FIRST IMPRESSION: Premium looks with the heart of a sports car‚ the 5 Series packs a lot into a mid- to full-size sedan.
Look you don’t need Chauffeur Driven to define BMW as a luxury vehicle; you already know that about the brand. But what about as a livery option? We’ve reported over the last few months that BMW is looking to ramp up its presence in the chauffeured ground transportation industry‚ and so far it has been competing well with domestic and foreign carmakers alike. Before we launch into our experience with the vehicle (we tested the 528i xDrive)‚ here are some figures about 5 Series.
The vehicles in the 5 Series are essentially the same base model with different options‚ so the specs on head and leg room would be the same for the 528i as it would for the 550i (with the exception of the Gran Turismo models‚ which have a modified body style). With the 528i‚ you’ll get the smallest—yet still powerful at 240 horsepower—engine with the best gas mileage (23/34 city/highway). If you want a little more oomph‚ the 550i offers a Twin Turbo 4.4L V-8 with 445 horsepower‚ but less fuel efficiency (17/25 city/highway). All of our testers found the 528i to be smooth‚ responsive‚ and very quiet. You won’t feel any shifting of the 8-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission. In fact‚ when you keep the vehicle in ECO PRO mode‚ you get your best gas mileage without sacrificing any noticeable power. One word about ECO PRO: If you’ve never experienced driving in this mode‚ you’ll notice that the vehicle engine essentially shuts off at full stops to conserve fuel. This does not affect anything else being powered by the vehicle at the time‚ such as the cooling system or entertainment cluster. Once you take your foot even slightly off the brake‚ the vehicle is instantly responsive and ready to go.
Vehicles in the 5 Series come with a navigation system‚ which we are happy to report is not only fairly easy to use‚ but up-to-the-minute current. One of our testers purposely navigated down a road that had recently been permanently dead-ended and the system rerouted to accommodate‚ even though the road was once a major connecting street. The navigation and entire entertainment cluster are controlled by a knob intuitively placed near the right hand of the driver just below the arm rest. Trust us‚ you get used to that quickly and wish your other vehicles had it. If you’re looking for options‚ we highly suggest the functional—and quite helpful—rear view camera. A tester liked the “guide rails” when backing into tight spots or even parallel parking spaces. Also‚ because of some blind spots noted by testers (especially the rear pillars)‚ the optional blind spot monitor might be well worth the cost to help prevent accidents.
Specifications (528i only)
Engine - 2.0L Twin Turbo I-4 with 240HP
MPG - 23/34 (city/highway)
REAR HEAD ROOM - 38.3"
REAR LEG ROOM - 36.1"
(with Livery incentives without dealer costs)
Front-seat comfort was enjoyed by all testers who ranged in heights from 5'8" to 6'4". The 10-way adjustable seat with telescoping steering wheel meant that everyone found their right sitting position fairly quickly. If multiple drivers will use the car‚ up to two seating positions can be saved. For convenience and safety‚ the chauffeur can easily connect his phone to the vehicle for hands-free operation.
The back seat is where it really counts. While the leg room was a little tighter than we were hoping for‚ there is a solution on the passenger side of the car: the passenger seat moved forward‚ as most livery operators do‚ makes a world of difference. This is the ideal seating arrangement‚ in our recommendation‚ for a single client run; but a smaller passenger would fit behind the driver. Like the cockpit‚ the rear seats were also comfortable and supportive—firm enough to provide the right level of support‚ but soft enough to enjoy sitting for a while. Head room wasn’t a problem either‚ even for our 6'4" tester. You can even change the level of comfort with Driving Dynamics Control so that potholes and road damage are less evident to your passengers in the backseat. The ambiance lighting throughout was soft and comfortable‚ not garish or harsh.
The trunk space was on par with other sedans in the industry. We were able to fit two full-size suitcases and three smaller duffle-type bags (without stacking) on the floor of the trunk. Overall‚ you get 14.0 cu. ft. of space‚ which should be plenty for any traveling executive.
BMW took a lot of the indecision out of the equation when it stepped up to the plate to offer a Livery Extended Service Contract of 3 years or 150‚000 miles for an additional cost. Speaking of cost‚ the 528i comes in with the lowest sticker price of the series at $42‚540 (with Livery incentives‚ excluding dealer fees). If you want xDrive‚ which is BMW’s version of all-wheel drive‚ the Livery price bumps up to $44‚655 (excluding dealer fees). These are competitive with many of the livery sedan options out there. If you’d like to see more information about pricing‚ incentives‚ and the Extended Service Contract‚ check out: http://bit.ly/1iu0MCa.
Bottom line: The 5 Series not only looks like a luxury sedan‚ it truly is one inside and out. The lines—there’s no mistaking its European roots—are striking and beautiful‚ the rear seating area is comfortable and covered in soft‚ but durable black leather‚ and the badge alone will impress customers. The 528i or 528i xDrive with BMW’s Livery incentives will offer you the best bang for your buck with an engine that is not only responsive and fuel efficient‚ but powerful. You won’t need to sell this vehicle to your customers. [CD0714]