2021 BMW 5 Series revealed: price, specs and release date
Our favourite luxury car, the BMW 5 Series, has a new look and now combines a more generous standard spec with improved efficiency, yet prices have fallen. Is there a catch?...
On sale July 2020 | Price from £37,480
The BMW 5 Series is one of those rare things: a car that's always at or very near the top of its class. Indeed, in its various forms it's won more What Car? awards than any other model, and it’s the only car that's ever received a lifetime achievement award from us.
Part of the reason for this sustained success is BMW's habit of updating the 5 Series before it really needs to. And so even though the latest version remains our favourite luxury saloon, it's no surprise that it's been given refreshed looks and additional technology.
Perhaps the most obvious change is at the front, where the grille has been enlarged in an effort to make the car appear more imposing. But, fortunately, it stops short of being oversized – unlike the one on the latest 7 Series limo, which just reminds you of a child wearing their dad's clothes.
You also get wider and taller vents in the front bumper, whether you stick with entry-level SE trim or upgrade to M Sport. Plus, LED lights are standard front and rear, and the options list includes super-bright laser headlights that increase the range of illumination to 600 metres and bring distinctive, L-shaped daytime running lights.
The bigger is better theme continues on the inside, where a 12.3in infotainment screen replaces the old 10.25in unit. This is allied to a faster operating system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring and, for the first time in a BMW, remote software updates.
Elsewhere, the list of standard equipment now includes power folding door mirrors, electrically adjustable lumbar support on the front seats, and a Parking Assistant system, which can steer the car into spaces for you and reverse it distances of up to 50 metres.
This comes on top of leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, ambient interior lighting, a DAB radio, sat-nav and cruise control. Meanwhile, M Sport cars get sportier details such as bigger wheels, black rather than chrome exterior trim and a dark roof lining.
To start with, there will also be a new M Sport Edition variant (limited to 1000 cars globally), featuring bespoke 20in alloy wheels in place of the regular M Sport’s standard 18s, a boot spoiler, tinted glass and two paint colours that aren’t available on lesser versions of the 5 Series: Tanzanite Blue and Donington Grey. However, you’ll have to be a big fan of one of these to justify the £3500 premium over the regular M Sport.
After fitting an efficiency-enhancing mild hybrid system to the 520d diesel last year, BMW has now added this to most of the other conventional engines as well; the exception is the 523bhp 4.4-litre V8 in a new M550i performance model, which accelerates from 0-62mph in 3.8sec.
Alternatively, if you're more concerned about lowering your tax bill, there's a new six-cylinder 545e plug-in hybrid saloon, which will be sold alongside the existing four-cylinder 530e. And from November, both will be joined by a 530e version of the Touring estate. BMW is still to confirm how clean this or the 545e will be, but the 530e Touring should match the 41-mile electric-only range of the saloon, while the 545e is capable of 35 miles of zero-emissions driving between charges.
Prices have actually fallen slightly, with the cheapest model – the 520i SE – now costing £37,480, and our favoured 520d SE coming in at £38,500. Both should be available with sizeable discounts from the word go, too, if you use our online New Car Buying service.
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