Currently reading: BMW 5 Series update brings 523bhp M550i flagship to UK
BMW's executive class-leader is updated with revised engine options and new-look styling
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5 mins read
27 May 2020

BMW has revealed a raft of upgrades for its class-leading 5 Series to fend off the newer Audi A6 and refreshed Mercedes-Benz E-Class, including new technology, new engines and the introduction of a 523bhp M Performance variant to the UK line-up.

A hardcore CS version of the V8-powered M5 super-saloon is coming later this year, too.

The suite of updates to BMW’s executive mainstay also brings a new 389bhp 545e xDrive plug-in hybrid model into the line-up, plus UK customers will be able to order the 523bhp M550i for the first time. This variant has been on sale in mainland Europe since last year.

Launched in 2016, the seventh-generation 5 Series has continued the success of its predecessors, with more than 600,000 sales achieved worldwide to date. The facelifted model is scheduled to reach UK dealerships in both its saloon and Touring estate guises in July.

In a continuation of its electrification strategy, BMW has fitted its mild-hybrid system to all 5 Series petrol and diesel models with either a four-cylinder or six-cylinder engine. First introduced to the line-up on the 520d last year, it adds a 48V starter-generator and a second battery.

Together, they provide an 11bhp temporary boost to the engine’s power reserves as well as a number of new fuel-saving features. These include a coast function that shuts down the engine for periods of trailing throttle, improved brake-energy recuperation and the ability for the engine to be automatically switched off at speeds below 9mph.

Among the petrol models are the four-cylinder 181bhp 520i and the 248bhp 530i, as well as the six-cylinder 329bhp 540i. The 530i and 540i are available with standard rear-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive. Above them is the four wheel-drive M550i xDrive. Available in saloon form only, its turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 engine delivers 523bhp and 553lb ft torque, enabling a 0-62mph time of 4.0sec.

Three diesels are again available: the four-cylinder 188bhp 520d and two six-cylinder models, the 281bhp 530d and 335bhp 540d xDrive. The 520d and 530d come with standard rear-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive, while the 540d is available with four-wheel drive exclusively. Changes to the six-cylinder diesel engine – including the adoption of two-stage turbocharging and new common-rail piezo injectors that operate at up to 2700bar – bring gains of 20bhp and 22lb ft to the 530d and of 20bhp and 15lb ft to the 540d.

The petrol-electric plug-in hybrid 530e, which comes with standard rear-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive, has been updated with the latest evolution of BMW’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. However, it continues to deliver the same nominal combined system output of 248bhp and 310lb ft as before, with 288bhp and the same 310lb ft available for 10sec via a so-called XtraBoost function. On a full charge, it has a WLTP-certified electric-only range of up 42 miles.

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New to the family is the four wheel-drive 545e xDrive plug-in hybrid, which uses the same 248bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line-six-cylinder petrol engine and 107bhp electric motor as the larger 745e. Together, these provide a system output of 389bhp and 442lb ft, giving the 545e a 0-62mph time of 4.7sec and a governed 155mph top speed. The plug-in hybrid’s combined WLTP fuel economy is between 117.7mpg and 134.5mpg, with CO2 emissions of 49-54g/km. With a lithium ion battery mounted within the floor of the boot, the 545e achieves an electric-only range of up to 35 miles at speeds of up to 87mph, according to BMW.

As before, all drivetrains are mated to a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox, with no manual option offered.

Although the new M550i will head the range for now, a reworked M5 will be unveiled later this year. It’s set to sire a new M5 CS model with revised aerodynamics, including a rear wing similar to that seen on the M2 CS, M3 CS and M4 CS, plus lightweight carbonfibre-reinforced plastic components. Nothing is confirmed just yet but the future range-topping M5 model is rumoured to feature a newly developed V8 engine with even more firepower than the 616bhp twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 used by today’s M5 Competition.

Exterior changes for the 5 Series are concentrated on the front grille, which is now wider and positioned lower than before. It also receives a new single-frame design, with a central element in chrome, and sits within a reprofiled front bumper.

Styling tweaks have been applied to the headlights as well. They receive new graphics, with L-shaped daytime running lights and indicators located at the outer edges. LED headlights are once again standard, although there’s now a greater number of options, including BMW’s super-bright Laserlight high-beam option. There are also more heavily structured tail-lights similar in design to those that grace the latest 3 Series, as well as a redesigned rear bumper. Regardless of the model, all 5 Series are now fitted with trapezoidal tailpipes.

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Buyers can now choose between two non-metallic and eight metallic colours. These include new Phytonic Blue metallic and Bernina Grey amber-effect metallic as part of the standard colour range and new Aventurine Red metallic and Tanzanite Blue metallic within the BMW Individual range. The upgraded brake calipers that are part of the M Sport styling package can also now be specified in red as well as the previous blue.

From the start of sales for the new 5 Series, BMW is offering an M Sport Edition model in Donington Grey, a colour previously available for the M5 only, or Tanzanite Blue, which can otherwise be ordered only via BMW Individual. Limited to 1000 examples, the model also has 20in alloy wheels and a raft of typical M Sport touches.

BMW says the adoption of new bumpers has increased the length of the saloon by 27mm and the Touring by 21mm so that both now measure 4963mm. Refinements to the aerodynamics – most notably with underbody cladding and an active air flap control system for the radiator – net the saloon a drag coefficient that is described as class-leading, at 0.23Cd, while the Touring is put at 0.26Cd.

Inside, the 5 Series has the latest seventh-generation version of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system along with either a standard 10.3in or optional 12.3in central display. Entry-level SE cars get more kit than before, while M Sport estates receive black roof rails. Further interior tweaks are focused on the dashboard, which gains a new lower climate display alongside revised materials and gloss black centre console details.

There are also new electric M multi-function seats, previously reserved for the M5, with integral head restraints and added side support as part of an optional M Sport package.

The new 5 Series is available to order UK now, with prices for the saloon starting at £37,480 for the 520i SE. The estate commands an extra £2250. M Sport trim adds £3500 across the range, while M Sport Edition models are priced from £45,480.

The newly added 545e xDrive, which will enter production in November, is priced from £54,945 in SE trim. The flagship M550i xDrive costs £67,595 – around £30,000 less than the current M5 Competition.

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Citytiger 28 May 2020

Perhaps

the badges were an after thought, look at the green picture, and the placement of the "M" badge on the front wing, and then look at the blue one, they have had to move the "M" badge to make room for the plug flap, what a fantastic bit of design continuity, well done BMW. Its little details like that, that prove there is a problem at BMW design HQ. 

Aerial 27 May 2020

Not completely...

...hideous by BMW standards of late. I could be tempted out of my E39 by this. At least the Pig for Angry Birds grille is a little less oink, oink

Just Saying 27 May 2020

Just checked Ford site

Just checked Ford site
2.3 Eco boost £38,035
V8 £41,430 O. T. R.
TheDriver 27 May 2020

Yes Just Saying, I get your

Yes Just Saying, I get your point. The fact is that the 'premium' brands have long charged considerable sums for a wide range of extra features that are often standard with the mainstream manufacturers. They get away with it, but of course I'd much rather they didn't do it. US makers, on the other hand, have long offered great value in terms of 'bang for your buck'. US V8s are generally reliable, cheap to maintain and repair, and don't cost the earth to buy. Compare the cost of a replacement US V8 crate engine with an equivalent from the European manufacturers!

Two points I think are worth making in respect of the 550i. Detailed specs, when available, will probably show it includes a number of standard features that are extras on models further down the range. This is certainly the case, for example, when comparing an Audi S6 or RS6 with lesser models in the range. The other big factor will likely be very substantial discounting once it's been on sale a while. On the Broadspeed website, for example, a new BMW 750i is currently showing discounts of about £25k. I wonder what figures we'll see for the 550i? It will no doubt suffer big depreciation, but at least it suggests customers won't actually pay an initial price anywhere near BMWs list price.

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