2017 BMW 5-Series first drive review: playing the middle Page 2

Looks that can chill

BMW isn’t wasting time showing its hand early with the new 5-Series. Launch models such as the 530i and 540i won’t wait long for company. Two months after the 2017 models go on sale, they’ll be joined by a plug-in hybrid 530e iPerformance model and a M550i xDrive—complete with a V-8—as 2018 models.

All models ride on a modified skeleton borrowed from the 7-Series. That flagship sedan provided many of the weight savings and more efficient tools for the 5-Series, but none of the carbon fiber.

2017 BMW 5-Series production in Dingolfing, Germany

2017 BMW 5-Series production in Dingolfing, Germany

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Aluminum and high-strength steel in the 5-Series netted a weight loss of 137 pounds in the two-ton sedan, and the overall dimensions have changed even less. Just over an inch has been added between the wheels, and its overall height, width, and length head-to-toe have changed even less.

Like the “Star Wars” movie franchise, the middle of the 5-Series hasn’t changed much for a decade or so—but the beginning and end are what we’ll be talking about for a while.

Up front, the taller nose and pronounced grille are more recognizable this time around. Bigger kidney grilles and standard adaptive headlights won’t generate much buzz on their own, but as part of the larger package of 5-Series improvements, they're much more welcome.

ALSO SEE: 2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 first drive review: The deep-knee Benz

Along the sides, the 5-Series borrows much from the 7-Series, but a distinctive and sharper belt line will stay the domain of the smaller sedan. Another pinch right below the windows is the indication to BMW cognoscenti that this is the G30—not the F10.

A more expressive lower rear bumper and taffy-pulled rear taillights finish off the new 5-Series yielding a look that’s more evolutionary this time around, but still manages to smooth over the unfinished corners of the last generation.

Inside, the 5-Series is awash in sometimes-conflicting leather, piping, and stitching. Every material is soft and pliable without feeling thin or cheap. A grippy polyurethane texture around door handles and some switches is a stellar touch.

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