What is it?
Underneath the light disguise of the BMW prototype you see here lies the seventh-generation 5 Series saloon – a car described as being new from the ground up and, as it has been since its inception way back in 1972, one that's crucial to the company's continued drive for greater volumes, profit and success.
The production version of the new 5 Series, codenamed G30, isn’t planned to be unveiled until October. However, we’ve now driven a trio of prototypes over some challenging roads in Wales – the very same network of coarse-chip blacktop that the head of BMW’s chassis development, Jos van As, and his team have been using recently to fine-tune the handling attributes of the new executive saloon, which will come up against some stiff competition in the form of the Audi A6, Jaguar XF and Mercedes-Benz E-Class when it goes on sale in the UK early next year.
Although BMW is holding back on many of the details of the new 5 Series until closer to its launch, it has provided us with an insight into its advanced new chassis, which is not only a brand new development but also comes with a new set-up aimed at providing the car with a broader range of attributes than ever before. “At one end of the scale, we’ve succeeded in making it more responsive and increased its agility," says van As, "while at the other end, it now provides greater comfort and refinement.”
In terms of dimensions, the 5 Series has grown, if only slightly. The increases in length, width and height are incremental and mostly aimed at increasing rear seat accommodation. As before, BMW will build the new car with two distinct wheelbases, including a long-wheelbase version exclusively for the Chinese market. The simple taped disguise of the prototypes we drove hides a car with the same basic proportions of its predecessor. But while the appearance may be described as evolutionary, it adopts some more revolutionary measures in other areas of its design.