2017 BMW 5 Series: Not Exactly Your Rich Uncle’s Car

I have a theory, when it comes to German cars, if you’re a performance oriented gearhead, you don’t really want the flagship. Rides like the Mercedes-Benz S Class, the Audi A8, and the BMW 7 Series: those are for older, well established, well-healed buyers – people who want comfort and speed, rather than the other way around: speed with “enough” comfort doo-dads thrown in.

This is not to say that BMW’s 5 Series has ever been Spartan, far from it. But the 5 Series gets a ton of performance goodies in a much smaller and lighter package than the big, honking 7 Series for 2017.

Engine Materials

Most importantly, it’s what’s in the engine bay. Remember, the “M” in BMW stands for motor, and it’s in the 5 Series that the Bavarians have done some of their most wicked power plant development. Remember the first gen M5? The new 5 Series doesn’t mess around in the engine department. The 2017 5 Series features a new engine family that showcases BMW TwinPower Turbo technology.

The newly developed, modular BMW EfficientDynamics engines are lightweight, thermodynamically optimized, and consist of an all-aluminum construction. This is a tricky combination of factors to balance. You want things to be lightweight, so you go with aluminum. The problem is that aluminum is not as thermodynamically stable as heavier metals (iron, for example) but, BMW pretty much has this clocked.

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The wheelbase of 117.1 inches marks a slight increase over the previous 5 Series, while front and rear track width of 63 / 63.9 inches (+/- 0 front / -0.2 rear) are quite similar. The new double-wishbone front axle’s kinematics are configured for a long-distance, business class sedan. Extensive use of lightweight metal components keep unsprung mass low, while small kinematic lever arms minimize disturbance torque around the steering axis, creating a more responsive steering feel. The rear suspension and double-wishbone front suspension work together to provide comfort and reduce body roll around corners. Photo: BMW of North America.

Turbo Charging

BMW is jumping into turbocharging in a big way. They’ve done a lot with it in the past (the 2002 Turbo and 1.5 liter F1 engines), but now the real world is forcing the hands of auto manufacturers into further use of turbocharged engines. Essentially, there’s lots of upcoming regs concerning emissions and fuel efficiency benchmarks; that means the easy route to high performance and horsepower is done less and less with big displacement engines. It’s now about small displacement, turbocharged engines that still can create the big horsepower numbers.

BMW is tackling this hurdle with their TwinPower Turbo technology. Their gasoline engines employ twin-scroll turbocharging, mated with High Precision Injection (BMW’s term), Double-VANOS variable camshaft control, and Valvetronic fully variable valve timing.

Bottom line: high power with good efficiency.

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The 2017 BMW 5 Series features a specially designed braking system. Depending on the model, a single-piece or two-piece, four-piston fixed aluminum caliper (front) will be present. At the rear, there are lightweight discs and single-piston calipers with an integrated electromechanical parking brake. Photo: BMW of North America.

Power Distribution

All of the engines available for the 2017 5 Series can be mated with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system. BMW says xDrive “counteracts oversteer and understeer effectively and increases the car’s pulsating handling abilities when turning into corners and eagerly powering out of corners.”

Sheesh, calm down guys. It’s awesome, we get it.

Sure, it probably does all that, but what xDrive really does is fire you out of corners like a scared jackrabbit, giving you grip in the turns like your tires are made out of rubber cement. Also, if you don’t live in an area like SoCal, xDrive is a real plus during a rainy fall and snowy winter.

The Sport variant of the eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission comes standard on the new BMW 5 Series Sedans. The Steptronic features more dynamic shift characteristics along with shift paddles on the steering wheel so you can change “cogs” manually.

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For the first time, BMW xDrive can be combined with Integral Active Steering as well as the lowered M sport suspension included in the M Sport Package. Photo: BMW of North America.

Loaded Up

There’s a bunch, and I mean a lot, of tech gee-gaws slathered all over this thing. Stuff like standard LED Adaptive headlights, seats with massage function, gesture control, Intelligent Voice Control, iDrive smartphone integration, a heads up display, variable color lighting, surround sound, and, and, and . . . who cares about that, what about the 2017 M5?

Sadly, no direct mention of that at the moment.

It’ll come later (hopefully) and with a frighteningly powerful engine (hopefully), so for now we’ll have to make do with the M Sport Package.

Other features include Active Cruise Control, which adjusts to the flow of traffic and can brake to a standstill automatically if necessary, and Remote Control Parking, which is exactly what it sounds like. Using the 5 Series’ Display Key, it can be wedged into a parking spot – the vehicle just needs to be placed in front of the desired parking space first. From there, you control the movements of the 5 Series from outside the vehicle.

What will they think of next?

2017 BMW 5 Series

BMW Connected was designed to enhance a driver’s mobility and overall experience inside the cabin. With the Open Mobility Cloud as a basis, BMW Connected merges the vehicle with a driver’s digital demands and preferences. Multiple devices such as an iPhone, Apple Watch, and Android smartphone can be connected. The system is also very intelligent. For example, the addresses contained in calendar entries will transmit automatically to the vehicle. Drivers then receive a phone message notifying them of the ideal departure time, based on the latest traffic information. Photo: BMW of North America.

M Sport Style

The M Sport package includes the M Aerodynamic kit (front apron with larger air intakes, side skirt trim, a diffusor-style rear apron, and an exhaust system with two rectangular tailpipes), Shadowline exterior trim, lowered M Sport suspension, and 19-inch M Double-Spoke Wheels with Mixed Performance Run-Flat Tires or all-season Run-Flat Tires.

Yes, run flats weigh a ton, and yes, most gearheads toss them for real performance tires, but there ya go. Although, to be fair, with the combined use of magnesium, aluminum, and high-strength steel, the new 5 Series did shed 137 pounds.

Interior Craftsmanship

On the inside there’s a new M Sport leather steering wheel, a SensaTec upholstered dashboard, aluminum pedal covers, and footrest. There’s also exclusive floor mats when selecting the option of Black Dakota Leather with contrast Blue stitching and piping.

“The new BMW 5 Series will make a mature, confidently stylish, and dynamic impression at every opportunity,” said Karim Habib, Head of Design, BMW Automobiles. “The formal and precise design combines presence, aesthetic appeal, and functionality in equal measure.”

Hard to argue with that.

Your rich uncle can have the 7 Series, the 5 series waits for you.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life around racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

2017 BMW 5 Series Gallery

Photos & Source: BMW of North America

About The Author

Tony Borroz grew up in a sportscar oriented family, but sadly, it was British cars. His knuckles still show the marks of slipped Whitworth sockets, strains to reach rear upper shock bushings on Triumphs and slight burn marks from dealing with Lucas Electric "systems". He has written for a variety of car magazines and websites, Automoblog chief among them, as well as working on very popular driving games as a content expert. He has also worked for aerospace companies, software giants and as a movie stuntman. He currently lives in a secure, undisclosed location in the American southwestern desert.

2 Comments on "2017 BMW 5 Series: Not Exactly Your Rich Uncle’s Car"

  1. “The M Sport package includes the M Aerodynamic kit (front apron with larger air intakes, side skirt trim, a diffusor-style rear apron, and an exhaust system with two rectangular tailpipes), Shadowline exterior trim, lowered M Sport suspension, and 19-inch M Double-Spoke Wheels with Mixed Performance Run-Flat Tires or all-season Run-Flat Tires.” Great Technology!!!!

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