Frugal three-cylinder engines, a 600bhp M5, and the ability to drive itself – the next BMW 5-series will offer something for everyone, even those people who don’t like driving.
Codenamed G30, the sixth generation of BMW’s exec saloon arrives in summer 2016. Bookended by a 5-series Gran Turismo that spring (yes, BMW is having a second go at the hippopotamus-arsed hatch-cum-limo) and a Touring estate in the autumn, the saloon will adopt an all-new platform packed with technology.
Called ‘35up’ it sounds like a new soft drink, but designates that everything from the 3- and 5-series up (including the next 6- and 7-series) will use this rear- and four-wheel-drive components set. The platform mixes high-strength steel, aluminium and carbonfibre to drop around 80kg from today’s 5-series.
The M5 sheds even more weight (we hear a whopping 180kg) and with an uprated 600bhp version of the current 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, and the option of four-wheel drive for the first time, performance should be ferocious.
The reduced mass also enables lesser 5-series to employ three-cylinder power, with a 1.5-litre turbocharged diesel powering the entry-level 518d. Producing 150bhp, Munich insiders claim that it can achieve a staggering 72.7mpg – 2.1mpg up on today’s most fuel-efficient 5-series.
BMW is grouping 500cc cylinders together to create three-, four- and six-pot engines, with 60% common parts. A 2.0-litre four-cylinder will power the 520d and 231bhp 525d, while the leading petrol four is a 272bhp 528i. Engine size dictates which suspensions slot into place: smaller-engined 5-series share front axles with the next 3-series, but go for a six- or eight-cylinder 5-series and you’ll get the front axle from the next 7-series instead.
Despite the downsizing trend, lovers of the BMW straight-six will still have plenty of choice: 333bhp 530i and 375bhp 540i petrols; and a 286bhp 530d, 333bhp 535d or 400bhp M550d with no fewer than four turbochargers.
Hybrid versions of the 5-series will be offered too, including a plug-in version that lowers its charge adapter to a garage floor-mounted plate for inductive charging.
The new Five is also so high-tech that it will not only park itself, but change lanes and overtake on the driver’s behalf. It’ll use radar-based cruise control to stay in its lane, detect a car ahead, and signal before pulling out and passing that dawdling Luddite.
The 5-series’ electronic architecture is also future-proofed thanks to remote updates – but as with your iPhone it’ll be updating itself every day and you’ll pay extra for the rumoured Autonomous Tailgating app.