By Luca Cima
Tested: The BMW 540 is the mechanical manifestation of pure happiness
BMW has recently launched the all-new 5 Series, arguably the German leader when it comes to luxury sedans. It positions itself between the agile 3 Series and the “presidential” 7 Series. We tested the top of the range – the 540 – with the sport package. This is the M5 that is dressed elegantly.
It takes a lot responsibility to best your competitors generation after generation. In the sporting world, for example, we have seen great individuals hitting at the top of their profession, but only a few have managed to remain the best of the best for an extended period of time. It’s much harder, quite simply, because everyone wants to beat you when you are the champion.
This new model is the result of years of study. My mind was blown away as soon as I sat in this car. The technology, the attention to the smallest of detail, the engineering, the comfort. Everything to enhance the driver’s experience was addressed.
The new design is modern, very German and definitely inspires elegance and sportivity. It’s a car that invites you – the owner -- to drive rather than to be driven by your chauffeur. Once you get in and close the door, you feel like you are well taken care of.
The commands are within easy reach, and access to the countless functions is assured by a touchscreen with Gesture Control as well as from the iDrive Touch Controller and Driving Experience Control. It took me quite a while to realise just how many functions there were for me to customise my drive. From the seat adjustments to the climate, from the active and passive road-safety features to the suspension set-up and the throttle response. I truly had the feeling that the car was doing most of the work, leaving me with little freedom to feel and to interact with the outside world.
The aim is to make the driver feel protected, relaxed, safe and pampered, while governed by an incredibly advanced artificial intelligence. Don’t get me wrong, I could sit behind the wheel of this beauty all day with a smile, but sometimes I wish the computer was switched off and I could be young again.
The 540 is pushed by a superb three litre, twin turbo, six cylinder engine, capable of 340bhp at 6,500rpm and a respectable torque of 450Nm available from 1,380 to 5,200rpm. It’s very impressive and you can feel the 5.1 seconds from zero to 100km/h acceleration. It all happens very naturally and with no drama because this is not a sports car. If, however, you are in the mood to feel a bit of the BMW M thrill, you can and it is a lot of fun.
The tested car was equipped with the M Sport Package, the sport transmission and 20 inch wheels, which made the driving more dynamic. All these goodies helped the experience to be that much more interesting because it allowed us to feel the chassis behaviour when this 1.6-tonne car is pushed through corners with an arrogant attitude. It behaves with total confidence and control. The feedback makes me feel safe even when certain limits are challenged. Many vehicles try to find the right balance, but this car flows through corners with the stability of a sport car -- and this was unexpected.
I would not choose the low profile rims because this spoils the comfort on every day driving, but I can justify the choice because they look terrific and they help with a more immediate response when driven with pure happiness.
Engine Layout: 6 in line, twin turbo
Max Speed: 250km/h
Acceleration 0-100km/h: 5.1 seconds
Starting Price: AED314,000 ($85,488)
Price as tested: N/A