For a luxuriously comfy ride
It has been a while since I last tested a BMW and every time I do, I am amazed at how many more advanced products have been added, and as usual I was not disappointed. My test car was one of the newest and most advanced cars on the BMW fleet – the 540i xDrive, an all-wheel drive (AWD) six-cylinder twin turbo with an increase of 35 horsepower over last year’s model.
For 2017, the 5-series is an all-new body design. Compared to the previous model, this one is a little softer allowing for better aero dynamics. I have to admit I personally like this model over last year’s 5-series. As this car caters a little more to comfort, entering and exiting the new car is easy for most people despite their height. Getting into the back seat area is not too bad either, as the new rear slop of the roof does not get in the way. Back seat room is good for two people, but can carry three if needed. The new design also incorporates even more trunk space allowing for four sets of golf clubs or 1.7 cubic meters of space.
As you might expect from BMW, the interior is very modern and up to date. The large tach and speedometer are front and centre with smaller fuel and temperature gauges flanking each side, all easy to read at a glance. My test car featured the optional heads-up display that projected your speed up on the windshield. Surprisingly it was not as distracting as some units I have had in other cars over the years. This feature also has a host of other functions including interacting with the navigation, so you don’t have to look away from the road.
Once inside, all controls are easily accessible with your right hand, so your hand is only off the steering wheel for a moment. One big improvement I found over the previous models is that the controls are well-marked and easier to find and use. To the right of the automatic shifter is a dial that controls all the setting on the centre screen for navigation and sound system, plus a host of other items. What is nice is that the heater/cooling and environmental controls are all separate in the lower centre dash and again easy to use. The sound system even has buttons for pre-set radio stations.
Power for the test 540i AWD comes from a double overhead cam inline turbo charged 6-cylinder engine with 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque which gives the car a 0 to 100 kilometres per house time of just 4.8 seconds. Considering this is a four-door sedan that weighs in at 1,759 kilograms, that is pretty amazing. The transmission is an eight-speed automatic that can be operated with the centre console shifter or paddles on the steering wheel.
Depending on your frame of mind the car can be set on sport, comfort or economy for different types of driving. As you might suspect the sport setting enhances performance as well as stiffening of the suspension. The comfort and default setting is for normal driving and the economy setting allows the engine to sip fuel. I have to admit the fuel economy on the highway was nothing short of great with a true 7.8 L per 100 kilometres.
I have to admit I really enjoyed my time with the 540i, it was comfortable, handled very well, felt very nimble, and was easy to drive. Options like night vision and self-parking while out of the car also added to the enjoyment of this vehicle. If I were in the market for a car in field, the 540i would be a top contender, and at a base price of $69,000 and a test price of $90,400 the buyer gets plenty of value for the money.
MSRP: $69,000, Price as Tested: $90,400
Motor: 2-litre four-cylinder turbo direct injection
Horsepower: 335 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 332 @ 1332 rpm
Layout: All-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 11.4 L/100 km, city 7.8 L/100 km highway