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BMW returns to sporting roots with new 5 Series

 Weeks of rain have coated the hills of California in vibrant green. New life fills the panoramic windshield of BMW’s latest 5 Series sedan and kisses the edge of a freshly paved road ahead. If I were piloting a lesser automobile, such beauty would surely demand pensive admiration, but in this moment, the feel of a thick leather steering wheel and sound of a straight-six engine consumes all consciousness. Vistas blur as the German sedan inhales every mile of highway 116 and flaunts 45 years of performance-bred prowess.

BMW’s seventh generation midsize sedan is a crucial indicator of the company’s focus. A swelling model line, comprised mostly of coupe-fashioned sedans and crossovers suggests the automaker has forgotten its sporting roots. There have been glimmers of hope via products like the spectacular M2, but luxury and design have seemingly overdrawn BMW’s resources, leaving little for performance engineering to optimize. Thankfully, the 2017 BMW 5 Series is here to balance the scales.

A passing glance may overlook the design distinctions between BMW’s new sport sedan and the outgoing model, but closer inspection reveals a re-sculpted front and rear fascia, sharper character line, slender LED headlights, and restyled tail lamps. Redefining an iconic shape is akin to harmonizing a Soprano with a Bass, yet this cutting-edge BMW remains instantly recognizable.

Diamond-quilted Napa leather seats invite passengers into the most premium and advanced cabin of any 5 Series to date. A high-resolution 10.2-inch touchscreen can be customized to show any data you desire. Drivers interact with a digital instrument gauge and prominent head-up display. Self-driving functionality takes the edge off long highway commutes. Hand gestures can control media settings. Put simply, there’s a good chance this car packs more innovation than your entire house.

Driving pleasure is first and foremost derived from an excellent platform. For its new 5 Series, BMW melded aluminum, magnesium, and high-strength steel into a work of rigid, lightweight art. Layered upon this fine blueprint is your choice of powertrains: entry-level 530i models utilize a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque while mid-range 540i variants employ a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine producing 335hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Later this year, a 530e iPerformance plug-in hybrid and V8-powered M550i will become available. Whichever your preferred motivator, all 5 Series models are equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission and come available with xDrive all-wheel drive.

Potent engines may be the facilitators of speed, but steering, suspension, and braking systems define the sensation. BMW’s adaptive dampers stifle road imperfections and tauten the 5 Series for hard cornering. An electronic variable steering rack parlays inputs instantly to the front wheels. Optional M Sport brakes halt momentum like the car has waded into a tar pit. Consider the performance box checked.

Deliveries of the all-new 5 Series began Feb. 11, with prices starting at $51,200 for the 530i. Should you find yourself deciding between BMW’s midsize model and Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class, you need only answer one question: are you a driver, or a passenger?

 


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