BMW 5-Series (G30)


Debut: 2016
Maker: BMW
Predecessor: 5-Series F10



 Published on 5 Jan 2017
All rights reserved. 

BMW has very high expectation for G30, so high that it is adding a third production site in Austria...


The 5-Series has always been an important member of BMW, contributing a substantial part of sales and profit to the group. The last generation, F10 5-Series was the most successful of its breed, registering 2.2 million units of sales during its 7-years lifespan, up from 1.4 million units of E60, 1.47 million units of E39, 1.3 million units of E34, 722,000 units of E28 and 700,000 units of the original E12. As a result, BMW has very high expectation for the new G30 model, so high that apart from the main assembly plant at Dingolfing, Germany, and the Chinese plant at Shenyang (which produces only LWB version), it is going to add a third production site at Graz, Austria, in the contract manufacturing plant of Magna Steyr. Why is it so confident? Hopefully we can find out from this review.

If you examine its exterior design, you might not get a straightforward answer. The G30 takes an evolutionary styling approach, unlike the leap taken by E39 or E60. Much of its genes are shared with the latest 7-Series, especially the front end with a wider version of double kidney grille. Its new nose gives it a more distinctive character than the slightly bland nose of the outgoing car. The rest of the car, however, is barely polished, getting slightly sleeker to achieve lower aerodynamic drag. The sleekest model is claimed to have a drag coefficient of 0.22, which should be a new record (both Mercedes E-class and Audi A4 are good for 0.23). This must thanks to the use of active shutter grille, underbody sealing and careful management of turbulence around wheel arches.


The sleekest model is claimed to have a drag coefficient of 0.22, a new record.


Size-wise, the new car is also a small evolution from the outgoing car. It is just 36mm longer, 6mm wider, 2mm taller and 7mm longer in wheelbase. As before, the chassis is a mix of high-strength steel and aluminum. Most of the load-bearing structure is made of high- and ultra-high-strength steel, but the latter is used more extensively, especially at the roof rails and front cross member. As before, the front strut towers are constructed out of aluminum, but now the longitudinal frames underneath them are also made of aluminum, as are the rear side members. Meanwhile, the dashboard cross support is made of magnesium. Although the car is derived from the same platform as the 7-Series, it skips the latter’s carbon-fiber structural parts due to cost concern. Outside, the bonnet, roof, boot lid and all four doors are made of aluminum. Overall, the percentage of lightweight materials has been increased considerably such that the whole car is lighter. A comparison with our old data will find the new 5-Series models undercut their corresponding old models by between 55 and 105 kg. Meanwhile, horizontal comparison will find the BMW is also lighter than its arch-rival Mercedes E-class and even the all-aluminum Jaguar XF! Sometimes subtle revisions may result in considerable progress.

At the suspension, the double-wishbone front axle is carried over, but the rear axle is changed from the compact integral multi-link to a true 5-link design similar to the 7-Series', which should allow finer tuning. Besides, both suspensions use more aluminum content to cut weight while adding rigidity. Overall, unsprung weight is reduced by a further 9 kg. As before, adaptive dampers and active anti-roll bars are available, but it refuses to follow Mercedes and Audi to adopt air suspension. You can opt for xDrive 4WD system, which is now available to nearly all engines no matter in left or right hand drive forms, or active rear-wheel steering, which improves agility.


The new 5er undercuts its predecessor by 55 to 105 kg. It is lighter than even the all-aluminum Jaguar XF!


The range of engines are not exactly new because most of them have been used in the 3 and 7-Series. They consist of the modular family B48 2-liter 4-cylinder, B58 3-liter 6-cylinder, B57 2-liter 4-cylinder diesel and B57 3-liter 6-cylinder diesel, in addition to N63 4.4-liter V8. All petrol engines feature direct injection, double Vanos, Valvetronic and twin-scroll turbo. The diesel engines employ 2500-bar common-rail injection and VTG turbocharger. 6-speed manual is still available to smaller engines, but most cars should employ the carried-over 8-speed ZF automatic, which is still the very best in the industry.

We always love the gasoline straight-six turbo for its smoothness, free-revving manner and good power and torque. In the new 540i, its output is increased to 340hp, taking 0-60 mph acceleration to less than 5 seconds, or even 4.6 seconds with the traction advantage of xDrive! That was the performance level of M5 a couple of generations ago! The new M550i xDrive with its 462hp V8 is even more astonishing, taking only 3.9 seconds to finish the same sprint. Do we really need an M5? Yes, we do, but before it arrives in a couple of years’ time, we should have not much regret.

However, the best thing about BMW is that all its engines are good or excellent, no matter the entry-level 520d or four-cylinder 530i, or the plug-in hybrid 530e, or the mass-selling 530d six-cylinder diesel. They provide good performance, refinement, fuel economy and emission without resorting to tricks (unlike Audi). No one else in the industry has a better powertrain lineup.


New interior looks remarkably close to that of the 7-Series. The quality and craftsmanship are finally on a par with Mercedes and Audi...


While it keeps the advantage in powertrains, it has greatly closed the gap from rivals in interior design and finishing. Now the interior looks remarkably close to that of the 7-Series, which is a good news because it looks upmarket, expensive and high-tech. While the dashboard design doesn’t break new ground, it is reshaped to be sleeker and its center console more oriented towards the driver. The quality of materials and craftsmanship are finally a match to Mercedes and Audi, which is currently the benchmark of the class. Moreover, the BMW has plenty of electronic gadgets to play with. The updated i-Drive system offers a larger (10.25-inch) free-standing display, and it is finally a touchscreen to please those not akin to the rotary control knob on transmission tunnel. Alternatively, it can recognize gesture or voice commands. The new TFT instrument panel is clearer to read and its theme will change according to driving modes. Benefited by the 7-Series, the 5er gets countless of semi-autonomous driving aids, such as adaptive cruise control with automatic lane change capability working up to 112 mph.

The cabin offers more space, too. Rear legroom is improved by 30mm, while rear headroom is also more generous. As the outgoing car was still roomy enough to match Mercedes E-class and Audi A6, the new car is even more competitive. Seating comfort is also improved by new seats. The front seats are more supportive for better comfort in long drives. The rear bench seat is reshaped to better serve the middle passenger. At the back, the boot is enlarged slightly to 530 liters.


Benefited by 4-wheel steering, it is unusually agile for a car of this size...


However, the key question is still how it behaves on the road. The outgoing F10 was dynamically accomplished, but its steering disappointed and its ride not the best sorted. It was neither as comfortable as Mercedes E-class nor as engaging to drive as Jaguar XF or Cadillac CTS. Thankfully, the G30 is much better sorted. Take 540i for example, its powertrain is close to perfection. Power delivery is creamy smooth yet responsive and elastic. The ZF transmission shifts seamlessly yet quickly. The car is so quick that you can’t believe it possess only 340 horsepower – it seems that BMW’s 340 hp is more than Jaguar’s 380 hp.

Dial to Sport mode and the 540i gets more serious. Its steering loads up, and its gear ratio is direct enough to give you reassuring confidence. It is also a tad more communicative than the helm of F10, even though it will never return to the level of E39. Slip into the first corner, the 540i displays unusual agility for a car of this size. The active rear-wheel steering plays an important role to sharpen its handling, but even without it the new 5-Series is still more agile than the old car, thanks to the new rear suspension and the stiffer chassis. It feels light and very well balanced. The stiffened dampers provide tight body control, and the tires afford generous grip. Is it sharper to steer or better controlled than Jaguar XF? Probably not, but the gap has largely narrowed.


M550i xDrive takes only 3.9 seconds to do 0-60 mph. Do we really need an M5?


More surprising is how well it matches Mercedes E-class for comfort and refinement in more relaxed driving modes. Apart from the smooth and quiet straight-six, the suspension is also much better isolated from road shocks and noise than the old car, which is quite an achievement considering the lack of air springs. No matter high-speed bumps, ripples, expansion joints or low-speed potholes, the new chassis deals with much greater authority. In fact, it soaks up sharp bumps more effortlessly than the air-sprung Mercedes. Wind noise is remarkably low, too.

For pure driving, I suppose the Jaguar XF might still hold a slight edge, but the BMW has unquestionably better powertrains and performance, not to mention its far more convincing accommodation, comfort, build quality and tech toys, overwhelming enough to guarantee a higher ranking. What about the Mercedes E-class? It is handsome outside and impeccable inside, but now the BMW has matched or even surpassed it in running refinement, while handling and driver engagement is on another level. This means, the 5-Series is once again the car to beat in the class. Its next challenger will come from Audi, but I suspect it won’t have much problem to keep its title for many more years.

Verdict: 
 Published on 21 Dec 2017
All rights reserved. 
M5 (F90)


4WD must be the hardest question to the M division since its abandoning of naturally aspirated engines, but it has got the right answer.


Since its birth in 1984, BMW M5 has been known as the benchmark of sports saloons. For many years it consistently topped the crowd, but in the past 4 years we reckoned Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4matic was the better car. In comparison, the outgoing M5 was a bit tamed – too quiet, too slow and even not too entertaining in handling. Most worrying, AMG showed that 4WD could be lightning quick yet fun to drive. The new generation E63 S 4matic+ has lifted the bar higher still with a 4WD system that can be switched to RWD mode for rubber-burning power slide. BMW is facing the decisive question: to follow the 4WD trend or not? If yes, will it damage the traditional character of M cars and disappoint its fans? If not, will it fall behind AMG even further? This must be the hardest question to the M division since its abandoning of naturally aspirated engines. Eventually, it decided to take the challenge and move forward.

Strangely, the new M5 is referred F90 instead of the G30 codename of the mass production 5-Series. This might imply more modifications than ever, but in fact a comparison with the regular M550i will find the M5 remarkably close in specifications, such as a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, an ZF 8-speed automatic (no more SMG dual-clutch!) and even a 4WD system branded xDrive. The exterior differs little as well – the front intakes are slightly larger, the exhaust becomes quad-pipes, and each front fender sports a hot-air outlet. That’s all. There are not even wider wheel arches, because the 5-Series body is already wide enough to accommodate its 275- and 285-section front and rear tires. In the end, you are more likely to spot the M5 by its gold brake calipers with M-logo. Such is the understated manner of the car. It must be a good candidate for stealth police cars.

Compared with the old M5, it doesn’t look too big a progress either. The V8’s codename is S63B44T4, seemingly just a minor update from the last S63B44Tu. It keeps the then-innovative hot-Vee architecture with cross-bank turbocharging. Modifications are limited to higher fuel injection pressure, improved cooling and lubrication system, revised intake and exhaust, electronic waste gates and larger turbochargers that raises boost pressure from 1.5 to 1.7 bar, which is remarkably high for a production engine. Disappointingly then, maximum output is improved by only 40 hp to 600 hp, which is no more than the last M5 fitted with Competition pack. It still trails arch-rival E63 S by 12 ponies – a small but mind-blowing difference. Torque is better, lifting from 501 to 553 lbft, and it is available from 1800-5600 rpm. Mercedes-AMG makes 74 lbft more torque still, but its torque band (2500-4500 rpm) is neither as wide nor starts as low, primarily because it lacks the cross-bank turbocharging technology but also due to its smaller capacity.



Cross-bank turbocharging and larger capacity give the M-power V8 a healthier torque spread than AMG's V8, even though it loses in peak figures.


The power advantage over the last M5 might be slim, but the new car has its 0-60 mph sprint shortened by almost a second to 3.3 seconds, leveling with the AMG! Unsurprisingly, this improvement is mainly down to the addition of front-wheel traction. It is also a proof that the latest torque converter automatic gearbox loses nothing in performance to an average DCT. As before, the standard M5 is regulated at 155 mph, but everyone will opt for the driver’s pack that lifts the restriction to 190 mph, just enough to beat its Affalterbach rival.

However, by far the most important is the 4WD system called M xDrive. Unlike the regular xDrive, it uses a multiplate clutch to engage the front axle on demand. This means, in regular driving (without tire slip), the M5 is predominantly rear-drive. When you accelerate too hard, or the surface gets slippery, or you rush into corner, the system will send some torque to the front axle to enhance traction and stabilize the car. How much or how eager it does so depends on which mode you select. The system offers 3 modes: 4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD. 4WD Sport is more rear-biased than 4WD, while 2WD is purely rear-drive, of course. And then the torque bias is also influenced by the stability control setting, which has another 3 choices – normal, M Dynamic and OFF. Coupling to 3 steering weightings, 3 transmission speeds, 3 engine mappings and 3 suspension modes, you have many many combinations to choose from. Fortunately, the M5 offers you 2 shortcut buttons, labeled M1 and M2, on the steering wheel to save 2 of your favourite combinations.

Instead of software things, I am more interested in the mechanical side. Surprisingly, unlike the high-performance Audi or Porsche or even AMG, the M5 is actually purer than its lesser siblings. While the M550i can be equipped with active rear-wheel steering and active anti-roll bars, the M5 has none of them, just adaptive dampers and well-tuned suspensions. It might be right that 4WS could improve agility, but the M5 already has a variable 4WD system and active M differential for torque vectoring between the rear wheels, so 4WS is not a must. Moreover, keeping it simple benefits weight. Even with the additional 4WD hardware, the new car manages to cut 15 kg from the old car. You might say 1855 kg DIN is by no means light, but look elsewhere and you will find everybody else are heavier – 1875 kg for E63 S, 1950 kg for RS6 Performance or 1872 kg for the rear-drive Cadillac CTS-V. This must thanks to the lighter construction of the new 5-Series donor. Its front fenders are made of aluminum (as are the bonnet, boot lid and doors, like the regular 5er), while the roof is changed to carbon-fiber for the first time. A lighter lithium battery is used and it is placed at the boot for improved weight distribution. In the chassis, there are some additional reinforcement bracings at the engine compartment and rear subframe.


The chassis of M5 is actually purer than its lesser siblings, without 4WS or active anti-roll bars.


Most super sedans wear significantly wider footwear at the rear than the front. Unusually, the new M5's rear rubbers are just 10mm wider. This is encouraging, because the enhanced front-end grip in relation to the rear should translate to a more neutral handling. We shall see soon...

On the Road

Enter the roomy cabin, drop into the comfortable bucket seats and start the motor, you don’t take long to realize the difference between the M5 and AMG E63: it is calmer and more refined. At town speed or normal cruising, the M-power V8 is just as docile as any regular BMW V8. It is quieter and its power delivery is smoother than the AMG V8. Even in anger mode, it is probably too quiet for a car possessing 600 horsepower and capable of 0-60 in 3.3 ticks. The AMG’s exhaust howl and crackles are madder, which is more satisfying to our ears, but the M5 is no slower in the real world – perhaps a tad quicker on track. Its turbo lag is subtler, power delivery is more linear and therefore easier to deal with. It works smoother with the gearbox and 4WD system. Yes, the AMG’s noise and kick feel more dramatic and special, but the BMW powertrain is actually a better companion for keen drivers, just like in the good old days when we preferred high-revving naturally aspirated engines to heavily turbocharged ones. It is a very versatile engine, quick to respond to throttle low down and eager to rev to 7000 rpm.

The change to ZF automatic transmission presents no regret. It might be very slightly slower than the best PDK in certain circumstances, but the old SMG was never the best dual-clutch box, so it sacrifices nothing. On the contrary, its smoother gearshift suits a large luxury sports saloon like this.

While the new E63 S is known for a firm ride even in its softest setting, the new M5 is far more comfortable. In Comfort mode, it is nearly as supple and quiet as the regular 5er. Wind and road noises are well suppressed, too. In fact, nothing in its class could quite match its executive car manner. Even in sportier modes the suspension is still quite absorbent and easily useable on most roads. It makes us wonder why AMG’s air suspension could bring a worse result than BMW’s steel springs and simpler adaptive dampers. Perhaps it is more about the suspension kinetic design and fine tuning.



Fast and luxury, nothing in this class bridges both worlds as well.


Turn into a corner, the variable-ratio rack is not rich of feel – just like AMG or Audi, but it is precise and places the big car accurately onto the desired line. Lacking an active anti-roll bar, it does roll a bit in the twisty, but it feels natural and harms no confidence. Even in 4WD mode, you can feel the car is driven by the rear wheels and it corners with remarkably neutral attitude. Push it harder and you can sense torque is directed forward to gain traction. Switch to 4WD Sport and you can move the tail around a bit more. The oversteer gives you another tool to adjust the line, but the stability control in M Dynamic mode will keep watching and preventing from big slide, so it is adjustable but safe. At this setting, the M5 feels agile yet confidence inspiring. It can attack narrow back roads like an M3, something unimaginable for a car so big and heavy.

Like AMG, the usage of 2WD mode is practically limited to a wide track where you can find plenty of space and no traffic. Do so and the M5 will hold the power slide as long as you wish, just like a rear-drive E39 M5. However, in the mode more relevant to road use, the BMW is more fun than AMG, because you can switch the stability control completely off in 4WD Sport, while on the AMG the electronic safety net is always turned on (except in rear-drive mode). This means, oversteer and power slide are more accessible on the M5 in real-world driving. Moreover, the M5’s control strategy seems to integrate the M xDrive, ESP and active M differential more in harmony, resulting in a smoother transition from under to oversteer. All in all, the M5’s chassis feels more agile, and more benign at the limit.

This means, although its V8 lacks aural appeal and its steering is not as communicative as we wish, the new M5 is still clearly a better driver’s car than the E63. On the other hand, if you are not in mood to attack, you will enjoy the car’s supple ride, quiet cabin and good refinement just as much as a lesser 5-Series. Such a versatile manner makes it all the more appealing to the buyers in this class, because hardcore drivers will always prefer the smaller M3 / C63 / RS4 etc. After all, those choosing a car this class – we are not talking about an E34 M5 of 30 years ago, which was 200 kg lighter and a class smaller than today’s – should expect the dual personalities of being fast and luxury. The M5 fits this expectation the best. It is not perfect, but pretty close.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
530i
2016
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4936 / 1868 / 1479 mm
2975 mm
Inline-4
1998 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
252 hp
258 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
225/55R17
1540 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.9 (c) / 6.1*
15.7*
530d
2016
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4936 / 1868 / 1479 mm
2975 mm
Inline-6, diesel
2993 cc
DOHC 24 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
265 hp
457 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
225/55R17
1640 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.4 (c)
-
540i (xDrive)
2016
Front-engined, R(4)WD, 4WS
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4936 / 1868 / 1479 mm
2975 mm
Inline-6
2998 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
340 hp
332 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
245/45YR18
1595 (1660) kg
155 mph (limited)
4.9 (c) / 4.7* (4.6 (c) / 4.5*)
11.1* (11.0*)




Performance tested by: *C&D





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
M550i xDrive
2016
Front-engined, 4WD, 4WS
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4936 / 1868 / 1479 mm
2975 mm
V8, 90-degree
4395 c.c.
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT, VVL
Twin-turbo
DI
462 hp
479 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 245/40YR19
R: 275/35YR19
1810 kg
155 mph (limited)
3.9 (c) / 3.8*
9.2*
M5
2017
Front-engined, 4WD
Steel monocoque
Aluminum + steel + carbon-fiber
4965 / 1903 / 1473 mm
2982 mm
V8, 90-degree
4395 c.c.
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT, VVL
Twin-turbo
DI
600 hp / 5600-6700 rpm
553 lbft / 1800-5600 rpm
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 275/35ZR20
R: 285/35ZR20
1855 kg
190 mph (limited)
3.3 (c) / 2.8*
6.6*




























Performance tested by: *C&D





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