The 2011 BMW 5 Series – 530d Review

By Jonathan Spira on 22 May 2010
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BMW has been making the 5er Series sedan since 1972, when the line replaced the BMW Neue Klasse (New Class) which included the 2500, 2800,  and Bavaria.  The 5er was the first BMW to carry the new BMW model designation, used still today, an idea conceived by BMW marketing chief Bob Lutz and later adopted by Audi and Mercedes-Benz.  The 5er’s designation came about because it was the fifth of the New Series of models that followed the V-8 and the Isetta.  (For individual models within the range, the first digit represents the model and the second and third digits approximate the engine’s displacement in deciliters.)

The basic 5er Series configuration hasn’t changed since 1972: front engine, rear-wheel drive, 50-50 weight balance, good mixture of ride comfort and handling, and room for four adults with luggage.  Since its launch, more than 5.5 million of the 5er Series have been sold.

The 5er Series is the epitome of the big German sedan and 50% of BMW’s profits come from this model.

So the introduction of a new 5er Reihe (5er Series) is critical for the company.  At the company’s 2010 annual meeting a few days ago, Norbert Reithofer, BMW’s Vorstandvorsitzender (CEO), announced that BMW has “received considerably more orders than planned” for the 5er Series, adding that the 5er Series “will be a key driver of sales, image and profit for the BMW Group.”

The sixth generation 5er Series loses the unusual styling of its polarizing predecessor and pays homage in many respects to the 5er Series models that preceded it.

While it would be overly simplistic to say that BMW has returned to the one sausage/three lengths principle, the new 5er looks more like a part of the BMW family BMW (and quite similar to the new 7er Series) than its predecessor ever did.

In Europe, buyers get a choice of four petrol and three diesel models.  The U.S. market currently gets two petrol models, the 535i and the 550i but more models, including a diesel, are on the way.

To get to know the new 5er better, I spent a week with the 530d.  I started in Munich, drove 366 kilometers to Prague, and took several drives in the Czech countryside,  including a 360-kilometer roundtrip from Prague to Třebíč (Trebitsch) , and the return trip back to Munich.

The car is aggressively elegant.  To quote BMW chief designer Adrian von Hooydonk, “The 5-series is designed to express autobahn speed even when standing still.” The multiple contours on the sculpted hood and sides add a layer of depth not present in earlier models.  People who walked over to look at the car puzzled over the hood, trying to discern if it were indeed concave or convex (it’s both).

The interior mirrors the layout of the new 7er, with richer materials and softer, supple leather.  The wood trim looks more like wood (even though BMW doesn’t use imitation wood) and the Comfort Seats are even more comfortable than before.  Click here to continue to page 2.

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