ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: BMW 5 SERIES TOURING
With -9 on the thermometer and heavy snow to contend with, Motoring Journalist DAVID HOOPER, editor of wheelworldreviews.co.uk, says a rear-wheel drive car was not at the top of his wish list, but BMW’s latest 5 Series coped surprisingly well in the adverse conditions.
I WAS looking forward to the arrival of BMW’s new 5 Series Touring – a car I had heard good things about and was long overdue in making my acquaintance with.
What I wasn’t quite so keen on, however, was the copious amounts of the white stuff that covered the east coast of England last month – the worst of which started falling the day the BMW arrived.
As I dropped the delivery driver off at the station, the town’s traffic was grinding to a halt – again, so it was a slow trip home. Well nearly home. You see, I live at the bottom of a hill, not a very big hill, but a hill nonetheless.
Now when you mix rear-wheel-drive cars with snow and any kind of incline, well, let’s just say, it ain’t happening, so I parked the car about half-a-mile away from the house and walked home. And that was where it stayed for the best part of a week, buried in about 14 inches of snow, as any of my Facebook followers will know.
My wife however, had a ticket for Michael Bolton at Sheffield City Hall which she’d spent a lot of money on several months ago. We thought that performance would be cancelled in the same way the other shows that week had been, but no, the website said it was on – which meant the BMW had to escape it’s wintry blanket of snow.
Armed with shovels and de-icer, we set to work, but I managed to extricate the car without too much difficulty, and made our way to the main roads, which were all moving slowly.
Once out of town, the motorways were fine, and the 5 Series, proved itself to be a very comfortable travelling companion. The large, cream leather seats were like armchairs, heated ones at that, and the climate control system kept the interior mist free, while the red ambient lighting, concealed in the door caps created a relaxing, classy atmosphere in
the car. Its temperature gauge reported an outside chill of -6 at times, but the car behaved faultlessly, with the head up display projecting the its speed and sat nav directions onto the windscreen, which is a relatively new, but very useful facility.
My dear wife was delivered safely for her concert while my son and I went to see the latest Denzel Washington film, Unstoppable, about a goods train which was… well, unstoppable. It was very good, and while a variation on a predicatable theme, entertaining on a cold night. We almost had the cinema to ourselves, which was fun.
The trip home saw some more challenges. Fresh snow was falling quickly as we neared Grimsby, but the car felt stable and secure. I overtook several drivers who seemed to think their cars were about to fall over because there was some fresh snow on the road. Trust me, they won’t. The secret to driving safely in the winter is to be smooth with the controls and plan well ahead. So long as you don’t need to stop quickly, or change direction sharply, the car will be fine. I don’t think I touched the brakes more than a couple of times all the way back from Sheffield city centre.
The new 5 Series then, is an impressive beast, packed with the latest technology, some of which was optional equipment on the model I tested.
Its bonnet is huge, and stretches out before you, but after a day or two at the wheel I soon became accustomed to its size and found it easy to place on the road. Parking sensors, with visual displays on one of the largest central screens in the business, guide you to within inches of cars in front or behind you, and this car featured all-round cameras, which mean you don’t have to risk sticking your bonnet out into the traffic to see if it’s clear. The press of a button on the centre console activates cameras on each front wing to let you see what’s approaching. Very clever.
The iDrive system has been simplified and is now far more intuitive to operate. I particularly like the virtual handbook, which lets you learn about the car without having to thumb through a manual as big, and heavy, as a novel.
Powered by the latest 3.0-litre straight 6 diesel engine, power was never going to be an issue, especially in the conditions I was faced with, but the engine was smooth and quiet, and aided by the latest Efficient Dynamics technology, was impressively.
There is plenty of space in the back, too. The glass section of the bootlid can be opened separately to pop shopping bags, or a jacket in the boot, or the whole thing opens easily, although I was surprised there was no auto-closing system on it.
There is an easy to use system to secure your luggage, with adjustable lashing points. I could fit my big shovel in the back quite easily, and there would be no problem getting a couple of sets of golf clubs in there too, but should you need more space, the flick of a lever in the boot will fold the rear seatbacks down.
I loved the new 5 Series Touring, it’s a big, luxurious machine, and I can honestly say I didn’t get stuck in the snow once in almost 300 miles. I did come close once or twice, but didn’t actually get stuck, which is quite surprising, considering the conditions. Yes, I was mindful of where I went with the car, but even the iced-up side roads didn’t stop me. I’d even put my snow chains in the boot, but that was where they stayed.
If you haven’t driven one yourself, then I recommend that you do so. Like me, I’m sure you’ll be impressed.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: BMW 5 Series Touring, 530d SE.
BMW 5 SERIES RANGE: From 523i (£33,585) to 535d M Sport 5dr (£47,545).
ENGINE: 2,993cc, 245bhp six-cylinder engine, driving rear wheels through 8-speed automatic gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 169g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 150mph. 0-62mph in 6.4 secs.
ECONOMY: City: mpg.
Fuel tank: 70 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 40.
WARRANTY: 3 years/Unlimited miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.