Car review: BMW 5 Series

Welcome to the brave new world of self-driving cars. Soon we won't be needed behind the wheel, says Matthew Gwyther

by Matthew Gwyther
Last Updated: 27 Jul 2017

We all know that drivers are now well on the way to becoming redundant. We're irrational, unreliable, prone to error - sometimes even rash behaviour - while behind the wheel. So, the responsibility of driving is slowly but gradually being taken away from us and handed to silicon wafers and the cloud.

This BMW gives an early taste of things to come with autonomous driving. You can sit at 70 mph on a motorway, take your hands from the wheel and it will drive itself, scanning the white lines to either side as well as the car in front. The act requires a little nerve to perform at first and your passengers are likely to grip their seat edge. Such are the current complex legalities of handing over control to a computer, your 'Look! No hands' stunts only last for 20 seconds or so before you have to touch the steering wheel again.

'Doing it yourself driving' is slowly being taken away from us. For the first time ever you cannot even buy this car with a manual gearbox, although you can select an option which will give you a choice of eight different back massage programmes, each with a choice of three intensity modes. The key fob is huge and includes a button you can push, once outside the car, to make it park itself.

The 5 Series has always been a pretty complete car, and one that is, despite all this tech, really good to drive oneself. When each new version emerges, a car magazine will conduct a weepy comparison of all seven iterations since 1972.

So the Fiver has topped the executive class segment for four decades - it handles beautifully, is perfectly comfortable and is easy to use. If you want to drive it quickly then it will still oblige by doing The Ultimate Driving Machine thing, although there is something unseemly about chucking around a luxury vehicle, which is now hardly distinguishable from the 7 Series limo favoured by Mayfair Middle Eastern hedgie types.

And then one has to come to the cost. This model has an initial on the road price of £49,265, but once you've added all those irresistible extras comes out at an unnerving £66,150. But hey. You could get it on the never-never for £450 a month. Everyone else does these days. And in three years' time you can hand it back and buy one that lets you 'drive' for half an hour while asleep on the back seat. That's progress.


BMW G30 530d xDrive M Sport Saloon

Price: £66,150 as tested

Engine: B57 3.0 litre

Transmission: Automatic

Fuel consumption: 53.2 mpg (combined cycle)

CO2 emissions: 138g/km

Power: 261 bhp/265 PS/195kW @4,000rpm

0-62 mph: 5.4 seconds

Top speed: 155 mph.

Image credit: BMW


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