BMW began its innings earlier with this year with the 3 Series executive sedan and the 7 Series luxury sedan. Beginning this month, BMW will start assembly of its fabled 5 Series premium executive sedans and retail operations as well.
As seen with the Mercedes E-Class in India, the premium executive sedan has been the largest selling car for DaimlerChrysler in India over the years.
BMW will also be hoping the same, which is why, they have offered four engine options (three petrol and one diesel) -- DaimlerChrysler offers the three (two petrol and one diesel). The petrol engines range from 2500cc to 3000cc while the diesel displaces 3000cc.
All are straight sixes -- BMW's most renowned engines. The 523i features a 190 bhp 4-valve per cylinder 2500cc engine that not only beats the nearest rival -- the Mercedes E200 K by a couple of horses, but also makes a wee bit more torque, 1.5 kgm more, to be precise.
Performance levels will be similar, but we expect the 523i to be slightly quicker and faster. However, the features and equipment list for the 5 could be significantly heavier than the E's.
The middle petrol car, the 218 bhp 525i will be beaten by the E280 on pure performance. But it isn't a fair comparison, because the top petrol will be the 530i, which will squeeze in between Merc's E280 and Audi's A6 3.0.
But don't get the impression that the 525i will be slow -- the car will have enjoyable acceleration
and top speed. But the serious car for the driving enthusiast will be the 530i. With 272 bhp for the asking, it will be seriously fast, treading the line between cosseting ride quality and sharp handling with aplomb.
All the cars feature standard run-flat tyres, which have been blamed for thrashy ride quality. However, these cars will have the second gen tyres, which BMW says are far superior. Reports do suggest that the E has the ride quality edge, but we shall find out shortly, right? The handling plaudits, though are uniformly stacked in the 5's court.
Diesel lovers, though, might do well to test drive the 525D. The 24-valve 3000cc six produces a very respectable 197 bhp of peak power. But diesels aren't about power peaks, and this one produces 40 kgm.
However, the E280 CDI comes up trumps, making 4 kgm more (and loses 7 bhp
on top in the process). Where BMW firmly manages to get the run on the Mercs, however, is on the price chart.
The 525D is priced at Rs 42.4 lakh or Rs 4.24 million (ex-showroom Mumbai), which makes the car a couple of lakhs cheaper than the E280 CDI. The petrols, cheaper by similar margins, are priced between RS 37 lakh (Rs 3.7 million) for the 523i and Rs 45 lakh (Rs 4.5 million) for the 530i.
It looks like BMW's 5 Series cars are all set to shake up the premium executive car market when they roll into BMW showrooms in short order. Not only can we not wait to drive the lot of them, we're waiting to see how BSM's Merc-BMW comparison test pans out.