DRIVEN: New BMW 5-Series is the epitome of a great premium sedan

Published Mar 6, 2024


It really is a pity that the world is moving further and further away from sedans and opting instead for the ubiquitous SUV.

It particularly hits home when you climb into a car like the BMW 5 Series, which epitomises everything that is good about a luxury sedan and in particular BMW.

I reckon that the 5 Series is the absolute sweet spot in their entire range, combining space, design, luxury, comfort and performance in a well packaged parcel that’s hard to beat.

It was a conversation that my driving partner and I had recently while driving up the West Coast in Cape Town with the launch of the new 5 Series.

We’ll be getting one ICE version in the 520d and two electric models with the i5 40 and range-topping i5 M60.

Topping the figures, the i5 M60 produces an impressive 442kW and 795Nm (820Nm in Boost Mode) that will get you to a neck-jerking 100km/h sprint in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 230km/h using the full power of the front and rear axle mounted motors.

BMW claims a range of 455-516 kilometres and if you use the MAX RANGE function that limits power, speed and deactivates certain comfort functions that can be increased by up to 25 percent.

On the flip side though, using the Boost Mode, activated by a paddle on the steering wheel, provides an extra 10 seconds of maximum acceleration that will significantly reduce the range when you start having too much fun.

The i5 40 has a more manageable 250kW and a claimed range of 670 kilometres.

Both come with a wall box for home charging or wherever you want it installed.

The 520d, with its super-reliable 2.0-litre diesel engine providing 145kW and 400Nm and a 48-volt mild hybrid system combined with an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission, will be the go-to for buyers.

BMW claims consumption of 5.6l/100km and they’re not wrong. In fact if you drive like Miss Daisy it could be less.

The glorious 3.0-litre diesel six-cylinder will unfortunately not be coming to South Africa.

With a toned down version of the love-it-or-hate-it kidney grille with optional LED grille outline with Iconic Glow lighting the 5 Series is a sleek and handsome bugger.

The i5 M60 gets the M grille, M exterior mirrors and air-scything M alloys, making it even more striking.

As you would expect there’s nary a switch or dial with the large 12.3-inch information system taking care of most applications and a 14.9-inch digital display keeping the driver well informed.

Using the BMW Operating System 8.5 it features a redesigned home screen with vertically arranged function icons on the driver's side with "QuickSelect" that enables functions to be accessed directly without having to switch to a sub menu.

It’s the seats though that did it for me and I found them to be among the most comfortable in the business.

It’s all very well having swathes of tech and carbon fibre, but when your backside feels like it’s resting on an ironing board it takes much of the surroundings away.

It’s an all vegan interior but if you like your steak rare there’s an option for the real thing.

Engaging the hazards makes the mood lighting strips flash in red which I found slightly disconcerting.

Our first drive was in the 520d which like I said is probably the pick of the bunch.

It’s a delightful car to drive and at no point does it feel underpowered or struggling to catch its breath.

As I said the comfortable seats and pleasant surroundings make it an almost perfect touring car and with the adaptive cruise control set on the national speed limit immediate fuel consumption hovered between 5.2 and 5.4l/100km, which means you’ll get more than 1,000km on a full tank.

I’m not completely convinced yet around the hype and constant bombardment of EVs and that they’re the silver bullet to fix all the supposed ills around the vehicle manufacturing industry.

However, having said that their immediate torque and low centre of gravity make for impressive statistics and the i5 M60 has it in bucket loads.

Pull off is genuinely bonkers and even when you’re cruising and floor the accelerator it will whip your head back into the headrest and give your passenger a serious fright because it feels like you’ve been hit by another car.

When you do play around though it seriously affects your range so you’ll be looking around for a recharge in no time.

It’s still very much a comfortable cruiser but with the low slung battery it will cling to sharp corners and bends with the dignity associated with a luxury BMW sedan.

It’s fitted with Hans Zimmer sounds that get piped into the cockpit, and which sound a little ominous and weird, but it’s easily disabled on the touchscreen.

When all you feel is being pushed back into the seat and hear the slight wind noise emanating from the side mirrors, then you get to really appreciate the build quality and attention to NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels BMW have engineered into the 5.

There’s a plethora of safety features that would fill a page on its own but you know that there’s everything built in to ensure that you and your passengers are safely ensconced should things go awry.

The sedan may be dying but here’s hoping that the last rites are still a good way off.

It comes with a five-year Motorplan and a battery warranty of eight years or 160 000km.

BMW 5 Series Pricing (March 2024)

520d: R1 247 893

i5 eDrive40: 1 842 500

i5 M60 xDrive: 2 190 000