BMW’s refreshed 5 Series goes hybrid with a bigger grille

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BMW

For 2021, BMW’s North American 5 Series lineup includes four powertrain choices under the hood of the seventh-generation midsize sedan. At the bottom of the range sits the four-cylinder, 248-hp 530i and its plug-in hybrid sibling, the 288-hp 530e PHEV. The mid-level 540i packs a 335-hp six-cylinder and a mild-hybrid system, and the range-topping M550i combines a 523-hp, twin-turbo V-8 with all-wheel-drive. While the M550i comes exclusively with all-wheel drive, its less beefy siblings can be yours in either all-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive configuration.

Pricing for the 2021 5 Series ($995 destination fee included) starts at $55,195 for the 530i and continues with $57,495 for the 530i xDrive, $58,195 for the 530e, $60,495 for the 530e xDrive, $60,445 for the 540i, $62,745 for the 540i xDrive, and lastly, $77,795 for the M550i xDrive.

 

With this facelift, BMW introduces a grille that is once again both taller and wider, aided by a new adaptive LED headlight design. The length of the car has grown by 1.2 inches as well, with other exterior and interior dimensions left mostly unchanged. Achieving a Cd figure of just 0.27, the 530i remains the most aerodynamically efficient member of the 2021 5 Series fleet. In the name of speedy looks, the M550i xDrive Sedan comes with the new aerodynamic kit from the M Sport Package, which adds a rear trunk lid spoiler.

At the rear, the 5 gets trapezoidal tailpipe finishers integrated into the bumper, along with upgraded L-shaped taillights featuring black edging and three-dimensional lenses. Choose the M Sport Package, and BMW will throw in additional grey, black chrome, and high-gloss black trim pieces.

 

The big news, however, is the 48-volt mild hybrid system for the 540i and 540i xDrive pair, which adds a powerful starter-generator and a second battery to the six-cylinder turbo engine. The system generates electricity when you’re off the accelerator, especially in Sport mode. Braking helps, too, and the recuperated energy accumulating in the 48V battery can feed the 12V electrical system or add an extra 11 hp when you’re really on the gas. Below 9 mph, the starter-generator allows the engine to be switched off, resulting in seamless start-stops. The same goes for speeds between 16–99 mph: When the coasting function is activated, the six-cylinder will now completely shut off instead of simply being decoupled from the drivetrain. Coasting can be activated not only in Eco Pro mode but also in Comfort.

The 530e remains a traditional plug-in hybrid, featuring a 181-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 107-hp electric drive unit, linked to the eight-speed Steptronic transmission. Having a 9.09-kWh lithium-ion battery pack onboard also allows for electric driving at speeds up to 19 mph (accompanied by BMW’s signature EV sound for the safety of pedestrians).

Standard driver-assistance features include Lane Departure Warning with steering correction, frontal collision and pedestrian warning with braking function, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, rear collision preparation, automatic high beams, and speed limit information. The Driving Assistance Plus Package remains on the options list and adds active cruise control with stop-and-go, a Level 2 autonomous assist system allowing for extended hands-free vehicle operation. With that comes a lane-keeping assistant with side collision avoidance, evasion aid, front cross-traffic alert and emergency stop assistant—which can help guide you to the shoulder and to a halt in case of a medical emergency.

New exterior colors for America include Phytonic Blue Metallic and Bernina Grey Amber Effect. In Europe, BMW has also introduced the 2021 5 Series Touring, along with the refreshed 6 Series Gran Turismo.

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