 litres, is slightly bigger. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo)

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

BMW's iDrive multimedia system, fronted by a 10.25-inch colour touchscreen with excellent graphics, continues to be a nifty unit, enhanced here by an updated, easier to use menu layout. It is operated by using the screen much like you would a personal tablet, by a rotary dial in the centre console or through voice commands.

Our test car had the added option of gesture control allowing you, for example, to control the volume with a wiggle of the finger or point to the screen to accept an incoming call. It can be fun, of course, but becomes a bit trickier if you, like me, tend to use your hands a lot during normal conversation.

BMW's iDrive multimedia system continues to be a nifty unit. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo) BMW's iDrive multimedia system continues to be a nifty unit. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo)

Bluetooth connectivity, DAB+ digital radio, Apple CarPlay, satellite navigation, auto headlights and wipers as well as keyless entry and start, 20-inch alloys and electric glass sunroof are just some of the standard features on this baby. But you still feel for $136,900 there could be a little more wow.

Our test car had a raft of extras, too, including the individual rear seat reading lights ($750), Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System ($6400), 'Indulgence Package' (soft-close doors, massage function, rear seat entertainment, TV function) for $8000 and the $1600 'Innovations Package' (display key, gesture control, remote control parking) to name just a handful.

Now, while optional packages are run-of-the-mill for luxury brands, it is a tad mean to make buyers pay for a tyre pressure indicator ($550), especially in a car with run flat tyres.

20-inch alloys come as standard. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo) 20-inch alloys come as standard. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

This 540i sports a 3.0-litre, turbocharged, in-line six cylinder petrol engine paired with a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission. Power is an affable 250kW, with grunt coming from 450Nm of torque, the peak available at a low 1320rpm.

This 540i sports a 3.0-litre, turbocharged, in-line six cylinder petrol engine. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo) This 540i sports a 3.0-litre, turbocharged, in-line six cylinder petrol engine. (Image credit: Vani Naidoo)

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Official figures for the BMW 540i are 6.7L/100km for the combined cycle, and while we occasionally came within a touch of that, our output for the week was more like 9.8L/100km.

You will need the more expensive juice, and 68 litres of it to fill the tank, too, but that may not be too steep a price to pay.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

So, 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds is certainly nothing to scoff at but this 540i sedan is positioned more as a luxurious sporty offering than a screaming speed demon. Even with the 'M Sport' package and impressive brakes. And it is comfortable with that.

This seventh-generation 5 Series is measured and controlled offering up a refined, comfortable drive whether on short drives or longer commutes. When pushed, it will reveal its sporty heart, effortlessly finding the power needed to accelerate quickly and impressively.

Dynamic damper control and adaptive drive suspension will change to suit the conditions as required to ensure a comfortable, quiet ride. It will even pair with the navigation system and cameras to work out what is needed on the road ahead and adapt accordingly.

The 540i is agile and precise, cornering with confidence and able to shuffle quickly even if you change your mind mid-stride.

That the 540i can hustle if required makes it all sweeter.

The electrically-assisted steering is smooth over bumps, with no jarring or kickback, the down side being that overall feedback tends to be muted, without that clear notice that would make this an emphatically engaging drive.

Yes, 'Sport Plus' mode will change the mood a touch, giving you a weightier steering, a more sensitive throttle and quicker transmission shifts, but no red mist to match the changing colour of the instrumentation.

But if we are looking at horses for courses, the 540i delivers on its intent. Most people, shock horror, don't want to whip their cars crazily around corners or attack straights at breakneck speed. Occasional energetic driving is enough to get the pulse racing and put a smile on the face. That the 540i can hustle if required makes it all sweeter.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

Six airbags, traction and stability control, pre-collision warning and preparation and autonomous emergency braking are just the start of the five-star safety story for the 540i.

The 'Driver Assistant Plus' package, standard on all models, features a suite of safety technologies including lane keeping assist, rear collision prevention, front and rear cross traffic warning, blind spot monitoring and side collision protection.

It also features 'Parking Assist Plus' which has front and rear parking sensors, surround-view cameras and semi-automated parking. Now, while most cars at this price point have reverse cameras and even 360 degree cameras, these are pretty flash. They are brighter, clearer and the angles are better making it easier and more efficient to use.

'Speed Limit Assist' monitors speed limits through camera recognition and relays the information to the driver via the head-up display.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Warranty is three years/unlimited kilometres with service intervals at 12 months or 20,000km.

BMW offers a basic pre-paid servicing package ($1640) for the first five years or 80,000km which includes things like spark plugs, oils and filters. The 'Service Inclusive Plus' package ($4600) over the same time period, adds brake pads and discs and window wiper blades.

Verdict

In the 540i BMW has a luxury sedan with genuine appeal. It drives beautifully, is technologically savvy, suitably equipped and delivers an all-round polished performance. BMW definitely brought it’s A-game, and buyers in this segment will now have a more difficult choice to make.

Is BMW's primo 5 Series a mid-size luxury leader? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$69,900
Based on 40 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$59,990
Highest Price
$89,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
530d Gran Turismo Luxury Line 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $71,830 – 82,610 2017 BMW 5 SERIES 2017 530d Gran Turismo Luxury Line Pricing and Specs
528i Ind Collection 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $80,960 – 93,060 2017 BMW 5 SERIES 2017 528i Ind Collection Pricing and Specs
530e iPerf (HYBRID) LUXURY LINE 2.0L, Hyb/PULP, 8 SP AUTO $77,110 – 88,660 2017 BMW 5 SERIES 2017 530e iPerf (HYBRID) LUXURY LINE Pricing and Specs
530e iPerf (HYBRID) M SPORT 2.0L, Hyb/PULP, 8 SP AUTO $74,030 – 85,140 2017 BMW 5 SERIES 2017 530e iPerf (HYBRID) M SPORT Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.6
Design7
Practicality8
Price and features7
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety9
Ownership7