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BMW detroit auto show 2017

After months of anticipation, the 7th generation BMW 5 Series is officially here. We've seen the photos, and there was a bit of hands on at CES (more on that later) but Detroit was the full reveal. I've spent several hours looking at the G30 5 Series from every angle, had a brief drive at CES and now my first impressions are ready.

First question is why the new 5 Series so important to BMW. The 5 Series is one of BMW's main products, not only in terms of sales and also as part of their identity. With SUVs eating into large sedans sales, and a hot new E Class, BMW needs to get this right.

The G30 chassis codes comes in four main variants for the US market. The entry level 530i with a turbo 2L 4 cylinder, the 530e 4 cylinder turbo and electric motor hybrid, a 3L inline 6 powered 540i and the top of the line M550i with performance figures previously reserved for the M5. A 540d diesel model is coming, but BMW's diesel roadmap is murky as a result of VW's diesel gate.

The 530i, 530e, and 540i can be spec'ed out as either rear wheel or all wheel xDrive while the M550i comes xDrive only. As the naming implies, the performance, handling and luxury options are tiered from the entry 530i up to the top of the line M550i.

2017 Model Year G30 5 Series Sedan Pricing and Ordering guides

BMW detroit auto show 2017

Exterior

A slow walk around the exterior reveals a series of subtle design cues that are easy to miss on quick glance. The more you admire the sedan the more you see the nuances and you realize all the little details are what makes it so visually appealing from afar. Overall the design works better in dark colors, light colors enlarge and round the design edges that pop on a deeper color.

Up front the design language from the 7 is clearly evident but the 5 has more focus. Side by side the 7 series is bubbly and rounded while the 5 Series is sharper and angled corners. The grills are wide and can open and close to improve aerodynamics or for cooling. The Adaptive LED headlights, standard connect the grills to the fenders and a camera on a black plate spans the center of the grills. This black plate is part of BMW's new front design, unfortunately it makes for a busy design. Adding to the business the M550i grills are titanium, introducing yet another color. Despite a lot going on the design holds up, especially in M Sport or M550i. The larger bumper openings counterbalance all the movement in the grill area.

Around the sides, the fender vents and connecting sheet metal creases create a sense of motion. The design feels sporty and feels more intentional than the stick on 'hockey stick' on the G12 7 Series. The door handles have the comfort access ridged inside and a chrome strip on the outside.

The back feels typical BMW, perhaps more than the rest of the car. On all but the M550i traditional round tail pipes look the part and the trapezoid shape on the M550i is a love it or hate it departure from the norm.

BMW detroit auto show 2017

Interior

The interior of the new 5 has a design focus and thoughtfulness that's been missing. The differences between the 7 Series, the obvious comparison point, are subtle in pictures but noticeable in person. The touch screen makes the iDrive control feel redundant and the gesture control works better than the 7 Series but still has quirks that need to be worked out. Disappointingly the 530i interior materials look and feel cheap; cheaper than I was expecting. I will compare these to the interiors on the 540i and M550i soon and will have more on this.

The all digital dash opens up a lot of options for future updates, and anything future proof right now is a good idea. Unfortunately in direct sunlight it was nearly impossible to make the indicator lights and the needles weren't instantly visible either. With the HUD I never use the dash so how much that matters is up for debate.

Rear leg room is good but not great. The 5 Series has increased 1.2 inches, but only 0.2 inches in wheelbase so there is only so much BMW could do. At 6'5" there was limited room for my rear seat passengers. With a sub-6-foot driver I found the legroom to be good, so it really depends on where you put the seat.

BMW detroit auto show 2017

Driving

At CES I had a brief opportunity to get behind the wheel of a 530i for a autonomous driving demo. BMW was showing what BMW Connected will enable you to do in the car once the car is level 3 autonomously driving. BMW tuned up the systems already in place on the 5 Series so that it was safe to have the car drive for itself (with two safety people as backup). As a result I wasn't actually driving that much, but my initial impression is that purists are going to be disappointed with the steering. It is really light and floaty with little feeling transmitted back to the driver. The seats on the other hand (not sure which ones) were amazing and some of the most comfortable seats I've ever sat in. More on the driving once I get behind the wheel for a proper test drive.

What did I think?

Before seeing it in person and really admiring it I was mixed on the design. After a day with the new 5 Series the quality of design work is some of BMW's best. All the parts flow into another and feel like a complete, focused package. I have reservations about the interior material quality and driving that won't be answered until I have more time behind the wheel. With large sedans sales are under attack from SUVs BMW needs to have gotten this right. I'll update the review with more once I have it.

BMW detroit auto show 2017

Questions

I took a series of questions from Bimmerfest members to Detroit with me to get answers. BMW will of course not answer all questions but I did get a good number of solid responses.

pharding - please ask if 223 Dynamic Damper Control comes with the 704 M Sport Suspension. Also please if you want the best Sport Suspension

Answer: They are not available together, the best sport suspension comes from M. In other words get option 704 M Sport.

Lennox01 - when in the UK I can order a 550d or 550i

Answer: Detroit is a US auto show, no one was there to answer UK questions.

Gary J - pic of the trunk without the space saver

Answer: Click on the image for a larger version -



MarkJK - I am wondering what is standard on that model (M550i). Any impressions on how the car handles would be appreciated. I assume they will show the 540, but if you can get your hands on a M550i even better.

Answer: The M550i specs for the US have not be finalized yet so they couldn't say. They don't let you drive cars at the show show so I don't know yet. I drove the 530i very briefly but not enough to give much of an impression.

ImolaRedM - US cars get anti-dazzle head lights. Any information on the date for M550i and if the M550i will have a larger fuel tank.

Answer: No to anti-dazzle headlights. BMW wouldn't share the date for anything related to the M550i yet but it has been rumored for April. I didn't ask about the fuel tank but highly doubt it would be bigger. That implies there is some room they could have used for the fuel tank but didn't on any other model, which doesn't make sense.

Malibu34 - Poke around for info on if they plan to bring the Diesel G30 to the USA. Will we see a 2018 540dX?

Answer: Diesel details will be released in a couple weeks. There will be a diesel G30 but they declined to comment on what model.

casper - On the 540i M sport, suspension set up - we are not 100% clear if we can have 2 and 3 together, or which is the best (sportier?) setup.

Answer: They are not available together, the best sport suspension comes from M. In other words get option 704 M Sport.

pharding - Also please ask about pricing on the M550i.

Answer: The 2018 BMW M550i xDrive Sedan will be available starting at $72,100 - Read more

luigi524td - whether or not BMW managed to carve out some additional back seat passenger leg room that'd be great

Asnwer: The leg room is good but not great. I'll get more time in the car later this week I hope and can let you know more then.

ImolaRedM - when the i cars will get traffic jam assist

Answer: I did not have time to connect with someone about this.

chrischeung - I'd like to know if the M550i will have some type of LSD - limited slip differential. Standard, optional, or N/A.

Answer: M Performance Parts will not be making a LSD for any G30 5 Series. There will however be a ton of other M Performance Parts for the new 5.
 

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Thank you for sharing your initial impressions. Looking forward to future updated.

Am I reading incorrectly that the 540i is a V8?
I though 530i is 4-, 540i is 6-, M550 is is 8-cylinder.
 

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Just a FYI, regarding anti-dazzle head lights the US government wont allow BMW to offer this on cars, it's not that BMW does not want to offer it.
 

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:thumbup:

Thanks, Tim! Really appreciate your followup on our questions.
 

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Thank you for sharing your initial impressions. Looking forward to future updated.

Am I reading incorrectly that the 540i is a V8?
I though 530i is 4-, 540i is 6-, M550 is is 8-cylinder.
I was wondering the same and its probably just a typo on tim's part. Pretty sure its 4,6 and 8 for 530, 540 and 550.

Thanks for the write-up Tim! And for especially taking the time to get the forum member's questions answered.

RE:LSD, I thought that should definitely be an option since I know back in the M235i introduction days it was being optioned for the 2-Series.
 

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Tim, many thanks for answering all of our questions.

I hope the floaty steering feel was due to the fact that this may have been a special demo vehicle with the autonomous driving technology.
 

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Thank you for sharing your initial impressions. Looking forward to future updated.

Am I reading incorrectly that the 540i is a V8?
I though 530i is 4-, 540i is 6-, M550 is is 8-cylinder.
No the 540 is a inline 6, the 550 is a V8
 

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Tim, did they mention whether they would have a comparison roll out like they did with the F10, where you could drive the cars against the competition?
 

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I think the light, floaty steering is typical of the outgoing 528. That was my impression of that car when I had one for a loaner a year ago. It almost felt like driving a Buick. My 535 X Drive with M Sport rides much firmer and the steering is heavier although no more direct. It just feels more sporty. I think we have to remember that the 5 series is first and foremost a luxury saloon. The 530 is a base model that would appeal to the luxury driver. The 540 will have M Sport as standard, higher powered engine, sport suspension options, etc., which are all geared to the driving enthusiast. And then, there is the new M550. Personally, I wouldn't read much into a short test drive in a base model at this point. Some of the car magazines (and other reviewers) have already driven the 540 in Europe and have been giving it glowing reviews stating much better driving dynamics and performance. Let's wait and see ... :)
 

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I think the light, floaty steering is typical of the outgoing 528. That was my impression of that car when I had one for a loaner a year ago. It almost felt like driving a Buick. My 535 X Drive with M Sport rides much firmer and the steering is heavier although no more direct. It just feels more sporty.
The F10 xDrive has hydraulic steering vs the electric steering in the RWD models. That's why you feel the difference. The G30 is all electric regardless of drivetrain.
 

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The F10 xDrive has hydraulic steering vs the electric steering in the RWD models. That's why you feel the difference. The G30 is all electric regardless of drivetrain.
The 528 and the 535 in Canada (F10) both used the same hydraulic steering (we only get X Drive models in Canada). I was just suggesting (based on that comparison) that we need to wait until we drive the 540 to comment on floaty steering and/or ride. I don't think the 530 is a good guide to how the 540 or 550 will ride/steer. I suspect as with the F10, the tuning will be different.
 

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The 528 and the 535 in Canada (F10) both used the same hydraulic steering (we only get X Drive models in Canada). I was just suggesting (based on that comparison) that we need to wait until we drive the 540 to comment on floaty steering and/or ride. I don't think the 530 is a good guide to how the 540 or 550 will ride/steer. I suspect as with the F10, the tuning will be different.
I seem to remember 704 was not available on the xdrive F10.
As is clear from reading this (and quite some other threads) you want the sport suspension for experiencing the desired driving characteristics.
 

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I seem to remember 704 was not available on the xdrive F10.
As is clear from reading this (and quite some other threads) you want the sport suspension for experiencing the desired driving characteristics.
Correct. Before the G30, 704 was not available with X Drive. I'm hopeful a 540 X Drive with 704 and M Sport will provide a better "drivers" car as compared to the 535 X Drive. I'm not holding my breath for a "night and day" difference though. I expect it will be more buttoned down than the 530 tim drove though.
 
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