In Europe, large cars with small, turbocharged engines have been around forever. That’s because there’s not much call for big, torque-heavy engines for stoplight-to-stoplight drag racing; however, brisk-enough acceleration combined with strong highway fuel economy plays well in the autobahn culture.
That’s not the case in America, where there is no replacement for displacement. And at least until a few years ago, buying a BMW 5 Series sedan meant instant admittance into the straight-six club. But in 2012, BMW tested the waters with a turbo-four entry for the 5 Series.
With the updated 2017 530i, BMW has launched a revised 2.0-liter direct-injected twin-scroll turbo-four with variable camshaft and valve timing, rated at 248 hp (up from 240) and mated to ZF’s 8HP50 eight-speed automatic transmission.
We took delivery of our Mediterranean Blue on Ivory White leather edition in April. Our Bimmer came loaded, meaning its $52,195 base price had rocketed to $72,135.
Key contributors to our 530i’s $20,000 in options were the Premium package ($2,300, which gets you keyless access, wireless charging, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and SiriusXM satellite radio); $1,800 for the Driving Assistance package (a rearview camera, head-up display, and parking sensors); $1,400 for blind-spot detection, daytime pedestrian protection, frontal collision warning with city collision mitigation, lane departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alert; and $1,700 for Traffic Jam Assistant (low-speed stop-and-go cruise control), lane keeping assistance with side collision avoidance, active cruise control, lane departure warning, frontal collision warning, city collision mitigation, and yet more pedestrian protection.
Interestingly, Americans took to a small-engine 5 quickly, with the 2.0-liter turbo 528i accounting for half of 5 Series sales. That’s mostly because the new turbo-four had as much horsepower as the old inline-six it replaced. (BMW also added a more powerful inline-six, at a significant premium.)
Dimensionally, the 5 has grown 0.2 inch in wheelbase (to 117.1 inches) while gaining 1.2 inches in overall length (to 194.6). Front track remains the same, at 63.0 inches, and rear track decreases by 0.2 inch to 63.9 inches. Width increases by 0.3 inches to 63.0. Impressively, BMW claims to have leeched 68 pounds from its base curb weight, mostly by optimizing the body-in-white and various suspension pieces through the use of aluminum and ultra-high-strength steels.
How all this lightweighting and added horsepower will affect the 530i’s performance will be seen in our first update, once we have sufficient break-in miles to conduct testing. The outgoing 528i hit a 6.2-second 0–60, a 14.7-second quarter mile at 94.4 mph, 106 feet to stop from 60 mph, and a 0.88 g skidpad number. Come back in a month to see how the new guy did.