Two managing directors in my company drive 5 Series saloons. At their level in the executive hierarchy, the mid-range Bimmer is probably most appropriate. It is prestigious without being pretentious, the cabin is spacious and luxurious, the boot has a good size and shape for golf bags (MDs are regular players by default), and the car drives nicely. And in grey, the 5 Series looks no flashier than my CEO’s Camry.
Speaking of paintwork, there are four new colours for the revised 5 – Glacier Silver, Kalisto Grey, Mineral White and something called Jatoba.
These paint jobs are perhaps more noticeable than the vehicle’s design tweaks, which are so minor that they’re more like design tweets – additional contour lines around the familiar kidney grille, “restructured” lower air intakes, LED technology for the headlights and foglamps, side indicators newly integrated with the wing mirrors, and the option of Luxury Line exterior trim (basically more of the shiny stuff). The tweaks look even more minor when compared to Mercedes’ dramatic restyle of the E-Class, perpetual arch-rival to the 5 Series.
Inside the BMW, there is the same generous space for occupants and a bit more room for their loose items, thanks to storage compartments and cupholders that have been enlarged slightly. Far more obvious is the digitisation of the main instruments – they are very clear and can change their appearance according to the drive mode. In Sport, for instance, the meters “morph” to look all sporty and red, complete with a small power gauge (in hp or kW) parked below the tacho.
In addition, the iDrive controller now has a touch-sensitive surface that recognises handwriting, but scribbling anything on the move is impossible when you got both hands on the steering wheel and enjoying the excellent handling.
The 535i performs very well indeed, accelerating speedily and attacking corners with gusto. Switch the chassis to Sport mode and the car could be chasing an M5 along South Buona Vista Road (albeit not catching up). Despite the inherent sportiness of the 535i, it still rides comfortably on its 19-inch run-flat Dunlops, which absorb bad tarmac better than expected.
If any of my golf-playing MDs is reading this, I’d like to also inform him that the updated 535i comes with “handsfree” opening/closing of the boot lid – just place a foot under the rear bumper apron to activate the mechanism. Just like the renewed E-Class, by the way.
2014 BMW 535i 3.0 (A)
ENGINE 2979cc, 24-valves, inline-6, turbocharged
MAX POWER 306bhp at 5800-6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 400Nm at 1200-5000rpm
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 5.7 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h (governed)
CO2 EMISSION 183g/km