For many, this feature will play an increasingly large part in how they choose a car. To say that this is the pinnacle of what the 5 Series’ feature would be doing the car a grave injustice.
We now live in a world where gadgets, not horsepower can be the deciding factor for someone buying a car.
Fuel economy and driving excitement is of course important, but if you’re choosing between two cars it’s often not the engine that will win you over it’s whether or not it can play Spotify from your iPhone.
This new generation of 5 Series offers the best of both worlds – BMW’s best driving experience, along with some of its most advanced technology.
The first thing you will probably notice is that the 2017 5 Series features an all-new interior over last year’s model. It is in many ways a distilled, compact version of the company’s flagship 7 Series. If it’s possible for a design to be described as making a minimalist statement then that’s the 5 Series summed up.
You won’t notice it immediately but after a few minutes your eye will start catching on some of the materials, design elements and then the staggering quality of it all will start to dawn on you. The driving seat of this car is a genuinely wonderful place to be, everything just feels effortlessly premium without ever being flashy.
Which is impressive when you consider the vast 10.2-inch touchscreen that dominates the centre console.
It’s a bright, high-definition display that’s extremely responsive and suffers very little glare.
Below it are a sleek collection of buttons around the CD player and then, because one isn’t enough, another smaller colour screen sits below showing the car’s climate control systems.
BMW’s iDrive software is excellent, if a little daunting. While the home screen has clearly been tailored for touch, BMW’s opted for a hybrid set of menus that while traditional in appearance are just as easy to navigate either through the iDrive dial or with your fingers.
One area where you might struggle is with the sheer breadth of the settings at your disposal. It’s overwhelming at first and definitely demands that you sit down for a bit beforehand just to get an idea of where everything is.
Some of the problem here is an overly simplistic menu design but much of it is simply down to the fact that BMW lets your tweak everything on the car
Beyond the car’s own software there’s Apple CarPlay as well, allowing you to access your iPhone’s operating system up on the display along with Spotify, Messages, Music and more. It was super easy to setup and simply works in tandem with BMW’s own software.
This is not the only large screen in the car. The other is placed behind the wheel in the form of a digital dashboard.
While the entire display is digital, there’s a merging of the old speedometer designs in the form of two sleek metal curves that physically outline the speedometer and rev counter. It’s a small touch but it looks incredibly slick.
The dashboard is where you as a driver will devote the most of your time to. It’s a vast digital canvas that shows you vital information as and when you need to see it. Whether it’s changing tracks, seeing which lane you need to move to or making phone calls it’s an adaptive display that can be customised just like your phone’s home screen.
Above it you’ll find BMW’s full-colour head-up display. It’s not a new feature to have, but nevertheless each variation gets better, and this latest one is superb.
Having at one point simply shown a speedometer you now get a full colour display projected out onto the end of the bonnet of the car. It’ll show the music playing, navigational directions and just like everything else on this car it can be customised to within an inch of its life.
Leading the car’s technological charge however are two key features: Gesture control and remote parking.
That first one is literally what it says on the tin. You simply lift your hand off the gear stick, point at the instrument cluster and make a circular motion. Clockwise raises the volume, anti-clockwise turns it down.
Want to pause? Simply extend two fingers and the once deafening cacophony of noise becomes a blissful temple of silence.
Is it a revolution in how we interact with our cars? No, not really, but it could be.
Just in the same way that Kinect never truly took off on the Xbox, instead it became the beginning of something far larger. While it feels like nothing more than a gimmick at the moment it could become the main way we interact with the self-driving cars of the future.
The next one is remote parking. By using BMW’s Display Key you can remotely access the car, turn it on and then either drive it forward or reverse it out of a parking space.
This is incredibly useful if you’ve parked up and the person next to you has given you absolutely no space to get out. In addition it’s a really useful way of getting added visibility if you’ve got a bit of tricky manoeuvring to do.
Finally, and arguably most importantly, it’s also incredibly cool. Every time we activated it a childish grin appeared on our face.
Proving that Tesla aren’t the only company to feature self-driving the 5 Series comes with its own version for the motorway.
We found it to be as good as Tesla’s Autopilot in every regard showing that while Tesla might have had the edge before, the competition are definitely catching up.
Finally there’s BMW Connected. This is an app you can download onto your iPhone or Android phone. It gives you access to your car’s location and lets you pre-condition the car’s climate control (perfect for winter).
It’s a genuinely useful app that tells you essential info about the car including whether it’s locked or not.
Finally the app lets you see a live birds eye view of the car at any point. Using the plethora of cameras dotted around the car it takes a 360-degree image which you can then drag around.
It’s an interesting feature not because it’s especially useful in its current condition but more that it offers an taster of what’s to come.
Being able to tap into a live 360-degree video feed of your car could well be useful but for now, it feels like a very cool gimmick and nothing more.
The 2017 5 Series is in almost every regard a triumph for BMW.
While some of its expensive optional features offer little in the way of innovation, it’s the bread and butter features of the car that make it stand out as offering one of the best technology packages on four wheels.
The digital dashboard is absolutely superb, while the car’s Connected Drive app features are truly useful.
Wireless CarPlay works seamlessly too while the car’s software is a powerful step forward from the original connected software we first saw on BMW’s and Minis.
In its fully specced form it’s not cheap, but the 5 Series lives up to the hype of being one of BMW’s most advanced cars.
The Best Gadgets Of 2017
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