BMW introduces 2021 5 Series with hybrid upgrades and new tech

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BMW lifted the sheet off its updated 2021 5 Series late Tuesday, showing off a series of styling revisions, an overhauled plug-in hybrid model and some refinement tweaks to the lineup’s powertrain offerings. The midsize 5 Series sedan has been a staple of the German luxury brand’s lineup for decades, and the seventh-generation sedan’s latest round of improvements should ensure that it’s the best example yet. 

Since this is merely a mid-cycle refresh, the changes to the 2021 5 Series are not comprehensive. Like the rest of BMW’s lineup, the new 5 Series receives the brand’s controversial new kidney grille design, albeit with slightly less drama than some of the proposed concepts. The head- and taillights have both been redesigned, as have both the front and rear bumpers (for both the base car and the M Sport package). In addition to a slightly different look, these changes also increased the overall length of the sedan by a little more than an inch. 

If you were hoping for more power out of the updated 5 Series, the news is somewhat mixed. While the plug-in hybrid 530e is getting a pretty healthy dose of additional power, the 530i, 540i and M550i models are carrying on essentially unchanged, with 248, 335 and 523 horsepower, respectively. The PHEV got a bump from 248 to 288 horsepower (and 310 pound-feet of torque) thanks to revisions to the electrified parts of the powertrain.

That’s not to say that the gasoline engines were left untouched. In fact, the inline-six received some pretty heavy revisions, including a 48-volt mild hybrid system that BMW says will not only improve overall efficiency, but enables a couple of new features, including an enhanced engine auto-stop/start feature that can decouple and shut off the engine below 9 mph in order to conserve fuel. At speeds between 16 and 99 mph, the car can also coast on EV power alone, again shutting off the engine. 

BMW also made some adjustments to the hydraulic components of the eight-speed automatic transmission found throughout the lineup to improve responsiveness and refinement. The dampers isolating the powertrain from the body and chassis have also been revised to reduce unwanted noise and vibration.

Inside, the new 5 Series gets a handful of visual updates along with an updated infotainment system running the latest version of the company’s Intelligent Personal Assistant. Not to be confused with a bitter brew, IPA is a natural language interface that responds to “Hey, BMW” and allows for voice control over most of the electronic accessories, including the new 12.3-inch touchscreen (up from 10.25″) that sits atop the center stack. Navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Compatibility are included as standard equipment, and a new Drive Recorder system can monitor vehicle cameras and save footage to an external USB drive. 

The 2021 530i sedan will start at $55,195 (including a $995 destination fee), and customers can place orders starting this month. The 5 Series will arrive in showrooms in July. 

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Saurabh Shukla

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