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2014 BMW 5 Series First Drive By Henny Hemmes

2014 BMW 5 Series  (select to view enlarged photo)
2014 BMW 5 Series Sedan

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

MUNICH, July 4, 2013. After the earlier announcement of the upcoming subtle facelift for the 2014 BMW 5 Series , the 2014 model was ready for test drives last week and will soon be on the markets worldwide.

2014 BMW 5 Series  (select to view enlarged photo)

The make over includes a different contour of the kidney grille for all variants, a different rear apron and slightly changed rear lights. The Sedan and Touring have new lower air intakes, but most significant are the changes to the rear of the 5 Series Gran Turismo.

BMW has been aware of the critical comments on the somewhat bulky looking rear of the GT. They took it serious and focused on a more dynamic design for the update in the middle of the 5 Series life cycle.

2014 BMW 5 Series  (select to view enlarged photo)

Before starting our test drives, exterior designer Fabian Clottu explained how this has been achieved: “We optically lowered the complete rear end with a longer hatch and a larger angle. The creases are deeper and the horizontal chrome list has been moved downwards to a lower position.”

The changes also resulted in a larger luggage compartment, that now takes 500 liter/17.7 cu-ft., which is 60 liter/2.1 cu-ft more than the current model. By sliding the rear seats forward by the 73 mm/2.87 in., the boot capacity grows to 650 l / 23 cu-ft. With the backrests down, the GT has a maximum of 1,700 l / 60 cu-ft. of load capacity.

The GT and the Touring models have automatic tailgate operation, which is an option for the Sedan. But even more practical is the comfort access, an optional feature on all three models, that opens and - now also - closes the tailgate by a movement of your foot under the rear apron.

2014 BMW 5 Series  (select to view enlarged photo)

2014 BMW 5 Series  (select to view enlarged photo)

It is no surprise that the design of the GT got a lot of attention. This variant is, after all, very popular in especially China where some 35 percent of all 5 GTs are sold. Talking about sales: the current generation is not only the segment leader but also the most successful of all 5 Series, with over one million units sold in the first half of its life cycle.

2014 BMW 5 Series  (select to view enlarged photo)

The Sedan is the best sold variant in North America (40 per cent), followed by China and Europe with respectively 35 and 25 per cent. In Europe, the Touring is the best seller and especially Germans love the roomy sophisticated looks (47 per cent). Since the introduction of the ‘5’ in 1972, more than 6.6 million units have been sold, therefore, BMW does not exaggerate when claiming that the 5 Series is a global bestseller.

2014 BMW 5 Series  (select to view enlarged photo)

The 5 Series 335i GT was available for the first tests, as well as the 530 d. The torque of the diesel is impressive and the combination with the 8-speed transmission is excellent. The engine reacts quick and willing and when you are cruising at low revs and hit the throttle, the power is immediately and fully available while producing a low rumble.

2014 BMW 5 Series  (select to view enlarged photo)

The chassis of the new 5 has been improved for comfort, which on the road translates into a smooth and comfortable ride. In corners there is hardly any movement of the body and the 5 Series stays well on track.

The improved electric power steering feels precise, but to feel the difference with the current 5 Series, I would have to drive them one by one on the same route. Dynamic Damper Control is available as an option. It adapts electronically to the driving style and the condition of the road, while the Adaptive Drive system includes active roll stabilization by means of electronically controlled anti-roll bars that help reduce body roll in quick corners or sudden lane changes. The lower M Sport suspension is also optional.

2014 BMW 5 Series  (select to view enlarged photo)

Inside the new 5 Series, you soon notice the larger iDrive controller. It did not only grow in size, it now also has a super flat surface that recognizes the letters or numbers that your finger scribbles on it. I remember such a touch pad debuted in the Audi A8 in 2010 and I can see the advantages, especially for recognizing languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Farsi, etc.

BMW has expanded the Connected Drive possibilities, meaning that there are more driver assistance systems and a lot of possibilities for connectivity. BMW has also put a lot of work to update the infotainment system, that now offers personalized music on demand and real time traffic information.

Honestly, I am worried about all the possibilities that we as drivers get with the new technology. Driver distraction is the word here. Long ago, I realized I missed which cars I passed when I was on the phone, even for a short while and in hands-free mode. Therefore, I never make a call, not to speak about looking ad the display for anything like music or texts. And incoming calls I answer only with “I will call you back in X minutes, when I am out of the car.”

My Australian colleague Michael Taylor even told me that in his country, you cannot do any thing in that respect, unless the handbrake is engaged.

Ehh… when pulling the handbrake in order to get the car into a controlled drift, I surely will have no time to look at the display!

That said, the head up display in the 5 Series no includes full-color and also project phone contacts and entertainment program listing into the wind screen. In any case HUD will keep drivers’ eyes focused on the road, but not for everything.

There is also other technology, such as pedestrian detection with spot light function, a traffic jam assistant and parking assistant. This debuted in the 7 Series and now finds its way to the 5 Series.

The bi xenon headlights are standard on all models and adaptive LED headlights are on the option list as well as LED fog lamps.

2014 BMW 5 Series  (select to view enlarged photo)

In the GT, the higher seating position provides excellent view on the road, but to my taste it is a bit too much. Also, you feel the weight of the car, even in Sport mode, the GT misses the agility of the Sedan and Touring.

You hardly hear the engine and are more focused on the premium feel inside the cabin. Admitted, such a model is a conscious choice and people who fall for the GT will love its drivin qualities, the well executed cockpit and the possibility to take quite some luggage on the trip.

The Sedan and Touring get a new base model, the 518d. Its 2.0-liter diesel engine has 143 hp and 360 Nm(266 lb-ft) of torque. The diesel engine uses only 4.5 l/100 km, which is the equivalent of 62.8 mpg imp in the European cycle.

New for the US will be the availability of a diesel engine. It will power the 535d with 254 hp and 414 lb-ft of torque. This model will also be available with xDrive. On the high end of the motorization, there is more power for the 550i. The 4.4-liter v8 now has Valvetronic and a twin-scroll turbo, resulting in 450 hp and 650 Nm/(79 lb-ft), while fuel consumption is down to 8,6 l/100 km(32.9 mph) imp, which is 17 per cent less than of the outgoing power plant.

All-wheel drive will now also be available for the 520 Touring and Sedan, while all models of the GT can be ordered with xDrive, except for the 520d.

The 2013 5 Series will be available in Modern and Luxury Line and with the M Sport Package from July 20 in Germany, The Netherlands and Austria and a week later in the other European countries. Russian dealerships get the 2014 5 Series on August 3, but North America and Asia will have to wait until September, and Japan and Korea until the beginning of October.

In the US, the 2014 BMW 5 Series Sedan starts at $50,425, including $925 destination charge. This is a $1,700 dollar increase over the base 2014 model, but nearly $1,000 less than the Mercedes E350 Sedan.

The price of the ActiveHybrid 5 of $62,325 (including shipping) has not changed.