I remember the first time I drove the last (E39) 5-series. It was back in 1996 and we had got an early left-hand drive one over from Munich for a comparison test.
I was absolutely mesmerised by how far it moved the big saloon game on. But more importantly just how brilliantly the engineers had achieved the black art of making a car that had a terrific ride, yet still served up exquisite handling.
Yet every recent new BMW I’ve driven just doesn’t seem to ride well at all. A few months ago I spent three hours in a new 730d and for 99 per cent of the time I was fiddling with the chassis settings hoping that one of the four of them would prevent even the smallest of road scars causing thumps to come into the cabin. I didn’t achieve it.
This week I’ve spent a lot of time in a new 5-series GT. Now this car I have got a lot of time for, but around town the ride quality wasn’t just firm, or ‘sporty’ it was just plain bad. Now, granted, this car was on optional 20-inch wheels and I’d like to try one on smaller wheels.
But I guess that a lot of people will buy their car on 20s and they deserve better than this. Jaguar and Vauxhall (Insignia VXR) can engineer cars that ride well wearing 20s, so I’m sure that BMW has the engineering talent to do the same.
You can’t even blame run flat tyres. BMW has been using them for some years now and the tyre companies are improving things all the time - so surely they aren’t the engineering challenge they once were. Fact is BMW could and should do better.
The best riding Beemer I've driven for a while has been the M5, with a chassis developed by the M-Sport division. Tells you all you need to know.