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[Test Drive] BMW 5 Series makes more powerful, elegant comeback

Beloved luxury sedan makes global debut in Korea, one of the top markets

By Byun Hye-jin

Published : Oct. 8, 2023 - 14:31

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New 5 Series’ electric (left) and gasoline-powered models (BMW Korea) New 5 Series’ electric (left) and gasoline-powered models (BMW Korea)

BMW’s 5 Series, one of the bestselling premium sedans in Korea, has returned with full-change upgrades in design and driving performance, making its global debut in the country in six years.

The 5 Series has sold over 8 million units worldwide since its launch of the first generation model in 1972. Korea, in particular, has shown great enthusiasm for the high-end sedan, taking approximately 20 percent of total sales last year, according to the German carmaker.

“We know how important the 5 Series is for our customers in Korea,” said Adrian Van Hooydonk, BMW Group’s design director, during a press conference in Incheon on Thursday, adding that the new lineup has grown in size with more interior space, catering to the needs of the company’s sedan lovers here.

Stressing that the eighth-generation 5 Series boasts a sporty and elegant exterior and driver-oriented interior, Van Hooydonk said the 5 Series takes after the family design of the BMW, however, offers strong individual characters like longer driving range.

The interior of the gasoline-powered New 530i xDrive (Byun Hye-jin/The Korea Herald) The interior of the gasoline-powered New 530i xDrive (Byun Hye-jin/The Korea Herald)

A test drive of the BMW’s New 530i xDrive, the gasoline model of the new 5 Series, was conducted last week from Incheon to Seoul, a round trip of some 150 kilometers.

The sedan’s six driving modes -- personal, sport, efficient, expressive, relax and digital art -- allowed for a dynamic experience on the road and within the car.

On the sport mode, the driver’s seat’s backrest adjusted to help reduce body roll, which rarely happened as the car continued to gain traction on the road even on a high-speed ride. The accelerator gave a faster response and the car created little wind and road noise.

Details such as the changing colors of the interaction bar, below the 27-inch display that stretches into the door panels, accentuated the sporty vibe.

When switched to expressive and relax modes, the sunroof cover automatically opened and closed, respectively. The digital art mode showed a random pop art image on the dashboard and display.

One of the noticeable features of the car was how smooth it was on low-speed during traffic as if driving an electric car. BMW's Mild Hybrid Technology, which adds the 48-volt electric motor to boost performance and efficiency, was adopted in the new 5 Series gasoline sedans.

The rear view of the 530i xDrive (Byun Hye-jin/The Korea Herald) The rear view of the 530i xDrive (Byun Hye-jin/The Korea Herald)

As for the exterior, it made modern modifications to the BMW’s signature headlight and kidney grille. The most standout design of the front is the BMW Iconic Glow, a radiator grille light that illuminates the surrounding of the grille.

The lower body moves up along the sedan’s side lines, highlighting the forward-moving image. Its narrow tailgate adopted an L-shaped chrome bar, giving it a statement look.

Within the car, the curvy display that runs on BMW’s latest operating system creates the feeling of being in a cockpit. The center console has minimized the number of hard keys and the gear can be shifted using switches. The car seats, steering wheel, dashboard and door panel all use vegan leather, a first for BMW cars.

The price of the new 5 series’ gasoline models -- New 520i, New 523d and New 530i xDrive -- range from 68.8 million -- 88.7 million won ($51,000 - $66,000). The price tags on the two EV models, New i5 eDrive40 and New i5 M60 xDrive, are set at 93.9 million - 138.9 million won. The electric cars can get up to 1.4 million won in tax exemptions.

Korean rivals of the luxury sedan, Hyundai Motor Group’s Genesis G90 lineup including the long-wheelbase model for example, are priced at around 94.5 million - 167.1 million won.