• Sporty handling
  • Blazing speed (M5)
  • Surprising fuel economy (528i, 535i, 535d)
  • Dumbed-down steering
  • Gran Turismo's awkward proportions
  • Byzantine options list

By Automobile Magazine

What's New for 5-Series in 2014

The 5 Series has a slightly updated appearance inside and out. The Gran Turismo is more extensively restyled, with effort concentrated on reducing the visual bulk at the rear. A trio of new appearance packages includes the Luxury Line, the Modern Line, and the M Sport. Mechanically, there's a new six-cylinder diesel for the 535d that promises better fuel economy, while the V-8 in the 550i adds 45 hp and 30 lb-ft of torque to its already robust totals...
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Vehicle Summary

BMW's midsize sedan, the 5 Series, manages to blend luxury and athleticism. Depending on the model chosen, the amount of the latter varies more than the amount of the former. Powertrain choices for the 5 Series span a greater range than ever, from the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo in the 528i to the 560-hp twin-turbo V-8 in the mighty M5. In addition to the sedan, the 5 Series can also be had as a hatchback, the 5 Series Gran Turismo. The Gran Turismo isn't just a 5 Series with a hatch; it has a larger body and a slightly higher seating position, putting it sort of midway between a 5 Series sedan and BMW's X5 SUV.

Overview

The BMW 5 Series comes in a variety of models, but all are uncommonly athletic for a luxury sedan of this size. BMW fetishists fret that the steering isn't as direct and communicative as it used to be -- and that's a fair criticism. Befitting BMW's image as a driver's car, the 528i, the 535i, and the M5 are all available with a six-speed manual transmission, which is unusual in this class. An excellent eight-speed automatic is standard on all models save the M5, which gets a racier seven-speed M-DCT dual-clutch automatic. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but most 5 Series models can be had with xDrive all-wheel drive. The 528i is powered by BMW's 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4, which sounds small for a car of this size but, with 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, actually works fine. It also returns as much as 23/34 mpg city/highway. If you're looking for even better mileage, there's the 535d, which features BMW's 255-hp, 3.0-liter turbo-diesel and is rated at 26/38 mpg. Of course, more powerful engines are available -- lots more. The 535i uses BMW's 300-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter straight six. The 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 in the 550i amps up performance with 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque.

At the top of the heap is the M5, which gets 560 hp from its turbocharged V-8. The M5 offers more than just big power, however. This is a comprehensively reengineered super sedan with a standard Active M differential that helps put the tremendous power to the pavement and can send power across the rear axle to aid cornering. (Don't look for xDrive, though, it's not offered on the M5.) The M5 also features high-performance brakes, specifically tuned steering, and a unique suspension with electronically controlled dampers. The transmission's race start feature and a stability control system that can be put into M Dynamic mode (allowing a degree of oversteer) -- or switched off completely -- appeal to track-day enthusiasts. Unique styling touches, inside and out, telegraph the message that this is a special BMW.

With its larger, hatchback body, the 5 Series Gran Turismo also has a unique look. The longer wheelbase makes for a particularly roomy back seat, more like that of a 7 Series. The Gran Turismo also has a larger cargo hold, which can be expanded by folding down the rear seat. Despite these advantages, the Gran Turismo has been a tough sell, mostly due to its awkward proportions; its rear end has been restyled for 2014. The Gran Turismo is offered only in 535i and 550i guise; either can be had with xDrive AWD.

Key Competitors

  • Audi A6
  • Infiniti Q70
  • Lexus GS
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class

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