BMW 5-Series

Our BMW's wide range of high-tech gadgets ease the stress of getting the big saloon out of tight parking spots.

I’VE been in some tight spots in my time. Sitting in the ‘wrong end’ with rival supporters at an FA Cup Final rates as one of the more uncomfortable experiences! Having the door of a car coming towards me fly open at 60mph is another unforgettable bum-clencher...

Not as heart-stopping, but nonetheless frustrating, are those moments when you return to your car to find you have been ‘bumper’ parked by other drivers. If you’re lucky, a seemingly endless series of clutch-burning shunts forward and back eventually releases you. If you are not so fortunate, a dull thud informs you that you have just hit the car in front/behind.

Anything which solves this problem has to be a good thing. And BMW’s optional Integral Active Steering system is a very, very good thing. It allows the rear wheels to turn at low speeds; brilliant for manoeuvring a car as  long as the new 5-Series into and out of the tightest parking spots. Combined with the optional Reversing Assist and Surround-view cameras dotted around the exterior, the system makes driving our long-term BMW 535i a doddle.

Good job, too, because the new 5 is a much larger model than the old one. In fact, many people who have commented on the car have taken it for its big brother, the 7.  The 535i’s sleek styling beautifully disguises the limo-like space inside the cabin and in the boot.

With nearly 8,000 miles now on the clock, the Beemer has sampled plenty of high-speed motorway trips as well as crawls through the centre of London during the recent  Tube strikes, plus visits to load up at the supermarket and DIY superstore.

It’s also been enjoyed by other members of the AE team, including our road testers. And thanks to still more clever technology – this time the Adaptive Drive system – it has handled the lot perfectly.

Adaptive Drive allows you to switch between four settings: Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport +. Each tailors the car’s responses and handling to how you want to drive at the time, from lazy cruising to seat-of-the pants performance.

All this tech doesn’t come cheap, of course – the systems mentioned here add more than £4,000 to the cost of the standard 5. But when you’re in a tight spot, you can’t put a price on freedom!

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