BMW 535i Sedan Luxury

BY Joel Tam

What you see here, is the latest face-lifted BMW 5 Series. No, really it is! I know the changes are subtle (maybe a bit too subtle), but as the saying goes: Don't fix it if it ain't broke.

Where the BMW 5 Series is concerned, it's not just 'ain't broke', it ain't even cracked. In my opinion, the BMW 5 Series is one of the best luxury sedans out there. I thoroughly enjoyed each of the different versions that we got to test (520i, 528i and 535i) previously, and while it is no 3 Series interns of handling, the 5 Series does pretty well for a large saloon.

With this mildly refreshed model, the 5 now sports an updated front and rear. The main difference is in the front apron, where it's now a bit more chiseled and shapely, giving the 5 a stronger, more aggressive face. On our 535i test-car, a set of elegant 19-inch rims filled the huge wheel arches perfectly - for the 5, I think nothing less than 19-inch wheels will do.

Step inside and the first thing that hits you is the cream-coloured leather seats that have been specced under BMW Individual program. Even the roof is lined in a similar colour, albeit in a different texture (a bit more alcantara-like). On the whole, it's a bit too loud for my liking, but it does make the interior feel rather… individualistic. BMW has added some new innovation to its iDrive system for controlling navigation and functions. There's a new touchpad on the controller that features a character-recognition function. Simply use your finger to 'write' on it and the touchpad will recognize letters as they're spelled with your finger. This is also complemented with a voice recognition command function.

It's not difficult to find a comfortable seating position in the 5 Series. Visibility is good and controls are all easily reached. The new digital LCD instrument display we saw earlier in the face-lifted 535i GT is also on the sedan. The thick-rimmed BMW Individual steering wheel is nice to hold too, and a joy to grip and you steer the 535i into a series or corners.

That's where the 535i shines. Compared to the 535i GT we tested earlier, the sedan is a notch sharper in the area of steering and handling. Even the throttle response is more aggressive when in Sport mode. On that note, we concluded that the GT is a more comfortable option in BMW's lineup, so I'm pleased to find that the 5 sedan still delivers a sporty drive when it's asked to do so.

The 6-cylinder in-line twinscroll turbocharged 3-litre unit is still one of the best engines I've come across. With 306 bhp and 400 Nm of torque, it\'s creamy smooth and potent enough to make even the enthusiast smile. Again, I have to add that the 3 Series is of course a sharper tool. But for the grown up car lover who has done well, the 5 Series still packs a rather athletic drive. 0-100 km/h comes in a mere 5.8 seconds, and the 535i will hit a 250 km/h top speed.

Driving mode is standard across all models. In our test-car, I toggled between Sport and Comfort the most, although it's always fun to put it into EcoPro to see how many extra ams you get get out of driving with a light foot. The 8-Speed ZF gearbox is still an efficient and super quick-shifting one. It really makes you wonder if there's a need for dual-clutch systems. Who knows, the new generation 5 Series might even use ZF's latest 9-speed gearbox? We'll see.

The 5 Series might have been starting 'to get old', as the saying goes, but it definitely wasn't broken. Yet BMW felt it was about time to refresh it a bit. The fact that few things were done to update it, is testimony to how great a product it was originally. I'm a fan of the F10 5 Series and with this face-lifted model, I am happy to report that I still am. I'd get one with the M-Sport kit though, the Luxury spec just cramps my style.