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BMW 5-series goes eco

Date: 09 January 2007

BMW 5-series

As the 5-series nears middle age, BMW suits have seen fit to give their executive express a quick nip 'n' tuck and a healthy technical tweak to ensure it still has what it takes to compete.

Not that on first glance you'll notice, but believe us when we tell you, the new 5 has new front and rear lamps and a pair of kidney grilles that are now flush with the body.

But forget the looks - it's under the skin where the engineers have been really busy.

Almost all engines are more powerful and more efficient than the ones that they replace.

Spearheading the range - aside from the mighty M5 - remains the V8 550i. However, the most impressive economy gains concern the six-cylinder petrols and diesel range, with some of the engines up to 17% less thirsty than the old ones.

The petrol sixes benefit from uprated fuel injection, while the diesels have been lightened and gain the latest common-rail technology.

Confusingly, BMW has taken the decision to mislead with its badging policy. The 525i gets a detuned 3.0-litre while the 523i a 2.5. There are three individual power outputs for the 3.0-litre diesel. The entry 520d remains unchanged.

Self-shifter fans will appreciate a new automatic gearbox that reacts up to 40% quicker.

Techies will love the BMW for all the gadgets that become available on the 2007 model year.

Active cruise control becomes an option with a stop-start traffic jam feature that maintains a safe distance even in crawling queues.

Heads up display and night vision also hits the list as well as lane keep assist that uses cameras to detect whether the car is wandering, sending a vibration alert through the steering wheel.

There's also the novel feature of a 'high beam assistant' that automatically switches the headlamps off high beam if oncoming traffic is detected.

Finally, the BMW has addressed criticisms of the iDrive being too fiddly by adding eight new shortcut buttons.