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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.