Worthwhile efficiency-driven changes to an already excellent car.

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.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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