Ahead of the 5 Series’ 49th year of production, BMW has given the mid-size sedan a refreshening. Headlining the changes is the availability of a plug-in hybrid version, while subtle exterior changes give the car a more up-to-date look.
Part of that look is a small increase in length. The rest of the dimensions are unchanged, but BMW has added 1.2 inches from nose to tail for “a more sweeping profile”, according to BMW. Easier to notice are the thinner headlights up front, sporting a simpler shape and two L-shaped DRLs on each side. The grille is bigger and brighter too—no surprise there—and now joined in the center like the 3 and 7 Series. The rear lights get smoked edges and new lighting elements that lend them a three-dimensional look.
A different, mild-hybrid system does duty in the six-cylinder 54oi and 540i xDrive models. The 48-volt system uses a second battery, harvesting power under deceleration and redistributing it later. The system also makes gas engine start-stop operations smoother, as the straight six can switch off once the car’s speed is under 9 mph during breaking. The 540i’s coasting function also shuts off the engine at any speed between 16 and 99 mph in Eco Pro or Comfort driving modes.
Sitting at the top of the pile, at least until an updated M5 bows, is the M550i xDrive. It retains its 523-horsepower, twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 engine, and is capable of rocking up to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds. The M550i, along with every 2021 5 Series, uses an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Orders are now open for the 2021 mid-size sedan, which starts at $55,195 for the base 530i, including $995 in destination. BMW expects to begin shipping the first cars in July.