Corner-hugging: the new BMW 5 Series offers adaptable cruise control, a lane-recognition system and self-parking / BMW

Magnificent, yes, and amazing fuel economy – but is even this enough to save diesel?

Diesel doesn’t get much good press these days. Cities around the world want to ban it and it’s blamed for air pollution and health problems, notably in London. The VW emissions scandal in 2015 destroyed much public faith in the claims made for its cleanliness and efficiency; and every time you see an old diesel engine car with a cloud of soot behind it you know that the filter has been removed by a driver who just can’t be bothered to replace it – the risk of prosecution is minimal. 

I’m not there to be an advocate of diesel but if I were I would be very happy to point any sceptics towards the new BMW 5 Series, and in particular the vastly impressive 530d model, as tuned by BMW’s M-Sport division.

Here is a product that is pretty much state of the automotive art; and where diesel works outstandingly well, at least as a new car proposition. For a start it is remarkably quiet, something that cannot be taken for granted in a diesel even these days.

It is the fundamental fact underpinning the refinement and smoothness of the 530d, and it manages to combine that with an extremely impressive level of performance.

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The 5 Series: near-Lamborghini acceleration with the exact same fuel consumption of a 1-litre Kia Rio (BMW)

The classic straight-six cylinder configuration for the engine is inherently better balanced than its V6 counterparts (seen in the competition). Mated to a conventional automatic gearbox and twin-turbo boost makes for fun on demand.

As with most executive cars in this class the driver can adjust the engine steering, suspension and the settings between economy, comfort, sport and variably adaptive, and all of these work well. You also, by the way, can design your own bespoke versions of each of those types of setting. The 530d basically combines near-Lamborghini acceleration with the exact same fuel consumption of a 1-litre Kia Rio. That’s why we all fell in love with diesels originally, remember?

The spec

 

Price: £47,135
Engine capacity: 3 litre diesel; 8-sp auto gearbox
Power output (bhp @ rpm): 261@4,000
Top speed (mph): 155
0-62 mph (seconds): 5.7
Fuel economy (mpg): 60.1
CO2 emissions (g/km)/Tax band: 124/24%

What else is there to like? Well the quilted and heated leather seats, for sure, and the massage they can supply on a long journey, with quite an assertive pat on the rump to keep you awake.

The entertainment system has this great feature where you can download your favourite CDs on to the car’s computer, and create a mobile music library – quite a bonus for those of us with huge quantities of “legacy” music and a poor understanding of modern digital media.

The exterior styling is also now fully post-Bangle. The eye-catching but controversial lines applied by then designer Chris Bangle have been evolved out of BMW’s look, which is a bit of shame because there’s a danger that we’ll soon enter into another era when cars start to look very samey (the new Alfa Romeo Giulia, which from most angles closely resembles the generic “German look” is another example).

Even the BMW’s bold “monobrow” face, where the bigger kidney grille is flanked by headlights that carry the styling lines across the prow isn’t that original – Mercedes-Benz has the same overstated look these days. 

With this latest 5 Series, BMW deserves to do as well as – or better than – it has done with any its sports/exec saloon offerings since the 1960s.

For this 5 Series will almost drive itself with its adaptive cruise control, lane-recognition system and self-parking features. And as I say, it delivers a combination of power, economy and performance that was unthinkably ambitious even a few years ago. There are few car companies as accomplished as BMW. Who knows, it may even save diesel from itself. 

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