As you can see from our exclusive images, a styling rethink isn’t top of the list of priorities. The new model is set to retain a familiar profile, with refinements to the details helping to create a more modern, premium look that’s a bit sportier than the current-generation 5 Series. BMW knows full well that buyers in this class don’t want radical styling.
Key to the 5 Series’ appeal has always been its sharp handling, and the company is looking to improve things further with a new lightweight platform that can be tweaked to underpin anything from the 3 Series to the 7 Series.
By using more high-strength steels, aluminium and carbon fibre-reinforced plastic, BMW will hope to cut the kerbweight by about 100kg.
As well as improving agility, the new, lightweight materials should help stiffen up the 5 Series even further.
Under the bonnet will be BMW’s range of modular engines, built up of 500cc cylinders. These are already found in the MINI, with the 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, plus the 2.0-litre four-cylinder in the Cooper S. A 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel will power the ever-popular 520d, and BMW is weighing up whether buyers will be willing to drive a three-cylinder 5 Series.
Either way, the cleanest diesels are expected to dip below 100g/km, while plug-in hybrids will be offered for the first time on the 5. These will use a similar set-up to the BMW i8 supercar, which combines a 1.5-litre engine and an electric motor. The new M5 will get a refined 4.4-litre V8.
BMW sees a hi-tech future in store for the 5 Series, based around connectivity and semi-autonomous driving. We rode in a prototype last year that could take control on the motorway – knowing when to overtake, when to move out of the way of cars joining from slip roads and recognising that it couldn’t undertake. BMW said at the time the tech was around two years away, and providing there’s a change in the law, it will be offered on the next 5 Series.
If you want to do all the driving yourself, the 5 Series will have a raft of aids to make things easier. One pre-selects a lower gear as you approach a slower car and changes down as soon as you indicate.
Every 5 Series sold will come Internet-enabled and fitted with a SIM card to let drivers access apps on the go, such as music streaming services and Google search or just turn on the heating or air-con from your smartphone.
The saloon will arrive first – it’s expected in summer 2016, with prices starting from around £33,000. But it’ll be followed by a family of 5 Series models.
As with the current line-up, the 6 Series will essentially be the two-door coupe version of the 5 Series. Flagship M6 will get the same 4.4-litre V8 twin-turbo as the M5.
Mercedes’ E-Class Estate has always lead the way for space, so BMW will want its all-new Touring to close the gap. Expect optional air-suspension to compensate for heavy loads.
The current Gran Turismo isn’t the sales success BMW had hoped, but flexibility of the new platform makes it easier to stretch wheelbase and widen tracks to create this more luxurious 5 Series.
Pictures: Christian Schulte