It may now be five years since this generation of the 5 Series went into production at BMW’s Dingolfing factory in Germany, but the interior is showing very few regrettable signs of age or antiquation. The G30 generation conjures the same spacious, solid and grown-up impression today as it always has: that of a saloon that has carefully honed ergonomics and proper, adult-sized passenger accommodation levels, that uses digital technology in all the right places, and that exhibits apparent quality wherever you look.
Our test car had two-tone black and ivory Dakota leather, piano black veneer and satin chrome decorative trim, and it presented all of it consistently well – the car’s slightly hard, dull leathers (which can be upgraded at extra cost) being the only very minor disappointment.
The 5 Series is big by mid-sized executive class standards and particularly wide, but it delivers an expansive feel within. The cabin is configured more like a smart working environment than some avant-garde designer kitchen and features plenty of high-quality switchgear for the control of its driver modes, infotainment systems and other secondary systems, which brings with it easy usability. So there is rarely any frowning or fumbling to find the right touchscreen display menu to change the radio station or switch on the rear demister. Plenty of cabin storage is provided, too, and where digital technology is used, it is used well.
The driving position is first class: lower than many in the saloon class, but offering good visibility and excellent comfort, and sitting you in perfect orientation with the controls. Our test car’s front seats offered only moderate lateral support, but they were well pitched for the car’s role: easy to slide into and adjustable for cushion angle and length, and separately for backrest angle and shoulder support.
There is room for two adults in the back in comfort, or three at a push, and no compromise to space has been made to accommodate the car’s under-seat drive batteries. Some compromise to the powertrain is apparent in the boot: the 545e has a more raised boot floor than other 5 Series models, although it doesn’t pop up above the level of the loading lip so it’s easy to feed long items through into the cabin when the rear seats are folded. There’s still 410 litres of space back here, but the shape of the space will prevent you from carrying some bulkier items of cargo.
Infotainment and sat-nav
BMW introduced its latest Operating System 7.0 iDrive infotainment to the 5 Series two years ago and, by combining touchscreen operation with a physical rotary input device for those who prefer one, and including good voice recognition and excellent all-round navigability, it remains an excellent technical solution.
The home screen can be configured to your liking with different widget-style modular displays for any function you might want, and accessing other menus is never too arduous or distracting. It helps a lot that you needn’t engage with the screen much at all if you don’t want to. There are useful physical control consoles for the audio system and HVAC controls, and BMW offers gesture control as an option, too (although how miming turning the volume down in front of the main display could ever be easier than simply turning a volume knob remains something of a mystery to us).