What is it?
A mildly facelifted new BMW 5-series (fresh from a record sales year), with redesigned lights and bumpers. Inside, there are new door panels, a re-jigged centre console layout and some upgraded materials.
Detail changes are more significant. Petrol engines get latest-generation direct-injection for greater efficiency.
What's it like?
The 530i petrol we tried is better than ever. It’s brilliantly smooth and 14bhp more powerful (at 268bhp), so it knocks 0.2sec off the manual’s 0-62mph time, now 6.3sec.
But the most noticeable change is to the auto gearbox, which has adopted BMW’s latest, trigger-like selector. It’s easy enough to control but lacks the old shift’s more pleasing solid feel because it’s a fly-by-wire system. There’s no hydraulic linkage; gear changes are now made (more quickly) by electric motor (so there are paddles on the wheel, too).
Other efficiency improvements include cooling flaps closed when not needed, a cooling pump that doesn’t operate at full whack all the time and an alternator that does the same; brake-energy regeneration now charges the battery.
The power steering system’s new high-viscosity fluid gives the only chassis change; it’s less sticky, and a touch lighter.
Otherwise the 5-series drives the same as before: better than anything else in the class, with the odd hiccup in ride quality. Only now a 530i will cover 4.6 miles more per gallon, and emits 20g less CO2 per kilometre while it’s doing it.
So should I buy one?
Now more than ever the 5-series makes a case for itself as the default executive car of choice.