It's been 50 years since the most drift worthy, lady-boy repelling, rear passenger thrilling and spine tingling enthusiasts friendly sedan came into existence, the BMW 5 series.
The one pictured above is the 1972 E12 5 series which was essentially powered by a four-cylinder engine in the starting production units and moved to six-cylinder engined cars later on in 1973.
50 years later, the true essence of a luxuriously comfortable sporty sedan lives on! The 5-series in its G30 guise, although introduced in India in the year 2018, has gone under the knife for a mild facelift to look more Kanye West than Travis Scott. It is sharper, does sensible things and can easily attract a multi-crore deal, even if you're standing beside it in a pair of happy socks and basketball shorts. People do take you seriously when you choose to drive a BMW 5-series, it says many good things about you.
What's New on the outside?
BMW made very subtle changes to the way the 5 series now looks, and I give massive thanks to the almighty designer of the 5-series for not adding front grills the size of Atal Tunnel. BMW's obsession with big gaping grills did not touch the flag-bearer for Bimmer culture across the globe, Rejoice! With that insight, the front design looks absolutely gorgeous, the slim head-lamp design and L-shaped daytime running lamps really make the 5-series look aggressive. What adds to the aggression in the front are the massive (also functional) air dams in the bumper (specific to the M-Sport version) which allow a significant amount of airflow to keep the tyre and brake temperatures cool besides channelling air into the front radiators.
The rear end also looks very beautiful indeed. It can make a true blue car enthusiast feel silly in his underpants. What an astonishing looking car indeed! The rear tail-lamps now get the LCI's smoked effect and have a much more prominent 3D effect that does make the onlooker admire it even when it is standing still. Dual exhaust pipes on the rear bumper have a sporty trapezoidal design and they are REAL EXHAUSTS, which are actually functional, unlike some other german cars which discount the premiums with FAKE EXHAUSTS!!!
The side profile remains unchanged with a subtle sharpness coming from the new alloy wheel design specific to the M-Sport and this Carbon Black shade which has a tinge of blue in the paintwork when seen under direct sunlight. The 5 series is one of the best-looking sedans in the market right now, period. The sharp character lines all across the body and the quintessential finesse of Bavaria's finest design really makes a statement in motion or when the car is standing still.
On the Inside.
The steering wheel is classic round in shape, the dashboard looks clean and it has proper physical buttons for essential functions. It is a cabin to fall in love with, the ergonomics of every element in this space is top drawer. The new addition is the larger 12.3-inch infotainment touch-screen which gets BMW's latest update on iDrive, a wireless Apple-CarPlay and AndroidAuto system and most importantly a much-improved voice command system which does understand Indian Accents on prompt, something that we saw as an addition to the latest BMW X4 M-Sport that we had in TheRaceMonkey Garage recently.
The interior designers at BMW are blessed by the sensible fairy. In the world of touch screens and touchpads, BMW's decision to keep the driving experience properly enthusiasts friendly with physical knobs, proper large-sized buttons and levers is a god sent. I love how tactile the buttons feel, the subtle click sound from the knobs and the haptic feedback on touchpads that control the air-conditioning and radio.
The central tunnel hosts the iDrive control switches and the knob which does look a little old school, unlike what we get on the current generation 3 series which is quite surprising because the 5 series is a step up from the 3. Moving on from that, every button and control feels top grade again and there are zero compromises on the experience in controlling all the different functions on the iDrive screen and drive controls.
What ups the game in the overall experience inside the cabin, especially if you're the one taking your loved ones / work-from-home enthusiast girlfriend/boyfriend on a surprise trip far away from home is the Harman Kardon Surround Sound system. It is indeed one of the best audio units in the business today and sounds very very crisp indeed. I am a massive Ludovico Einaudi fan (Instrumental Piano artist for the ones living under the rock) and the only sound system that has ever given me proper chills is the Bowers and Wilkins in the Volvo cars, but the Acoustic settings done in this version of Harman Kardon Surround sound system is very close to the former's experience.
What is it like to drive?
The 50 years of building one of the greatest cars in the world have come a long way, there is a reason why people love the BMW 5 series moniker entering their life. In today's time, the M5 is the epitome of very fast and luxurious motoring for the family. People love the M5s for their Barak Obama-ness, it is strong and practical. Also, even if you go mad behind the wheel, it knows its shit and will make you have the most amount of fun without killing yourself.
A similar character has been incremated into the lesser 5 series saloon cars. This 530i M-Sport is fitted with a 1998 cc 4 cylinder twin-scroll turbo charged petrol engine that produces 252 bhp of max power at a peak of 6500 rpm and 350 Nm of torque which ranges from 1450 to 4800 rpm. The M-Sport package also has the chassis control system, M-brakes setup with calibration and adjustable dampers very closely set up to the M5. But the mix of sophisticated luxury, sensible thermodynamic efficiency and the ability to change itself from a Tae-Kwan-Do student to a full Floyd Mayweather are incredible. I really like the way the 5 series makes me feel, as a car enthusiast, this is the car I want to spend long hours in. I want to take it to places, explore the unseen, meet new people and learn their stories with this!
If you grew up admiring the BMW brand, the 5 series is the pinnacle of that Bavarian experience. The steering is bl**dy communicative! You feel every movement that goes below the tyres and it really truly makes driving through the winding roads a likeable exercise. The way the seats hug my body, it reminds me of some top of the line performance cars in the market. The adjustable bolstering is thick and does keep you still irrespective of your body size and mass. What is also thick is the steering wheel, the chunkiness and the round shape of it is a much better execution as far as ergonomics are concerned.
There are metallic paddle shifters that do feel substantial and are placed at a position behind the steering where it is effortless for my rather smaller fingers to reach. What aids the steering is the suspension setup, and oh boy! what a proper dynamic upgrade this is over the regular 5-series' unit. In sports mode, it stiffens up generously to provide a proper control in roll and pitch which happens when you hit the corners hard, which in turn helps the weight distribution to stay put during the 'going to the top to see the sunrise' exercise.
This is a Fast Petrol Luxury Sedan, What's the Fuel Economy like?
Well well, this is a question that has triggered quite a lot of arguments throughout the car enthusiasts community! Why would you ask for the fuel economy for a car that costs about someone's house, anyone who can afford the 5 series, can afford the fuel bills too! But what if? This is also a factor that has surprised me to the max about the 530i M-Sport.
With 95 Octane fuel used all the time, it returned an overall fuel economy of 17.8 kmpl ! And in our hypermiling test in a controlled environment for the first 14 km, the overall fuel economy showed up to be 27 km/L !!!
But as we received some traffic on the road, a few potholes and a bunch of confused cows crossing the road, the fuel economy dropped to about 23.5 km/L which is substantial still, considering this car has 252 bhp on tap and no hybrid powertrain trickery involved whatsoever! What also helps in getting the maximum fuel economy on the go is the Navigation-Assisted Gear shifting and Fuel Management, which further enhances the lower consumption of fuel based on the gradient of road, traffic situation and weather.
Things I really missed..
It isn't all rainbows and butterflies, it is compromises too that are coming along in the new G30 LCI 530i M-Sport. This being top of the line variant misses out on some key comfort and convenience features which would have upped the luxury game that it is trying to play in this price band, of which one is the seat heating and ventilation. I am a boy of the north and we have biting cold weather during the winters and very hot summers on the same piece of land, the seat heating and ventilation should be made as an essential addition to the car over even the sunroof. While we are talking seats and the 5 series being a comfortable long distance cruiser, I would have liked the addition of seat massagers atleast in this top of the line M-Sport trim.
Another sore point in this M-Sport trim is that it is available only in 3 paint shades, which is something I am unable to digest. We should be spoilt with options up here in the price range no? No options on Alloy wheel designs too for the M-Sport, the just the standard 10 spoke 18" M-Sport Rims.
Fundamentally, no car can compare to the experience one gets with the BMW 5 series, and with the new generation facelift of the G30 it has only gotten better.
The first time I laid eyes on the 530i M-Sport I was in love with it, and in love still to be honest. The experience behind the wheel, being snug fit inside the seat is incomparable. The song that the mechanicals and electronics sing together to form a magnificent symphony on the road is something to write home about. At ₹ 63.9 lakh (ex-showroom) it indeed looks like a proper step up from the 3 series, but if you want a more luxurious experience without compromising on the dynamics or fuel economy with a Petrol engine attached, look no further! Also, you don't buy a 5-series with ahead, you buy it with your heart because it really truly does ignite the true passion in a driving enthusiast