Entry Price: $56,450
Price as Tested: $82,610
This week, we’re driving BMW’s all-new 5-Series 2017 540i sedan, a new “G30” version and outgrowth of one of the most popular BMW 540i’s of all time, namely the “E39” nomenclature 540i that debuted in 1995.
Being that I personally own a 1999 BMW 540i that’s been in the family since brand new, I can speak from an extra bit of “bimmer” experience about a car that is truly built to impress be it a 1999 or a 2017 model. (By the way, “bimmer” is slang for BMW cars, beemer/beamer for BMW motorcycles).
Fast forward to the new generation 2017 540i and there are many differences yet numerous similarities. Most notable of is a more luxurious ride than the E39 version, the latter which performed like a powerful four-door sports car more so than its luxurious sedan genes. Although still a very capable 2017 version of the 540i in both performance and opulence, the new motif finds BMW sharing some 7-Series platform enhancements to perhaps better adapt to the aging baby boomer consumer without hurting millennial sales. And, even though the older E39 style “performance enhanced” ride is a bit more forgiving, the 2017 540i is still one outstanding vehicle regardless of age demographics.
Our tester arrived in rear-drive format powered by the TwinPower Turbo 3.0-liter inline-6 cylinder rated at 335 horsepower. Notable here is that TwinPower Turbo does not mean two turbos, as this turbo relies on some electrical assistance to completely dampen out any initial turbo lag. Back in 1999, the 540i came powered by a 4.4-liter V8 so under the hood is a major divergence.
This new G30 540i is now in its seventh generation dating all the way back to 1972. The above mentioned inline-6 is peppier than the 1999 540i by quite a bit as zero to 60 arrives in less than 5 seconds thanks to the turbo (332 lb. ft. of torque) and that extra burst of low end power. Our 1999 M Sport reached 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds flat from a 282 horse fuel injected V8 that delivered similar 324 lb. ft. of torque. Additionally, instead of my ’99’s six-speed manual, the 2017 540i comes with an eight-speed paddle-shift Sport automatic geared for both acceleration and fuel mileage.
Perhaps the biggest change over the years has been 540i’s mass, as the wheelbase now is 5.7 inches longer than our E39 model and it weighs about 300 lbs. more. Considering the performance advantage, I’d say BMW did a great job in the acceleration category and then ups the ante by delivering spacious interior dimensions and outstanding fuel mileage at 20 city and 30 highway EPA estimates. (Well done BMW).
Now to the biggest 540i drawback, namely BMW’s extra cost options. From a base price including $995 delivery of $57,445, our BMW came in at a final price of $82,610 which means along the way this particular 540i tagged on $25,165 worth of options. To me, that’s incredible and worthy of some extra explanation.
Although I don’t have room to print every single option, some options are worthy while others are questionable. Included are the $2,600 M Sport package; three Driving Assistance packages that add the enhanced driver safety options for $4,900; a Dynamic Handling package for $3,200; Luxury Seating is $1,600; a Premium Package is $1,950; and a head scratching $4,200 extra buys you a 16-speaker, 1,400 watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system. Apple Car Play you say? Well that’s another $300, thank you. I do like the M Sport brakes for $650, but you would think that when you pay $2,600 for the M Sport package, you shouldn’t be charged another $650 for the M Sport brakes. Anyway, you get the idea.
Option pricing aside, let’s talk driving. On the road, this new 540i is superb on any road thanks to the M Sport’s 19-inch run flat tires on nice alloy wheels. The steering wheel gives great feedback and the car adheres well in every category to the 540i performance/luxury dogma. The interior, meanwhile, is one of the overall high points excelling in quality build, quiet surroundings and comfort.
When you push the new 540i in a tighter corner, the results are impressive and when you need to stop fast, those $650 extra brakes are some of the best in the business. On the safety side, you’ll receive all of the latest in air bags, dynamic traction and stability controls and three selectable driving modes including Economy, Comfort or Sport.
In summary, when you put all of this together even with the expensive extras, you end up with a pretty nice if not outstanding $82,610 BMW 540i, which is all new and ready for any and all freeways or winding country roads. The BMW Five Series also includes a four cylinder 530i and a V8 powered 550i series in rear or AWD modes. Your BMW dealer will gladly explain everything when you visit.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 117.1-inches, 3,847 lb. curb weight, 18-gallon fuel tank, 39.5 ft. turning circle and 18.7 cu. ft. of cargo space.
In summary, this all-new 2017 540i is yet another outstanding example of BMW’s leadership in motor car construction, bar none. It is a world class car that will please drivers and passengers in every manner. And at this juncture of the year, it’s perhaps the very best car I’ve driven this year.
Likes: Turbo inline-6, spectacular interior, looks, legend.
Dislikes: Options push price within $7,500 of 7-Series land.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions at email@example.com.
Test Drive: 2017 BMW 540i
Entry Price: $56,450