by Karl Furlong
The first-ever BMW 5 Series was introduced way back in 1972, before the 3 Series, 7 Series, and every other major BMW nameplate that still exists today. A case could be made for the 3.0 CSL nameplate being just as old, but the new 3.0 CSL is a niche product priced way out of reach of the average Joe. We don't have to tell you how much has changed in the intervening 50 or so years since that first Five arrived, as the eighth generation 5 Series introduced here does a perfectly good job of that by itself.
This is the first 5 Series ever to spawn an all-electric version known as the i5, a model that we review in greater detail separately. For the purposes of this First Look review, we'll focus on the gas-powered 530i and 540i, along with all the other changes that BMW hopes will keep its mid-size sedan relevant. That includes a restyled body, a more comfortable interior, and state-of-the-art driver-assistance technologies like active lane changes that can be commanded simply via eye activation.
See trim levels and configurations:
Not all variants of the fresh sedan will be coming out at the same time. The release date for the BMW 5 Series globally will take place in October 2023, which is when we expect the first models to land in the USA. However, production of the 540i xDrive is only beginning in November 2023, and a plug-in hybrid model will arrive next year. The two fully electric i5 models are expected to be available at launch.
The 2024 5 Series will be available in 530i, 530i xDrive, and 540i xDrive variants as before. It appears that the rear-wheel-drive 540i and powerful V8 M550i have been discontinued, however. Completing the lineup are the i5 eDrive40 and i5 M60 xDrive models.
Fortunately, the base price of the 2024 BMW 5 Series sedan hasn't increased too much, with the 530i starting at an MSRP of $57,900; this is $1,900 more than the 2023 530i. The 530i xDrive will cost $60,200 and the 540i xDrive goes for $64,900. In fact, the new 540i xDrive is now $300 cheaper than the equivalent outgoing model. At $66,800, the i5 eDrive40 could easily tempt buyers away from the 530i xDrive as it's not all that pricier, while the i5 M60 xDrive is the most expensive at $84,100. All these prices exclude a destination charge of $995.
Mercedes-Benz only recently revealed an all-new E-Class, and this will once again be one of the main rivals for the 5 Series. We expect it to cost around $61k in base format, although pricing still has to be confirmed. Both the 5 Series and the E-Class will be a generation ahead of the Audi A6 when they arrive.
The exterior of the new BMW 5 Series sedan has thankfully not succumbed to the enormous nostrils of the latest 7 Series. Through most of its changes in design language, the latest 5 Series has struck a fine balance between the sportiness of the 3 Series and the gravitas of the 7 Series, and that mostly continues this time around. The pictures here are of the 5 Series we viewed at Villa d'Este; BMW has not yet shared press images of the gas-only mild hybrid models, but there are subtle differences between it and the i5, as with the new 7 Series and i7.
New signature twin LED headlights are found on either side of the grille, and these have almost vertical LED elements on the outside that serve as daytime running lights. As for the BMW kidney grille, it has been inspired by the Sharknose of early 5 Series models, and it projects forward in a similar fashion. The contour line of the grille can be illuminated optionally.
From the side, the car's long hood and upright grille are prevalent, as are the dual character lines, flush-fitting door handles, and the black side skirts that contrast with the rest of the body. A new interpretation of the Hofmeister kink now comes with a graphic element with the number '5' integrated into the side window surround in the vicinity of the kink.
The rear features L-shaped lights with four narrow LED strips set horizontally - a modern look, but perhaps not as impactful as the front of the car. While 19-inch light alloy wheels are standard, optional 20- and 21-inch wheels are available either with mixed performance or all-season non-runflat tires. A tilt-and-slide moonroof is standard, but BMW's snazzy Panoramic Sky Lounge roof is available for the first time on the 5 Series. Its viewing area is nearly 90% larger than that of the standard moonroof, being 33 inches long and 32 inches wide.
On lower trims, the M Sport Package adds M Sport Brakes with blue calipers, Shadowline exterior trim, and M Sport design elements. The i5 M60 also comes with a standard M Sport Package.
Colors for the BMW 5 Series range will consist of a single solid finish, nine metallics, and three BMW Individual finishes. Those Individual shades also include two Frozen paints that will likely carry the highest cost. However, the full color palette remains unknown at this stage.
Enlarged BMW 5 Series dimensions have contributed to a more comfortable rear seat. The eighth-generation model is longer by 3.4 inches, with the length being 199.2 inches. That has allowed for the wheelbase to be increased by 0.8 inches for a total of 117.9. The width is now 74.8 inches (up by 1.3 inches) and the height is 59.6 inches (+1.4 inches).
All of this has resulted in an even heavier car than before, with the base 530i coming in at 4,041 pounds; this is 258 lbs more than the equivalent older model. The 530i xDrive weighs 4,158 lbs, but the specs aren't yet available for the 540i. Naturally, the fully electric i5s are the heaviest, topping out at 5,247 lbs for the M60 xDrive.
This will be the most diverse powertrain lineup for the 5 Series ever. It starts with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine in the 530i and 530i xDrive, which now produces 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque - fairly modest increases of 7 hp and 38 lb-ft. The performance is very much on par with the lighter outgoing model, with the 0-60 mph time being 5.9 seconds for the 530i RWD and 5.8 seconds for the 530i xDrive all-wheel drive.
The 540i has seen greater gains, with its revised 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six mill now making 375 hp and 384 lb-ft, increases of 40 hp and 52 lb-ft, respectively. For brief periods, peak torque is 398 lb-ft thanks to this powertrain's 48-volt mild hybrid system, so with xDrive AWD, the 540i will hit 60 in 4.5 seconds. Although the 530i models also have a mild hybrid system, BMW makes no mention of this contributing to an increase in torque for these versions.
We cover the i5 twins in more detail in our dedicated i5 review, but the quickest version of the mid-size BMW is the M60 which can reach 60 in just 3.7 seconds. The i5 eDrive 40 with RWD needs 5.7 seconds to do the same. A top speed of 155 mph is on the cards for gas models with performance tires, but the i5 eDrive40 can only reach 120 mph. As before, all gas 5 Series models use an eight-speed automatic Steptronic transmission with shift paddles for manual control.
The flexible architecture of the latest 5 Series is the foundation for refined sportiness regardless of which model you choose. A longer wheelbase and increased track widths, along with the almost ideal 50:50 weight distribution that has long been a hallmark of sporty BMW sedans, should serve the new 5 well. The double-wishbone front axle and five-link rear axle have been extensively developed, and all Fives now come with the latest electromechanical power steering as standard with a variable ratio.
A new innovation is near-actuator wheel slip limitation that integrates the traction control into the engine control unit. This allows the dynamic stability control system to intervene 10 times as quickly as conventional systems, thereby improving traction and agility.
The i5 models also come with stroke-dependent control of the dampers on each axle, said to lower bouncing and rocking of the car's body, while the top i5 M60 has the Adaptive M Suspension Professional with electronically controlled dampers as standard, along with rear-wheel steering.
Official gas mileage ratings for the 530i and 540i haven't been published yet, but we expect these BMW 5 Series engine options to once again return a perfect combination of efficiency and performance. In the seventh-generation 5 Series, the 530i returns 28 mpg combined, dropping to 26 mpg combined for the 530i xDrive, while the 540i xDrive managed 25 mpg combined.
The upgraded engines with mild hybrid technology should be similarly efficient, although they do have to motivate a car that has grown in size and increased in weight.
Interestingly, the new Five's gas tank is smaller by over two gallons at 15.9 gallons - could this be an indication that efficiency has improved to the extent that BMW could save some space with a smaller tank? That remains to be seen.
As for the i5, that has an estimated range of between 256 and 295 miles on a full charge thanks to the high-voltage battery with a capacity of 84.3 kWh. A maximum charging rate of 205 kW applies to this model.
The interior of the BMW 5 Series is as high-tech and luxurious as expected, and it introduces several of the innovations first seen on the new 7 Series such as the BMW Interaction Bar that is available on lower trims and standard on the i5 variants. Customers coming from older 5 Series models may find the reduction in physical buttons and controls to be a bit overwhelming at first.
As standard, the sedan comes with the BMW Curved Display which combines the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with a 14.9-inch Control Display, both merged into a single unit. BMW Operating System 8.5 is the latest generation of the brand's iDrive software, and various functions can be accessed by either vertically swiping between widgets or swiping horizontally to bring up different content.
Despite the average age of buyers in this segment being some way over 25 years, both BMW and Mercedes have seen fit to incorporate technologies that seem more in tune with a much younger generation. In the case of the new E-Class, that's TikTok integration and a selfie camera, and the new Five is fighting back with an in-car gaming setup in collaboration with AirConsole. Accessible via the AirConsole app, a QR code and a smartphone is all that the driver and front-seat passenger need to start gaming and access new games over-the-air. Racing, sports, and quiz games will all be available.
We expect that more BMW 5 Series customers will be interested in the new seats, which are said to offer more comfort and adjustment than before. Multi-contour seats are optional on 530i models but standard on the top i5.
Perforated Veganza upholstery is an alternative to leather. This material can extend to the dashboard and door panels so that the entire cabin becomes a leather-free environment. However, customers not prepared to make this switch just yet can still opt for extended Merino leather. With the M Sport Package, the seats in the BMW 5 Series are finished in a mix of Veganza and Alcantara, and M-specific graphics are found on the displays. Second-row shoulder comfort is enhanced by outer rear seats with backrests that extend deep into the door areas.
Standard equipment on the base model includes a moonroof, sport seats, a lane-keeping assistant, exit warning, speed limit info, wireless device charging, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. A parking assistant and a premium Harman Kardon sound system are also equipped.
A new Highway Assistant allows for hands-free driving at speeds of up to 85 mph while an interior camera monitors the driver's attentiveness. Perhaps one of the most interesting pieces of technology is the active lane change function that can be controlled by eye activation alone. If the vehicle suggests a lane change, the driver can confirm the maneuver by merely looking at the relevant rearview mirror. This eliminates the need to use the turn signal, but it remains to be seen how natural the feature feels.
In gas models, the cargo space inside the BMW 5 Series works out to 18.4 cubic feet, or just a little less - 17.3 cubes, to be exact - in the i5 variants. A 40:20:40 folding rear seatback further enhances the sedan's practicality.
The most popular competitors of 2024 BMW 5 Series Sedan: