BMW 540i: the five that could be a seven

The seventh generation of five makes it possible to conclude that there is no need for a sevens to enjoy luxury while indulging in luxury. With the new five, the Bayerische Motoren Werke have redefined the term upper middle class.

The scene has a slapstick character: When a passer-by looks curiously through the side window into the interior of the test car, we cannot resist the temptation. We start the engine by remote control using the vehicle key and move the five-way forward a few centimeters using remote parking. The man must be scared to death because he screams for a moment, jumps back and doesn't know what to think. No, it is not here Do you understand fun at work, but a technical feature that suggests the future of autonomous driving. After a short breath and our honest apology, the fact that the five doesn't just move autonomously, but doesn't even need a driver, fascinates us so much that we can't avoid a long explanation of the technology.

"The business limousine par excellence"

The five is "the business sedan par excellence," says BMW boss Harald Krüger, without naming the Mercedes E-Class. In fact, according to numerous market researches, the five is considered more than its well-known competitors as one of the most coveted company cars in higher management. The image of the brand corresponds very clearly to the expectations of a clientele that is dynamic in every respect and often works as a self-employed person or as a manager. Competitors Mercedes-Benz and Audi are probably no less successful, but what makes a brand image BMW has the edge in the target group of young “doers”. BMW is considered a successful brand of the successful. Such subjective values ​​do not have to reflect reality. But perception is real.

The new five has become easier. The five-man has slimmed down up to 100 kilograms, kilos that are not only on paper, but can be felt. Thanks to integral active steering (1.250 euros), the five-seater meanders dynamically and pleasantly light-footed on winding country roads, does not burn anything on the highway and even smoothes over 200 cross joints even beyond speed. We currently do not know of a better chassis that can be individually adjusted. There are good chassis, but certainly not a better one.

A step towards autonomous driving

When it comes to assistance systems, BMW naturally offers what the most modern technologies have to offer. Stereo camera, radar and ultrasound sensors scan the vehicle surroundings. Lane Keeping Assist with active side collision protection monitors the lanes next to the vehicle; the steering actively intervenes when there is a threat of enemy contact. Active cruise control with the guidance assistant is a further step towards autopiloted driving. If you let the automatic lane keeping function too long, however, the lane becomes a slight serpentine line that could raise the suspicion of an alcohol drive.

The design could be bolder Photos: BMW AG

Above all, the voice control completely convinced us of the electronic systems. It is arguably the best working on the market. It is light years away from its beginnings because it really understands what the driver is saying. The head-up display has been redesigned and offers all the necessary information in the windshield in a brilliant layout. It can be adjusted in height and undoubtedly also deserves a grade one.

The gesture control does not have to be

We consider gesture control, which cannot do enough, to be superfluous. To turn the radio louder or quieter, we prefer to use the button on the steering wheel or on the radio. And to answer a phone call, we don't want to do without the haptic feedback at the push of a button because the virtual waving by hand doesn't seem concrete enough. In addition, the system does not always understand it. The human nervous system is designed so that haptic experience with the fingertips is important. This also applies to pressing a button.

Driving in the new five is - what did we expect? - a poem. Suspension and rolling character deserve top marks. Not even the seventh can really keep up with it, which of course appears a bit more sluggish with its higher weight if you want to get around the corners jagged. But what are we talking about. The five is undoubtedly the top in its class if you savor even the smallest nuances.

In this respect, Efficient Dynamics is not an empty promise

The engine characteristics and the 8-speed Steptronic fit together perfectly. The silky smooth run of the row six is ​​always the joy. We don't have to use the word turbine-like to describe this engine. But that's how it is: more turbine than pounding piston drive. Simply dream of an engine. Easy to turn, pleasant in sound and always ready to open the torque locks. The fact that we still remained well below the 10 liter mark in terms of consumption is due to progress. In this respect, Efficient Dynamics is not an empty promise of BMW marketing. Although the officially stated 6,5 liters per 100 km are understated like any standard, our actual consumption between 8 and 9,5 liters is more than adequate. Appropriately economical, mind you.

The head-up display has an excellent layout

We couldn't try out a lot in the test car. Just as we barely exhaust the possibilities of our computer programs, it is also with the on-board systems. The possibilities are endless. From automated parking to searching for free parking spaces, from WLAN hotspots for up to ten devices to automated lane changes. BMW Connected Onboard informs the driver of his next appointments and destinations, which the system receives wirelessly from the smartphone. It is enough for us that the connection of the iPhone works quickly and easily. Of course, everything has its price. Our test car was equipped with 54 optional extras, which add up to around 25.000 euros.

The design could be bolder

The reserved design of the new five looks too little progressive. It could have been more change from the previous one. Maybe even have to be. Or maybe not. Because the outer shape should also communicate the technological substance, one could underestimate the five. But whatever. The fact that the Design department demands more courage from the BMW Board of Management can be seen from the departure of numerous designers. In any case, it can be heard that there should have been audible criticism because BMW fell behind in the design of the products. But: nothing is as difficult to assess as design. Nowhere is criticism unfair, because a lot is just a matter of taste. Design can always be done differently, but not necessarily better. The new five appears harmonious, modern, dynamic and pleasing. It is not a polarizer. Perhaps that is the reason why the BMW design has now been given a breath of fresh air. Or are the BMW fans spoiled by big leaps in design, for which a certain chief designer Chris Bangle is still wrongly criticized today.

Technical data BMW 540i: four-door sedan with five seats, length: 4,94 meters, width: 1,87 meters, height: 1,48 meters, wheelbase: 2,97 meters, empty weight: 1.595 kilograms, trunk volume: 530 liters, fuel tank capacity : 68 liters, engine: in-line six-cylinder with TwinPower turbocharger, displacement 2998 ccm, power: 340 hp at 5.500 - 6.500 rpm, max. Torque: 450 Newton meters at 1.380 - 5.200 rpm, 0 - 100 km / h: 5,1 seconds, top speed: 250 km / h, standard consumption combined: 6,9 liters super / 100 km, CO2 emissions: 159 g / km, Euro 6, price from: 57.700 euros.









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