The new 540i could be BMW’s best car ever

CarBuyer Singapore

Got $356k knocking around? Consider the new BMW 540i, a luxury car that Singaporeans indirectly helped to design

SINGAPORE — This may be a review the all-new BMW 5 Series, but the relevant number here is “7”. It’s the seventh generation model (codenamed G30) of a car that helped to define the idea of a sporty executive car, for one thing.

For another, it’s something of a baby 7 Series. That’s something we’re convinced of after driving the BMW 540i.

But more to the point, it could well be the best car that BMW has ever made.

It’s as if the development team really sat down and thought about what a 5 Series should be from the ground up. The result is stunning: it’s better to drive than the previous car, and so incredibly refined that it feels like a 7 Series with less room in the back.

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The seats are super plush, with wide, supportive cushions and supple upholstery, and even if you can’t stretch out in the back like you can in a 7 Series, you won’t feel cramped.

There’s also the same “wellness” approach taken by the 7, so the air-con pumps out negative ions (which kill bacteria and mould spores and breaks down harmful chemical compounds), and there’s a fragrance delivery system (which Mercedes came out with first).

It sounds gimmicky — although interestingly, BMW put those features in the 7 Series specifically in response to feedback from Singapore customers — yet it actually seems to work. Driving the 540i always felt both restful and revitalising, somehow.

In fact, if you have one of these you’ll look forward to climbing behind the wheel, every time.

In terms of force, the 540i’s engine is like a grenade, propelling the big BMW along with a kick that feels explosive. But in terms of manners, it’s like a ghost. This is easily the quietest 5 Series ever, but it has to be hushed as a Bentley inside, too.

The 540i glides over tarmac in a supremely unruffled way that only a flying saucer could better, too. Mind you, the test car came with lower, stiffer M Sport suspension and 20-inch wheels, and still it feels like the BMW has fluffy pillows where tyres should be.

Handling-wise, it’s better at high speed stuff than the old 5 Series, in that body movements are much better controlled, and it feels altogether more planted. And of course you can switch everything off and do the tail-slidey stuff if that’s your thing.

But you’ll want more steering feedback, because the proceedings are a bit detached, going by how the 540i feels.

Apart from that, there’s an important caveat: Our test car was a 540i — the fastest, most powerful, best-equipped and priciest 5 Series on sale at the moment. It’s being launched later today with a price tag of $355,800 with COE.

Far more people will buy the 530i, which is slower (although not slow, since it gets to 100km/h in just 6.2 seconds) and presumably less feature packed, and save themselves around 75 grand.

Still more people will choose the entry-level 520d, which is bound to be more basic, with a likely price tag of just over a quarter of a million dollars.

Are they are accomplished as the range-topping 540i? It’ll cost you $356K to find out.

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