26th August, 2010
Mercedes Benz and BMW have been at each otherâ€™s throats in the premium executive saloon segment for years. A stroke of genius in a new E-Class saloon would shortly be followed by a counter stroke in the new 5 Series.
Like a never ending game,Â a move by either is countered by the other. Of course ultimately, it is the buyers who benefit. And it is so with the new BMW 5 Series.
Mercedes launched its latest generation E-Class last year and garnered plenty of attention and not to mention sales. It left the aging BMW 5 Series sitting cold behind the display window. BMW has since pulled off the covers on the new generation of its 5 Series and collected orders even before the car was launched.
The new 5 looks radically different from its predecessor, the E60, which is not saying much considering the furore generated by its â€œBangle Designâ€ and it is about as long as the standard wheelbase previous generation 7 Series, while its exterior design language now exudes a more understated tone that borders on being conservative.
Viewed from the side, the 5 looks especially handsome and well-proportioned, thanks to its relatively long bonnet and the creases on the doors and wings. The styling might not wow you at first glance, but it does really grow on you and hopefully, with the new 5, BMW has finally found the right style and look that will transcend to next yearâ€™s new 3 Series.
Features like adaptive drive with dynamic damper control and dynamic drive stability control as well as active steering can also be had as options to further sharpen the dynamics.
The all-new interior is far superior in perceived luxury and quality over the former when it was first launched. The switchgear is mostly familiar BMW itemsâ€”they not only look good but work with tactility as well.
The dials look similar to the 7 Seriesâ€™ while the centre console and iDrive screen is angled towards the driver. The latest iDrive operating system and interface is far easier to use than the version one in early E60s. The driver gets a chunky three-spoke steering wheel that is not too thick and a joy to hold, while the substantially sized electrically adjustable front seats offer a large variety of adjustments to suit all body sizes.
Hooked up to the engine is a brand new eight-speed automatic gearbox. BMWâ€™s first eight-speeder is brilliantly good and thereâ€™s no exaggeration here. The gearbox is lightening fast with its shifts, almost instantaneous to the point that it feels faster, if not as fast as a twin clutch box and unlike Mercedesâ€™ 7G-Tronic box, it doesnâ€™t hunt for gears but instead, is quite intuitive in choosing the right gear for the right conditions.