BMW 5-series scooped (2009)

Published: 04 January 2008

The next round of post-Bangle BMWs is well under way – and now we’ve caught the first new 5-series prototypes out on test. Under the swathes of black cladding, riveted dummy panels and false grilles disguising this test car lies the replacement Five that rolls into showrooms in 2009.

Our spyshots reveal a very short front overhang and long wheelbase to eke out extra inches for limbs and luggage – but there are few major changes distinguishable from the outline of this prototype. Munich sources confirm that the design of the new 5-series won’t be anywhere near as radical as today’s E60. That car was a harbinger of leftfield Bangle design, and one of the most successful of the original flame-surfacing cars, CAR reckons.

Cautious design, radical underneath

So the design of the new Five won’t shock as much as products unleashed on BMW buyers back in the early Noughties. Expect a dose of Concept CS style, especially in the front end treatment. The designers are making more use of LED lighting systems, which will increasingly change the face of BMWs. A new type of ‘eyebrow’ LED is likely to wrap around the top of the headlamp.

However, most of the innovation will be under the skin, BMW engineers working hard to improve the Five’s cutting-edge handling and performance on the one hand, and making sure it meets the necessary green credentials on the other.

The new 5-series grows marginally to a smidge under five metres in length, but the Bavarians will use some aluminium in the construction to keep the mass low. However, the main news on the eco front is the adoption of BMW’s Efficient Dynamics, winner of CAR’s green gong in our Car of the Year awards 2007. This clever tech will be standard on most models, cutting the engine when idling at standstill and disconnecting the alternator when the battery is fully charged, lowering fuel consumption and emissions. Why is the system so clever? Because it’ll be standard-fit on most models, you won’t have to pay extra for it, and it works seamlessly in the background. It’s an excellent example of jump-in-and-forget tech.

Engines and tech

Many of the Five’s engines will be carried over from today’s model, but there is a new 4.4-litre V8 engine fitted with direct injection and turbo for an output of more than 400bhp – and a hybrid system is under development with GM and Daimler. The anticipated engine range includes:

3.0si 306bhp/307lb ft
4.0si 408bhp/460lb ft
5.0 V10 500bhp/384lb ft

3.0d 245bhp/422lb ft
3.0sd, 300bhp/500lb ft

We also hear that the six-speed auto ’box will be replaced with a new high-efficiency transmission offering eight forward ratios. And the new 5-series can be fitted with various driver assistance extras like active steering, lane guidance, adaptive cruise control, automatic performance control and dynamic drive.

The new 5-series is being designed by new styling chief Adrian van Hooydonk, working under design director Chris Bangle. And this one will be joined by the new PAS, a new, roomy super-sized 5-series Touring on stilts.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet