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A facelift for the five

03.10.2013

If ever there was car that didn’t need a lifecycle impulse (fancy euphemism for facelift), it’s the BMW 5 Series. It’s a car that does so many things so well that BMW could have continued selling it for another three years without changing as much as the colour of the stitches on the leather seats.

A recent spate of new model introductions and upgrades to existing competitors has changed the playing field a bit. These newer competitors have thrown down the gauntlet and not responding to the challenge is, simply put, very un-German. As a testament to how good the pre-facelift model really was, not much has changed on the new car. The front apron has been modified a bit and Xenon headlamps are now standard across the range.

The 5 Series is now available in two design packages, namely Luxury Line and Modern Line. Each package contains exclusive design and equipment features tailored to the specific needs of the customer. An M Sport package for the sportier folks out there is also available.

On the inside there are a few new details, but the cabin is still pretty much the same as before. There are new upholstery colours and trim elements available, but overall it’s still the same classy and comfortable environment 5 Series drivers know and love.

The same is true for the facelifted 5 Gran Turismo. The exterior upgrades have made it less of a Quasimodo and boot space is up by another 60 litres. This gives the 5 GT a boot capacity of 500 litres with the rear seats up and 1 700 litres when folded flat. Comfort Access - a system that allows you to open the tailgate by moving your foot under the car - is now standard on both sedan and GT models.

The best new feature on the luxury front is the broadening of ConnectedDrive’s functionality. From July 2014, BMW owners will be able to experience the full abilities of this connectivity feature. The facilities ConnectedDrive offers is quite wide and it will likely change the way we look at luxury motoring.

Take the Concierge Service as a prime example. No longer will you drive around looking for a hotel after a long day of meetings and such. The concierge will book a hotel for you and give you all the necessary information regarding the area you find yourself in. The extensive ConnectedDrive feature also includes navigation with real-time traffic information and access to web radio if you don’t fancy any of the Mzansi stations.

Then we get to the jewel in the 5 Series’ crown: the way it drives. The suspension has been tweaked to offer an even better compromise between comfort and dynamics. Air suspension is standard fitment across the GT range, giving it a predominantly comfort-biased setup.

The available powertrains are as diverse as ever. Customers can choose between four petrol and three diesel engines ranging from 135kW to 330kW.

On the diesel side, the range kicks off with the 520d with a claimed consumption figure of 4.5 litres/100km. It’s followed by the 530d with 190kW on tap and the 535d with 230kW on tap. The Gran Turismo is only available in 520d and 530d guises. Power and torque on the 550i petrol turbocharged V8 is up to 330kW and 600Nm respectively, which is enough to power it to 100km/h in 4.6 seconds. Fuel consumption on this model has decreased somewhat, with BMW claiming a combined consumption of 8.8 litres/100km.

The V8 is joined by the multi-award-winning straight six in the 535i with 225kW on tap, turbocharged four-cylinder 328i with 180kW and the base 520i producing 135kW.

 All the sedan and Gran Turismo variants are fitted with eight-speed automatic transmissions as standard. This gearbox now comes with a coasting function and can also be ordered with shift paddles on the steering wheel.

To date, around 6.6 million 5 Series units have been sold over six generations. The pre-facelift 5 Series has already found more than a million homes across the globe, with 7 000 of them being in South Africa. With those statistics in mind, it’s clear to see that the 5 Series is the default luxury car of choice for Planet Earth.

After driving the new 5 Series, I see absolutely no reason why this trend won’t continue.

Pricing for the facelifted 5 Series starts at R527 500 for the standard 520i, all the way up to R968 500 for the 550i with the M Sport package.

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03.10.2013
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