New BMW 5-series: 482bhp 550e hybrid announced
The eighth-generation 5-series has arrived with electrified engines and a bold 7-series inspired interior, with the first-ever hybrid M5 arriving later
BMW has become known for its divisive, convention-breaking models as of late, but it hasn’t turned its back on the cars that have built the brand over the decades. Meet the new 5-series: the consummate executive saloon is undergoing significant changes in its eighth generation, with hybrid power available across the board and pure-electric i5 variants offered for the first time ever. A plug-in hybrid M5 will arrive later, but as of now, the range is headed by a 482bhp 550e xDrive model.
On the surface, BMW has stayed true to the traditional three-box formula with the new 5-series, with few – if any – daring design elements. The chiselled front end shares much with the latest 3-series, and the kidney grilles rise above the bonnet line as in the M3 and M4. The surfacing along the rest of the car is neater than before, with flush-fitting door handles, a sloping boot lid and a closed-off underbody contributing to a drag coefficient of just 0.23.
The new 5-series is built around BMW’s CLAR architecture, which enables both combustion engine and pure electric powertrains in saloon and Touring estate body styles – the latter of which will arrive in spring 2024. The mild-hybrid 520i is the cheapest version available at £51,000, sitting below the plug-in hybrid 530e and 550e xDrive which cost £59,455 and £76,605 respectively.
With a 2-litre four-cylinder unit supplemented by a 48V starter-generator, the 520i sends 205bhp and 243lb ft of torque to the rear wheels for a 0-62mph time of 7.5sec – four tenths quicker than the outgoing G30 model. The engine is mated to an eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox, which has been optimised for smoothness with a new torsional damping system.
The 530e and 550e xDrive both use an electric motor integrated into the eight-speed transmission, which is powered by a 19.4kWh battery. In the 530e, the motor is paired with a two-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine for combined outputs of 295bhp and 332lb ft of torque, enabling a 0-62mph sprint of 6.3 seconds.
The 550e, meanwhile, uses a 3-litre straight-six petrol engine for a significant uplift in power and torque, generating 482bhp and 516lb ft. Thanks to BMW's xDrive four-wheel drive system, the 550e can launch from 0-62mph in just 4.3sec. From a full battery, the 530e can drive up to 62 miles on electric power alone, with the 550e achieving 56 miles. Top speed is pegged at 87mph in both models when driving in electric mode.
Of course, the M5 will live on the new 5-series lineup – only this time with a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the first time ever when it launches next year. BMW's super saloon has undergone significant character changes with the previous two generations, with the F10 model switching to turbocharging in 2011 and the outgoing F90 adopting four wheel drive; in the case of the latter, we saw the most exciting M5 yet in the form of the CS. BMW hopes to build on this with the next iteration, which will borrow its 4.4-litre twin turbo V8 hybrid setup from the XM.
While the XM hasn't captured the essence of the firm's greatest M cars, its powertrain should provide suitably ballistic performance in the lower, lighter M5. It's likely that BMW will forgo the standard XM's 644bhp state of tune, given that the next Mercedes E63 is tipped to have over 700bhp (the C63 S E Performance already generates 670bhp). The 737bhp XM Label Red is a more likely candidate to supply the M5's powertrain.
Using double wishbones at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear, the new 5-series gains a suite of sophisticated chassis technology that includes a variable ratio and speed-sensitive steering rack and optional rear wheel steering, which can swivel the back wheels by up to 2.5 degrees. Four-wheel drive xDrive variants receive a strengthening plate beneath the front axle that improves body rigidity, with adaptive dampers and larger alloy wheels up to 21-inches (19-inch items are standard) available at extra cost. The flagship 550e receives four-wheel steering and adaptive dampers as standard as part of the Adaptive Chassis Professional pack.
The cabin of the new 5-series takes heavy inspiration from the 7-series limo, with an ‘interaction bar’ lighting array embedded with touch-sensitive climate controls. A curved free-standing display panel, comprising a 12.3-inch digital dash and 14.9-inch touchscreen, also features, running BMW’s iDrive 8.5 system.
As the newest iteration of the software, iDrive 8.5 offers video streaming, BMW’s latest Intelligent Personal Assistant and a smartphone-controlled gaming system. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also equipped as standard, while over-the-air update capability should bring improved functionality throughout the car’s lifecycle.