BMW 540i a multi-talented and formidably quick executive express
What is it?
The all-new BMW 5-Series, or more specifically, the 540i version as tested here. The BMW 5-Series mid-size luxury range is BMW’s answer to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6, Jaguar XF, Lexus GS and perhaps more indirectly, the Volvo S90.
What’s it cost?
The BMW 5-Series range offers customers a wide variety of engine choices and trim levels across sedan and wagon variants. The range opens with the 520i Luxury sedan which is priced from $89,990 plus on road costs and options all the way up to the M5 First Edition which is priced from $229,900 plus on road costs and options.
We tested the BMW 540i M Sport which starts from $139,990. Our test car was crammed with a raft of options. We’ll touch on these later.
What’s it go like?
The BMW 540i is powered by BMW’s lovely 3.0 litre inline six-cylinder which is boosted by a turbocharger and an intercooler. Total power is 250kW @ 6500rpm and 450Nm @ 1380-5200rpm of torque. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic which sends power to the rear wheels.
The driveline is supremely smooth whilst being satisfyingly powerful. It seems BMW has worked incredibly hard to shield occupants from any mechanical unpleasantries. And, to a large extent they’ve succeeded. Cabin noise is very nearly non-existent and the 540i generally wafts along like some sort of leather lined Germanic sensory-depravation tank with the engine and transmission working in seamless unison.
Plant the right foot and the 540i hurtles forward in a very hushed and refined rage. If you select Sport + in the drive modes there’s even a subtle crackle and pop from the exhaust which adds a little excitement to whole experience.
BMW claims that the 540i will do the 0-100km/h sprint in 5.1 seconds, and we believe them.
Handling is equally impressive, the steering is direct and well-weighted and the body stays relatively quiet while cornering. That said, while the 540i is a delight through corners, you’re always aware of the car’s size, and it always feels big, but it isn’t cumbersome.
While the 540i is very quick and very comfortable, the ride is quite firm and some road imperfections can make their way up to the passengers’ buttocks.
A 360 degree camera system assists with parking, and a rather excellent heads up display ensures that you rarely have to take your eyes off the road.
If you’re a very wealthy executive who likes to get about quickly and comfortably, the 540i could very well be the car for you.
What’s it like inside?
When it comes to interiors, BMW is a bit of traditionalist. Their interiors are sensibly designed and logically laid out, with the centre stack gently angled towards the driver, it’s a good system and it seems to work well.
The interior in the new 5 Series is no different, however, it ups the luxury ante. There’s a digital instrument cluster, the seats are soft and ever so comfortable and, our test car had an optional massaging function, with offered a number of settings. This was particularly helpful in taking the monotonous sting out of peak hour traffic. There’s also seat heating and cooling, of course.
All materials and surfaces are beautiful to the sight or the touch, and the stitched leather dash was a tasteful finisher.
Moreover, the optional Bowers & Wilkins stereo is outstanding and the on board TV system – there are three screens in total keep passengers entertained. And we can confirm that the wireless charging is handy feature that works seamlessly with the latest smartphones.
Gesture control is also fitted allowing you to wave your hands about in order to adjust some of the car’s features, such as the temperature on the climate control.
Up front, head, leg and shoulder room are all excellent, and the front passengers have plenty of space stretch and luxuriate.
In the back, though, it’s a slightly different story. While the rear accommodation is by no means cramped, rear legroom is a little tighter than expected for a car of this size. Similarly, a transmission hump in the floor means that the rear is only really suitable for two passengers. Head room is fine though and the rear seat itself is sumptuous.
Overall, this suggests that the 540i is a BMW that you should be drive, rather than driven in, as rivals such as the Volvo S90 do rear leg room much better.
In sum, the new BMW 5 Series cabin is a contemporarily and thoughtfully designed space that exudes, prestige, quality and comfort.
What we like:
- A sense of true luxury and prestige
What we don’t:
- The BMW 540i is wonderfully hushed and quiet, an ideal cruiser for almost any occasion. However, the BMW 540i is an M Sport model, and a step up the daddy, the M5. So while the 540i does the luxury car thing well, it’s a little too polite as a sports sedan. Select the Sport + mode and you even get a little pop and crackle from the exhaust, but it’s just a little too muted and robs the 5 of some personality.
In contrast, the 540i’s rival the Jaguar XF R Sport 35t has a scintillating supercharger whine which accompanies its throaty V6 exhaust note. The Jag’s engine is never harsh or raucous, but it does add some personality and excitement to the drive experience.
- The 540i is a joy to drive, but it doesn’t necessarily hide its size well
- Rear legroom a little tight for a car of this size
- Options can get expensive
Sale or no sale?
Sale. The BMW 540i M Sport is a well-rounded performance sedan, and should be in the upper echelons of your shopping list if you’re in the market for this sort of car.
Options fitted to this vehicle:
|§ Innovations Package (incl. BMW Display Key, Gesture Control, Remote Control Parking)|
§ Indulgence Package (incl. Soft-Close Function for Doors, Massage Function for Driver and Front Passenger, Rear-Seat Entertainment Professional, TV Function)
§ BMW Individual Interior trim Fine-wood trim Sen Light Brown
§ Integral Active Steering
§ BMW Individual Instrument Panel finished in ‘Walknappa’ Leather
§ BMW Individual Exterior Line Aluminium Satinated
§ BMW Individual paintwork
§ Automatic air conditioning with 4-zone control
§ Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system
§ BMW Individual Full Leather ‘Merino’ Smoke White
MRLP With Options Added*