More of the same and slight price increases, but we’re not complaining.
Three model years after the G30-generation 5 Series hit production lines, BMW now breathes some extra goodies into and updates the aesthetics of its bread-and-butter mid-size executive sedan for the 2021 model year. Aside from subtle exterior and interior updates, BMW reworked the plug-in hybrid 530e and 530e xDrive powertrain and incorporated a mild-hybrid setup on six-cylinder models.
Visually, the 2021 BMW 5 Series is, well, more BMW-y than ever, with a reworked nose and derriere that includes—you guessed it—increased surface area of the signature kidney grille. Like a creeping mold, BMW continues to pick and pull at the edges of the grille on all of its updated models, though we must admit the slatted nose on the 2021 edition is far more reserved than those seen on the 7 Series and X7. However, it does lengthen the 2021 BMW 5 Series by an additional 1.2 inches.
Framing the new face is a pair of updated standard adaptive LED headlights, complemented by a set of similarly updated taillights that sit above reworked trapezoidal tailpipes. Spring for the popular M Sport package, and the newly redesigned front and rear bumpers and rear diffuser add a bit of aggression; the M550i incorporates similar visual tweaks from the M Sport package as well. If this all sounds rather minor, you’re correct—if you like your leased 2020 model, you’ll more than likely be just as happy with the 2021.
Changes inside are minimal. A standard 12.3-inch central infotainment display is bigger than the prior 10.25-inch display, along with a corresponding 12.3-inch instrument display and standard Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Materials are updated slightly, primarily limited to new dash options and upgraded standard SensaTec upholstery for the four- and six-cylinder cars. Finally, all center-console buttons are now finished in gloss black.
New for 2021 is a 48-volt mild-hybrid system for the six-cylinder 540i and 540i xDrive cars. We first saw this tech on the European-market 520d, and figured it was only a matter of time before the U.S. got its hands on BMW’s latest and greatest whizzbangery. Joining German compatriots Audi and Mercedes-Benz in the mild-hybrid space, BMW’s 3.0-liter six-cylinder is augmented by a 48-volt starter/generator connected to a second battery providing the requisite smooth start/stop coasting function, and a small, temporary 11-horsepower boost. Other than that, the 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbo six-cylinder puts down the same 335 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque through the same eight-speed ZF-sourced transmission.
Speaking of hybrids, the 530e and 530e xDrive plug-in hybrid get some love from Munich as well, with a new goofily named XtraBoost function added from the BMW 330e. When you press the throttle all the way to the kickdown button, XtraBoost comes on for a brief burst of an additional 40 hp, returning a combined 288 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque-up 40 hp from the prior 2020 530e. Zero-60-mph runs are now, according to BMW, 0.1-second quicker, clocking in at 5.7 seconds on the way to a top speed of 130 mph with all-season tires. The 2021 BMW 5 Series’ top speed increases to 146 mph with performance tires, and to 143 mph with performance tires for the all-wheel-drive 530e xDrive.
Other than the 530e’s new XtraBoost capability and the 540i’s new mild hybrid, the 530i and M550i’s powertrain is unchanged. The 530i arrives with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 248 hp and 258 lb-ft. Make the big, big jump to the range-topping (non-M) M550i and you’ll enjoy the same 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 with 523 hp and 553 lb-ft.
BMW altered pricing slightly for 2021, with incremental jumps in MSRP by only a few hundred dollars. The 530i starts at $55,195, the 530i xDrive at $57,495, the 540i at $60,445, the 540i xDrive at $62,745, and the mighty M550i xDrive at $77,792. However, the 2021 530e and 530e xDrive make a moderate $3,300 jump to $58,195 and $60,495, respectively.
Interested? Get in touch with your local dealer now, as order books are open for the 2021 BMW 5 Series, with deliveries slated for July of this year.