Discerning Hong Kong drivers in the market for a new vehicle might be tempted to visit the nearest BMW dealership after seeing the carmaker’s new 5 Series.
The recent Hong Kong debut of the 540i, 530i and 520d caught the attention of serious drivers, who like the fact that these models have incorporated features and technology from the higher-end 7 Series cars.
Starting at the top of the line is the 540i xDrive Saloon M Sport Edition. At its heart lies the superbly engineered 3-litre turbocharged in-line 6-cylinder petrol engine. Some might say 3 litres is a bit excessive for Hong Kong roads, but others might not be able to resist the temptation.
In the areas of luxurious cabin layout, noise exclusion and spaciousness, it is hard to beat. Some of the new features, like the xDrive steering system and four-zone climate control, can be tailored to local driving conditions.
You’d be hard-pressed to hit the top speed of 250kph, but the reassurance of having that kind of power under the bonnet when you need it is not to be sniffed at. Let’s face it: some drivers just want the best.
For eco-conscious drivers, another major consideration is one’s carbon footprint. These drivers are not only concerned about the cost of driving in terms of fuel consumption, but also the cost to the environment. With the M Sport, the 4 percent drop in fuel consumption and 5 percent drop in carbon emissions are steps in the right direction for drivers and the environment.
As with all modern cars, safety features abound. Traffic-savvy drivers might consider these features to be of minor significance, but if you pause to consider the probability of a less experienced driver crossing your path, such automatic warning systems start to sound all the more appealing.
Naturally, it’s a boon to new drivers, too. A youngster backing into a tight parking spot on Lockhart Road might not have to learn the hard way if an alarm alerts him to the lamp post he’s about to strike.
Safety features include various lane-change and braking warnings, as well as collision alerts and prevention systems.
The vehicle’s ability to sense other cars and pedestrians, issue warnings and even influence the car’s behaviour could be reassuring under difficult driving conditions.
With Hong Kong’s often extreme weather and colourful but chaotic nightscape, visibility is also a key factor in ensuring a safe and enjoyable driving experience.
Advanced technology in LED headlight production, narrow profile window pillars and a simple, efficient layout in the full-featured dashboard make all of the models in this range easy on the neck and on the eyes.
Everything mentioned so far is simply more of the same BMW engineering genius we’ve grown to love, but better. Not so, however, with the revolutionary xDrive system.
The four-wheel steering control system is a first for the 5 Series, and it might just make the M Sport a must-have model for Hong Kong drivers. The xDrive system has modes that allow the car to be steered using both front and rear wheels.
In the mode intended for low-speed driving and parking, the wheels are turned in opposite directions, allowing far greater manoeuvrability and a reduced turning radius. This could make owning a large vehicle much less of a liability when it comes to squeezing into those tight parking spots.
The other steering mode, intended for high-speed motorway driving, does the opposite – the wheels steer in the same direction. This gives the vehicle the ability to glide between lanes on the motorway without actually changing its heading, thereby enhancing mirror visibility and stability at high speeds.
In terms of styling and trim the M Sport Edition offers an aerodynamic exterior – large air intakes, side skirt trim, a diffuser-style rear apron and two impressive rectangular exhaust pipes that emit the kind of attention-getting sound you’d expect from a luxury sports car.
The low-profile suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels complete the look. Alacantara seat covers, aluminium pedals, a leather steering wheel and magnificent attention to detail on the interior trim complete the picture for high-end luxury sports motoring.
Heading down the range to the more economical models released in Hong Kong, the 530i drops its engine size to 2 litres, while still providing a top speed of 250kph and accelerating from 0-100kph in 6.2 seconds.
Even more impressive are the 25 percent drops in both fuel consumption and carbon emissions, making the car economical to both run and tax.
Available in two varieties – Luxury and Sport – the model includes many of the high-grade trim and styling components of the M Sport Edition, and both are clearly luxury cars by
Aimed at the business market, the Luxury version’s features include chromed kidney grilles, “Air-Breather” window surrounds and light-alloy wheels. Nappa leather seats with contrast stitching and special decorative in-lays top off the impressively refined and spacious interior.
The Sports version of the 530i offers trim elements in high gloss black and 18-inch light-alloy wheels in a bi-colour polished finish. Dakota leather sport seats with refined interior trim contribute to the car’s opulence and classic sportiness. Illuminated aluminium door sills complete the high-end look.
The third car in the line-up of Hong Kong releases, the 520d, also comes in Sports and Luxury versions. The main difference with this model is the employment of a 2-litre diesel engine, and BMW is marketing this model as the ultimate in fuel efficiency and low emissions.
With a top speed of 235kph and a sprint of 0-100kph in 7.5 seconds, BMW has produced a car that still manages an impressive performance while offering a generous pay-off in fuel efficiency and low emissions.
Fuel consumption comes in at 4.5-4.1 litres per 100km, compared to 5.9-5.5 for the 530i. Comparative CO2 emissions are 126-136g/km for the 530i and 108-118g/km for the diesel.
For all the models, performance, road handling, suspension and comfort are above and beyond the world-class standard we have come to expect from BMW, while still remaining easy to drive. As expected, different priorities result in the distinctive characters of the Sports and Luxury versions.
All in all, the German manufacturer’s latest offerings are impressive. Comparing favourably with other models such as the Audi A6, Jaguar XF and Mercedes E-Class, the new additions to the BMW 5 Series might very well feel at home on the streets of Hong Kong.
Text: Clive Keep