New facelifted BMW 5 Series takes aim at Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class

The BMW 5 Series has been updated with styling and efficiency tweaks, while a new 545e performance plug-in model joins the line-up

The current BMW 5 Series is the best-driving executive saloon in the class – and now the German manufacturer is going to turn up the heat on its rivals by introducing efficiency gains and fresh in-car tech on this new, facelifted version.

Outside, the changes are subtle, as you’d expect for a midlife refresh of such a well established model. The kidney grille is wider and taller, the headlights are slightly slimmer, and there’s a new LED tail-light design. There are different bumpers at the front and rear, too, along with a new wheel design for M Sport variants.

There are more significant changes under the skin – and principally under the bonnet, where almost all four and six-cylinder models now get 48-volt mild-hybrid electrification. The system (in effect an integrated starter/generator that’s coupled to a small additional battery) produces up to 11bhp to help with overtaking, off-the-line acceleration and stop-start situations.

The set-up has been available on the 520d since last year, but now it gets rolled out to the wider range. There’s no detail yet on resulting gains in efficiency, though.

BMW is also expanding the 5 Series’ plug-in hybrid line-up. From November, the 530e will be offered as a Touring estate for the first time. And there’s also a new six-cylinder petrol plug-in, badged 545e and offered only as a four-wheel-drive saloon.

At the top of the range, there’s a pseudo-M5 in the shape of the M550i xDrive saloon. This four-wheel-drive model has a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 producing 528bhp and 750Nm of torque, enough to take the 5 Series from 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds. This model also gets an M Sport differential and adaptive suspension.

Standard kit is boosted across the whole range, with entry-point SE cars coming with 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery and heated front seats, plus folding mirrors and an uprated Parking Assistant that can control the steering while reversing for distances of up to 50 metres. All SE Touring models get a powered tailgate, too.

Step up to M Sport trim and you’ll get 18-inch wheels, sports seats, a different design of instrument panel, and an M Sport steering wheel. This spec also brings more focused suspension on all but the 530e.

The UK’s highest trim is M Sport Edition, which comes in a choice of exclusive colours and also adds 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, red M brake calipers, sun-protection glass and, on saloon versions, a rear spoiler.

Another significant addition to the cabin is Android Auto. The smartphone connectivity, in conjunction with Apple CarPlay, will be standard across the range; it’s part of an uprated infotainment system that gets a larger screen (12.3 inches instead of 10.25) and BMW’s latest operating system, which has the ability to install updates over the air.

Prices start at £37,480 for a 520i SE saloon, while diesels cost from £38,500 for a 520d SE. The previous entry point for diesel 5 Series, the 518d, has been dropped. The new six-cylinder plug-in hybrid, the 545e xDrive, will cost from £54,945.

Touring models, meanwhile, carry a premium of around £2,200 over the saloon, so a 520i SE Touring will cost from £39,730. The plug-in hybrid 530e Touring starts from £51,380.

The new 5 Series is due on sale in July, although there’s no word yet from BMW on whether deliveries may slip slightly due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Do you like the look of the updated BMW 5 Series? Let us know your thoughts below…

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