New BMW 5 Series (2017) review: Hands on with the most connected BMW yet
BMW 5 Series (2017) review: Audio
The car I used was fitted with an optional 600W, 16-speaker, Harman Kardon system and it performed extremely well, providing a powerful but balanced tone throughout. With impressively clear highs, atmospheric tracks such as Matt Lange’s “Lying to Myself” sounded crisp, airy and spacious, but thanks to the BMW’s flat, powerful sound signature, the rest of the track is also delivered with poise.
In the 5 Series, drums have punch, while the deep, low notes were delivered with true authority. The only issue? The occasional hand movement would accidentally either increase or decrease the volume.
This actually isn’t the top-of-the-range system, either: that title goes to the 10-channel, 16-speaker, 1,400W Bowers & Wilkins system – and we’re hoping to test that soon.
BMW 5 Series (2017) review: Connectivity and apps
The 5 Series is the most connected car BMW offers today, partly because it wants to be best friends with your mobile phone … and in some instances replace it. For example, the 5 Series comes with its own Wi-Fi hotspot so it’s possible to connect up to ten devices at a time and use the car’s own 4G connection.
BMW’s apps also let you do everything from check your emails to refresh your Twitter feed, and because the 5 Series’ touchscreen is so big, you can carry out most tasks with something else docked in alongside it in split-screen view.
BMW has also updated its BMW Connected app for the 5 Series, and it’s designed to forge a greater link between your phone and your car than ever before. Called BMW Connected, it lets you do useful things such as pre-condition before the car you get in, or even flash the headlights to make it easier to locate your car in the car park.
The connected app also comes with a 3D remote view, a feature that takes a 3D snapshot of the environment around the car, which can then be shared. BMW says this is useful for letting someone know where the car is, or just helping you remember where you left it. In the future, BMW says that this feature could be triggered by the car’s proximity sensors, so it can alert you when something or someone gets too close.
BMW 5 Series (2017) review: Alexa and CarPlay
Intriguingly, the app is also compatible with Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant technology, which means it’s possible to control aspects of the 5 Series remotely with your voice. BMW says owners will be able to check their vehicle’s battery charge, fuel and even send over navigation details via an Echo, Echo Dot or any other Alexa-enabled device.
The new 5 Series also comes with both Apple CarPlay and a wireless charger for Android phones, so you get a nice bonus whichever handset you go for. The BMW actually uses a wireless version of CarPlay, too, which really does make a difference to the way you use it. After pairing once, you can leave your phone in your pocket, making the CarPlay experience even more seamless than before. CarPlay also works with BMW’s split-screen function, so you can use BMW’s own system alongside the Apple UI.
However, just like the Nissan Micra, the BMW 5 Series fails to include Android Auto compatibility. That’s a less-than-ideal omission, since Android Auto is included on the new 2017 Mercedes-Benz E Class and on most of the Audi range.
BMW 5 Series (2017) review: Drive
I drove the new BMW 5 Series on some of the most flowing, demanding roads around Malaga, and it proved itself comfortable on motorways and winding mountain roads alike. While in M mode, the 5 series felt urgent, with responsive steering and quicker throttle response making the BMW go wherever you wanted it to. However, this mode also let you feel the road surface in HD, with bumps and all.
In comfort and adaptive mode, the new BMW 5 Series was a far more sophisticated affair. Although it didn’t have the poise of sport mode, it was far more comfortable on bumpy roads, and ate up motorway with ease. Even at higher speeds, road noise in the 5 Series is practically non existent, and when combined with the smooth ride, it’s very easy to go much faster than you think you are.
BMW 5 Series (2017) review: Semi-autonomous systems
And for those times when you don’t want the stress of driving, the 5 Series comes with a veritable avalanche of advanced driver-assistance tech, in the form of BMW Co-Pilot. The new BMW is fitted with a stereo camera, ultrasound and radar sensors, and all three work together to offer various semi-autonomous functions.
Dynamic Cruise Control can maintain a specified distance to the car in front, and it also bounces radar off the road to monitor the situation up to two or three cars in front. That means the cruise control is able to pre-emptively slow down and speed up depending on the traffic situation, giving you a smoother, more efficient drive. As you’d expect, the car has autonomous emergency braking to slow it to a complete stop. It also works between 19mph and 155mph, so it’s suitable for motorway driving – or cruising on the Autobahn.
There’s also the Lane Keeping Assistant, which gently steers the car into the middle of the lane if it starts to drift out. Once the system is happy with road markings, it’s easy to switch on, and you probably won’t notice it much of the time. If the car drifts too close to the edge of the lane, however, the system will simply guide it back. However, this isn’t autonomous driving as such, so the system will sound an alarm if you fail to keep your hands on the wheel. If you forget to indicate when changing lanes, you can feel the system fight to keep the car in the middle of the lane.
Most cars have parking assistance – but they don’t do parking assistance as well as the BMW 5 Series. Thanks to a combination of beeps, live camera feeds and overlaid graphics, the BMW 5 Series gives you a wealth of information about what’s around the car, and how close it is. For example, graphics go from green to red to show how close cars are, while a top-down view makes it easy to thread the 5 Series into particularly tight spots.
I didn’t get to test it during my time with the car, but the BMW 5 Series also includes a self-parking functionality. I did test the car’s remote parking ability, however, and found it was remarkably effective.
As with the 7 Series, this feature allows you to get out the car and park it using the key fob – which is particularly useful for backing it into cramped garages and car-park spaces. The system forces you to walk with the car, so you can keep an eye on its surroundings, but the car does everything else automatically.
BMW 5 Series (2017) review: Price and Verdict
The new BMW 5 Series is one of the most capable saloon cars you can buy right now. On the outside it’s far more stylish and aggressive than it used to be, while on the inside it benefits from a range of new technology that will make your life easier.
It’s not perfect, and could do with the removal of gesture control and the addition of Android Auto, but features such as the HUD, wireless CarPlay and BMW Connected app make it a very easy car to live with. Starting from £36,000, the 5 Series isn’t cheap compared with E Class or the Audi A5, but it does include a good amount as standard that you have to pay extra for on its rivals. For example, features you’ll probably want like LED headlights, an automatic transmission and a high-end navigation system are available as standard on the 5 Series, but cost around £4,000 combined to add to its rivals.
If you’re after a classy all-rounder with some serious innovation built-in, the 5 Series should be at the top of your list.