BMW is normally known for being fast, comfortable and exclusive, so, I was astounded that it would launch a 5 series with a two litre four cylinder engine. A car of this size and weight surely requires at least a 3 litre six cylinder engine to perform effectively, especially on the reef. To my surprise, the vehicle actually performed a lot better than expected, in fact, I believe this engine is well suited to this vehicle, i.e. ample power combined with fantastic fuel consumption.

This is all thanks to the latest generation BMW turbo diesel engine. On the road, the vehicle accelerates well for a family saloon and it has sufficient overtaking power to make passing those slow moving trucks effortless. The overall fuel consumption was also quite astonishing, averaging 8 litres per 100 kilometres, considering particularly that most of my test driving was in the city.

From the outside, the latest generation 5 has had a bit of a face-lift, which has given the vehicle a fresher and more refined look. As part of the facelift – the front end has been changed, including bumper, headlight and grill treatment. The car is now also fitted with led running lights front and rear. The test vehicle I had was a silver motorsport version with cream interior. The light coloured interior made the cabin feel much bigger and more airy.

The vehicle also had some extras that really made the overall experience rewarding. To make sure that it can compete with the family MPV, the vehicle now has the option of through loading, which allows for the rear seats to be folded forward in a 60:40 split, giving that extra loading space when required. The vehicle is also fitted with the same electronic gearbox as tested in the X5. The sports package, I believe, is a must if you enjoy having a sportier feeling vehicle with a sleeker looking body. Inside, the new look sports steering has the right touch and feedback to make you feel as if you are driving a sports car instead of a family saloon.

The vehicle comes standard with the latest generation i-drive system, which has a few more buttons when compared to the older system. The additional buttons are basically shortcuts to the more commonly accessed features of the i-drive system – the radio, navigation, telephone, etc., which enable the driver to move between these functions quickly without going back to the main menu.

The new auto cruise system has a small indicator that moves on the inside of the speed calibration on the speedometer. It is red when not in use and turns green when the vehicle is operating on the auto cruise system. It also indicates the most recently saved speed, if the driver would like to resume the speed at which you were previously cruising. The interior has sufficient space for a family of five, including their luggage, and incorporates all modern amenities.

Given the current global economic crisis we are facing, value for money vehicles and well-balanced vehicles are the order of the day. This I believe will definitely be up there in the list to be considered. Yes, it is expensive compared to a basic family vehicle, however, this is not a basic family vehicle. This is a well rounded and well balanced vehicle that has sufficient space and power, and is remarkably frugal at the pumps. Overall, a winner in my book.

Car courtesy of BMW SA.

Azim Omar CA(SA)