BMW has announced a range of new petrol engines for 5 Series models. The BMW 523i, 525i and 530i will go on sale in spring 2005 in SE and Sport variants, powered by three versions of the new magnesium-aluminium composite six-cylinder petrol engine recently launched in the new BMW 630i. Both Saloon and Touring variants will be available.

Powered by a variant of the “world’s lightest six-cylinder engine,” the new BMW 523i with its 174bhp 2,497cc engine replaces the existing 520i in the model line-up. The new powerplant is made from lightweight materials such as magnesium and aluminium, and features VALVETRONIC technology for the first time on a six-cylinder petrol 5 Series. Zero to 62mph takes 8.5 seconds (9.3 for the automatic), top speed is 146mph (144mph) and the combined fuel consumption figure is 33.2mpg (30.4mpg). Compared to the outgoing BMW 520i, torque has been increased by 15lb/ft (+9 per cent) and power is up 4bhp, but fuel consumption has also improved. 95 per cent of the engine’s maximum torque of 170lb/ft is available between 2,000rpm to 5,000rpm.

The 215bhp BMW 525i features a more highly tuned version of the 523i 2,497cc engine. The result is a car that posts a zero to 62mph time of 7.5 seconds (7.9), a top speed of 152mph (150mph) and a combined fuel consumption of 32.5mpg (30.1mpg). Torque is 184lb/ft at 2,750rpm to 4,250rpm.

The 258bhp BMW 530i receives a27bhp or 11.5 per cent power hike over the unit it replaces. The 2,996cc powerplant has the same specification as the 630i Coupé and Convertible and will soon be used in the all-new BMW 3-Series. Torque is on a par with the previous 530i, but the new engine has a flatter torque curve and more power low down. Peak torque of 221lb/ft is delivered between 2,500rpm and 4,000rpm. Thanks to its VALVETRONIC technology the engine can now also rev higher (7,000rpm) for greater breadth of performance. In reality, this equates to a zero to 62mph time of 6.5 seconds (6.7), a top speed of 155mph and a combined fuel consumption figure of 32.1mpg (30.4mpg).

All new models come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. A six-speed automatic with Steptronic is available as an option. Buyers of the new BMW 525i and 530i can also specify a Sequential Manual Gearbox.

The new six-cylinder engine incorporates DSC+ which adds five features to the standard DSC: Brake Standby, Rain Brake Support, Hill Start Assist, Fading Compensation and Soft Stop.

  • Brake Standby shortens stopping distances by priming the brakes if the driver lifts off the accelerator sharply in preparation for an emergency stop. The result is a car that has already commenced the stopping process in an emergency situation by the time the driver applies the brake.
  • Rain Brake Support improves braking performance in the wet. Driving on wet roads leads to a film of water building up on the brake discs. This naturally lengthens stopping distances when the brakes are applied as the pads cannot bite the disc as effectively as in the dry. With Rain Brake Support, the activation of the windscreen wipers or a signal from the screen-mounted Rain Sensor enables a periodic gentle application of the brakes to scrub off any residue. When full stopping power is then needed the maximum force is achievable. In day-to-day driving, this periodic brake application is unnoticeable and, to avoid any confusion or danger, the brake lights do not illuminate when Rain Brake Support is active.
  • Hill Start Assist allows a manual transmission car to pull away smoothly on a gradient without rolling backwards. This is achieved by maintaining brake pressure for the short time taken to apply the accelerator after releasing the foot or handbrake. The system judges the gradient of slope and the subsequent degree of brake pressure needed for a smooth start.
  • Fading Compensation. When the brakes get very hot, a driver can experience some fade in stopping power. Consequently, he or she needs to apply greater force to achieve the same stopping power. Fading Compensation recognises this situation and applies additional braking without any extra effort from the driver.
  • Soft Stop guarantees a smoother journey for all occupants. It allows the car to come to a perfectly smooth halt by releasing a small proportion of the braking pressure at the end of the braking cycle. In the event of an emergency, Soft Stop becomes inactive in order to achieve the shortest stopping distance.

The DSC+ system makes its debut on the new 5 Series models and will appear on other BMW models in the future. In addition, Servotronic speed-proportional power steering becomes standard on 5 Series Saloon models, having previously been offered as standard equipment on Touring variants.

Prices start at £26,350 for the 523i SE Saloon, rising to £36,950 for the 530i Sport Touring.