Apparently, BMW itself was aware of this, because the new car is visually slinkier, plus lighter – by up to 100kg. That decrease didn’t involve the fancy carbon-composite chassis implants that the current 7 Series employs, but instead was achieved using high-strength steel and more aluminium in the suspension and body alike.
BMW says there’s no single, defining area where the weight was shifted, just little bits here and there. The result is less un-sprung mass, better torsional rigidity, improved ride and handling, and, of course, enhanced performance and efficiency.
What's it like?
Let’s begin with its beating heart: the bi-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six diesel. Now, we know there is a potential war on diesel, but right now this EU6 compliant engine is legal tender in London, Luton, Leatherhead and any other UK city you care to mention. So, assessing it on that basis, its outputs of 261bhp and 457lb ft, coupled with an average 60.1mpg and 124g/km of CO2 look appealing against the quicker, but decidedly thirstier 540i petrol. It blows away the Mercedes E 350 d and Jaguar XF 3.0d V6 S, for that matter, too.
And this car isn’t slow. In fact, it’s so strong through nearly all of the rev-range that you get the feeling it would feel just a quick if pulling a glacier, at least until that onslaught of power and twist subsides at around 4000rpm. This, twinned with the superb eight-speed ZF auto ‘box that picks the right gear and slithers into it without you noticing, makes it an effortlessly easy car to cover ground in.
Choosing your G10 5 Series’ suspension set-up is a heck of a lot trickier than it was in 1972, when the original was launched. There’s standard passive, M Sport passive, Variable Adaptive Dampers (VDC), Adaptive Drive with active anti-roll bars and Integral Active Steering (IDC), which steers all four wheels.
Don’t panic, though, because having sampled pretty much all of them, there is an easy default: select VDC. Without it, the ride is needlessly fidgety on the motorway, but with it (and it uses the same settings regardless of whether you go for an SE or the M Sport) it transforms the ride brilliantly. Even with our M Sport’s 19in wheels and Scalextric-thin tyres, the 530d floats along like a lilo on a pool, with only the occasional thud if the tyres drop down a particularly large hole. Being so wide, they do create more road roar than the narrower tyres you get on an SE, but it’s still a sublime cruiser.