BMW’s Fives get mid-life makeoverComment on this story
Sometimes BMW's 5 Series can get a little lost in the grey area between the sporty threes and the magnificent sevens - although more than million have been sold of the current generation alone.
But it's still nice to see that the Bavarian whitecoats have given the 5 Series a pretty comprehensive mid-life makeover, with more distinctive styling, new engine variants, and new high-tech features for a bit of extra 'wow' factor.
The revised 5 Series is due for South African release in October 2013.
The sedan and station wagon get new contour lines around the kidney grille and reshaped lower air intakes to make them look more sporty, with slimmer, more sharply contoured tail lights and an extra crease in the apron to make the car's rear end look wider.
The Gran Turismo gets a deeper front apron and a chromed strip across the rear apron to make it look longer and lower to the ground, with a three-dimensional surface design to give some depth to the area around the number-plate.
The indicator repeaters are now in the mirror housings and xenon headlights are now standard across the range, with adaptive LED headlights and LED foglights available as options.
Inside, there's a new chromed trim around iDrive control display, while both the glove compartment and cup holders are bigger - as is the boot on Gran Turismo - thanks to that model's revised tail end it has grown by 50 litres to 500 litres.
All the engines offered in the 5 Series have been tweaked to improve their fuel efficiency without sacrificing power - in fact says BMW, some have even gained power while conforming to the EU6 emissions standard that's not due to take effect until September 2014. Which is why all BMW 5 Series diesels now come with nitrogen oxide-reducing BluePerformance as standard.
Brake energy regeneration, idle stop (with manual or eight-speed auto transmission), optimum shift indicator and Eco Pro mode are all standard across the range; also available are a coasting mode (which disengages the powertrain), proactive driving assistant to adjust the car's speed ahead of a change in speed limit, and the Eco Pro route function, as part of the optional Professional navigation system.
There's also a new, entry-level four-cylinder diesel, the Twinpower turbo 518d, for the sedan and Touring variants. BMW quotes 105kW at a cost of 4.5 litres per 100km and CO2 emissions of 119 grams per kilometre - but it won't be coming to South Africa.
The top-of-the-line engine is a new V8 Twinpower turbo for which BMW claims 330kW, bring the range available for the BMW 5 Series sedan and Touring to four petrol engines and six diesels - including two M Performance models - the M550d xDrive sedan and Touring.
Gran Turismo 5 Series customers can choose from two petrol engines and three diesels.
The energy management system of the ActiveHybrid 5 has also been tweaked with a new version of the proactive driving assistant which now adapts the power balance between combustion engine and electric motor to the route ahead.
The Touring and Gran Turismo now come with air suspension and automatic rear self-levelling as standard.
The function of the optional comfort access system, which allows the tailgate to be opened hands-free, has been extended to include a closing mechanism, and there's a rear-seat entertainment system with tablet-style displays, a Harman Kardon surround sound system and a new version of the ambient light option that allows the interior lighting to be either orange or qwhite.
A new iDrive controller with a touch-sensitive surface now allows the use of characters to program in a destination or access other functions.
The night vision system now human and animal detection and the dynamic light spot function and, November 2013, the optional traffic jam assistant will automatically keeps the car in the same lane, even when the road bends around a corner.
It's part of the driving assistant plus option, which also includes active cruise control with idle stop and collision warning with braking function. Also available for the sedan and Touring from November 2013 will be a fully automatic parking assistant.