The last-generation BMW 5 Series sold more than two million units worldwide. Two million. To put that into perspective: between 2010 and 2015 Porsche built just over two million cars in total, across its entire range.
It is, therefore, not hard to see why the latest 5 Series (codenamed G30) is such an important car for BMW. And it's not hard to see why the company has sold so many, given just how good it is.
The 5 Series' legacy is huge, as is the weight of expectation placed on the shoulders of the latest Munich-made executive saloon. After all, how do you follow a smash hit like the F10 generation?
Well, in typically Teutonic fashion, the new BMW 5 Series has been optimised in each and every area. The engineers leaving neither nut nor bolt unturned in their pursuit for saloon car perfection, and the end result suggests their fastidious work has paid off.
BMW 5 Series (2017) review: Design
If you're not a BMW fanboy it may take a few moments to notice the key changes to the new-generation 5 Series. However, once your eye is attuned to the G30's styling tweaks, it's hard to deny that the refreshed Five is a handsome beast.
Like most modern cars, the new BMW 5 Series saloon is wider, longer and taller than its F10 predecessor (albeit only by 36mm, 6mm and 2mm respectively).
Munich's stylists have decided to play with this extra real estate, accentuating the new 5 Series' front end with wider LED headlights (available as standard with a range of over 300 metres) that run from the edge of the more angular kidney grille right out onto the front wings.
Combined with the more chiselled front bumper treatment, the latest 5 Series' expression is certainly a menacing one, with the sporting pretences carried over to the rear, where dual tailpipes are now standard issue (round on SE models and trapezoidal on M Sport-specced cars).
As well as being the best-looking 5 Series for over a decade (in our opinion, at least), BMW has streamlined the executive saloon, reducing its drag coefficient by 10 per cent, using tweaks such as the moveable 'louvres' in the front grille that can close to optimise the aerodynamics.
Good looking and intelligent. We're off to a good start already.
BMW 5 Series (2017) review: Interior
Unusually, our first experience of the new BMW 5 Series' cabin is from the back seats, where the increased head and legroom, along with the more luxurious leather, certainly provides an improved executive ambience. It's likely to be cliché that runs through many new 5 Series reviews, but it certainly feels like a mini 7 Series from the rear pews.
Up front, it becomes even more obvious that Munich's designers have worked hard to improve the look and feel of the cockpit. The high-gloss wood inserts wouldn't look out of place in a Swedish designer kitchen, while the new digital dashboard firmly brings the latest 5 Series into the 21st Century, especially when combined with the optional HUD pack (head-up display for the driver in line of sight; this now features an 800x400 pixel resolution, which is 70 per cent larger than the previous generation).
There are a choice of three sound systems, the standard stereo packing 12 speakers, while the optional Harman Kardon punches out 600 watts through 16 speakers and provides impressive clarity, aided by the lack of ambient noise in the well-sealed cabin. At the top of the range sits a 1,400 Bowers and Wilkins Diamond surround sound system, pumping your favourite tunes out across 16 different speaker units (it ain't a cheap addition, but does sound glorious).
BMW 5 Series (2017) review: Infotainment and connectivity
Even BMW will probably admit that its original iDrive control system was a little on the complex side. However, 16 years on from that, the latest iteration is much improved.
The various facets of the 5 Series' infotainment system have been rationalised into a new three-square grid system on the high-resolution, 10.25-inch central display that, as well as via touch or the iDrive wheel, can now be controlled via a wide range of voice commands and, if ticked on the options list, an impressive array of gesture commands, the latter premiered last year on the latest 7 Series.
In terms of connectivity, the 5 Series boasts a comprehensive repertoire. Apple CarPlay is available wirelessly – an automotive first – while you can even sync your Office365 account to the car, allowing you to exchange emails (via the voice command you can dictate notes without your hands having to leave the steering wheel) or sync your calendar appointments.
With the latter, addresses from your upcoming appointments can be seamlessly integrated into the Professional Navigation system, guiding you to your next meeting and allowing you to update your colleagues with a revised ETA should you hit traffic on your commute.
Talking of traffic, each new BMW 5 Series comes with a SIM card, providing live traffic updates as standard. With an in-built data connection, the latest model can also act as a portable WiFi hotspot for up to 10 separate devices.
The piece de resistance, though, is the BMW Connected app (available for iOS and Android devices). As well as learning your regular journeys and notifying you when you need to leave to reach your next destination on time, the app can access the built-in radar sensors and parking cameras to develop a 3D scan of the area surrounding the car, allowing you to effortlessly find your car in a crowded car park.
That's some impressively futuristic shiz right there.
BMW 5 Series (2017) review: The drive
For the launch of the new 5 Series saloon, BMW is offering two diesel and two petrol options and, while the 530i and 540i may feel more worthy of the Ultimate Driving Machine moniker, it's the oil-burning motors that will likely tempt buyers to part with their hard-earned cash.
The four-cylinder 520d generates 190bhp and 400Nm of torque while remaining capable of 68.8mpg on a combined cycle but, while this will likely be the powerplant of choice for many company car customers, we plumped for the smooth inline six-cylinder 530d (complete with the optional xDrive four-wheel drive system).
Packing 265bhp, it's the second most powerful motor in the current 5 Series range (topped only by the 340hp 540i xDrive) but, when it comes to torque it's the daddy, with a total output of 620Nm. That's enough to take the 530d xDrive from 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds and all the way on to a limited top speed of 155mph.
For an executive saloon intended, primarily, to ferry businessmen around in comfort, it's certainly sprightly.
The eight-speed auto gearbox – now standard across the range – is actually at its most impressive when left to its own devices, smoothly and discreetly swapping cogs whereas in the manual mode, the response is sometimes found lacking, especially at the heady heights of the 530d's 5,500rpm redline.
Dynamically, the optional M Sport pack on our test 5 Series lowers and stiffens the car, providing an impressive level of roll control, while still allowing the saloon to float uncannily well over imperfect surfaces - a promising sign for when the car reaches rutted UK roads proper.
Helped by nearly 100kg of weight saving compared to the outgoing model – achieved without the need for carbon fibre, unlike the 7 Series – the latest 530d will happily tackle twisting tarmac, doing a passing impression of a dedicated sports tourer when it wants to, especially when set in the optional Adaptive drive mode.
This setting automatically adjusts the suspension depending on your driving inputs and GPS data, allowing the car to literally predict upcoming corners. Clever stuff indeed – but it's only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the new BMW 5 Series' electronic talents.
There's a whole host of autonomous tech packed into the new generation saloon, including a lane-keep assist function, which can pilot the car for up to 30-seconds at speeds up to 130mph. Not that we're quite ready to take our hands from the wheel at those sort of velocities (not that we could even achieve such speeds on the UK's public roads – it's something reserved for the Autobahn).
When BMW says the new 5 Series is the most technologically advanced car the company has ever made, it's easy to see why. Everything on board adds up to an impressively polished package which blends together stunning driving dynamics and performance with cutting-edge connectivity and technology.
Even in fairly basic spec, many of the headline features are included as standard - which makes the £36,025 start price for the 520d look like incredibly good value compared to its competitors.
What's more, despite the digital masterclass, the new BMW 5 Series doesn't make you feel detached from the driving experience. It's probably Munich's most charming saloon yet.
Indeed, we can't think of a more accomplished saloon car on the market.