2021 BMW 540i xDrive First Take a look at: Fast, However Not Precisely Enjoyable


The seventh technology of the BMW 5 Sequence, coded “G30,” has not earned common reward at MotorTrend as had some earlier fashions. When it competed in our 2018 Automotive of the 12 months contest, we chided its “numb dealing with and response” and lamented “an anodyne really feel that permeates all of those 5 Sequence entries.” We attributed that largely to BMW’s choice emigrate the 5 to the structure that underpins the bigger, heavier 7 Sequence. In our luxurious midsize class rankings, the 5 has trailed the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6, and at occasions even the Lexus ES.

Properly, BMW has sharpened its pencils and rolled out a revamped G30 5 Sequence for 2021. This new 5 Sequence boasts a great deal of element enhancements, together with a 48-volt gentle hybrid system for the heart-of-market 540i, in direct competitors with the same gentle hybrid setup discovered within the Mercedes E450. Is it sufficient to bump the 5er up in our rankings? With its new gentle hybrid system, is it the perfect luxurious hybrid sedan?

How Fast Is the 2021 BMW 540i xDrive Delicate Hybrid?

The quick reply could also be “as fast because it must be to cube with its archrival from Sindelfingen.” Sure, inline-six engines augmented with 48-volt gentle hybridization are this season’s “new black” in engine-compartment couture. We lately examined a Mercedes-Benz E450 4Matic sedan powered by simply such a powertrain rated at 362 hp and 369 lb-ft, and it zipped to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds en path to a 13.3-second, 103.2-mph quarter mile. It additionally helped that mannequin win our 2021 Automotive of the 12 months award.

Our 540i xDrive managed to hit these respective marks in 4.6 and 13.2 seconds with a 106.1-mph entice velocity. At first that appears spectacular on condition that the BMW makes do with eight transmission ratios whereas the Benz will get 9, however then you definitely do some math and understand the Mercedes’ general gearing is notably taller, probably in an try and claw again some gas financial system for its heavier automobiles. Our check BMW weighed 171 kilos much less and is EPA-rated 2 mpg greater on the freeway and 1 mpg greater mixed (23/32/27 mpg versus the Mercedes E450 4Matic’s 23/30/26).

The final 540i we examined, a 79-pounds-lighter, rear-wheel-drive 2017-model-year instance sans electrification, wanted 4.9 seconds to hit 60 mph and did the quarter in 13.5 seconds at 106.2 mph. BMW claims that distinction is fully all the way down to the xDrive’s improved traction—certainly, BMW’s present zero-to-60-mph estimates match our outcomes completely (4.9 seconds for the hybridized rear-driver, 4.6 for the xDrive).

So What Does the Hybrid Drive Contribute?

Properly, if not velocity, there’s an EPA mixed gas financial system bump of three mpg with rear drive and Four mpg with xDrive attributable to the gentle hybrid bits. Past that, BMW refuses to reveal torque specs for the 540i’s belt-alternator-starter unit, stating solely that it contributes 10.7 horsepower. Not divulging a torque quantity permits BMW to keep away from explaining a distinction between motor torque and its contribution to crankshaft torque.

See, Mercedes sandwiches the E-Class’ EQ Increase motor between the engine and transmission, the place it contributes its 21 hp and 184 lb-ft on to the crankshaft. In contrast BMW’s alternator-starter delivers torque through a belt and pulleys, so the crankshaft contribution will get multiplied by the distinction in these pulley diameters (which I measured as 2.25 inches on the alternator and 6.75 inches on the crankshaft). So if the motor generates 45 lb-ft (a typical worth for such gadgets), that will amplify to 135 lb-ft on the crank. What these gentle hybrid motors primarily do for his or her turbocharged engines is erase any sensation of preliminary increase lag as a result of they make their greatest energy/torque contribution in the mean time you hit the accelerator. Electrical help then tapers off as turbo increase builds. The driving force by no means feels something however clean, linear acceleration in both of those automobiles.

Hybrid = Sportier Sport Mode

Having an additional electrical motor and 0.48-kWh battery on board offers the pc programmers yet another dial to twist when programming the drive modes. Certain sufficient, while you have interaction Sport or Sport+ mode within the 540i, the system aggressively tops up the battery to make sure that regardless of how shut collectively the corners are in your favourite again street, you’ll have full battery help energy on faucet at each nook exit. Drop again into EcoPro or Consolation mode, and the system permits the battery state of cost to renew hovering at round 60 p.c to go away room for recovering vitality when coasting or braking to a cease.

So Is the BMW 540i the Greatest Luxurious Hybrid Sedan?

Heavens, no. It’s not even the perfect luxurious hybrid 5 Sequence. That honor goes to the plug-in 530e, which augments a barely depowered 2.0-liter turbo-four with a much bigger 107-hp, 77-lb-ft motor mounted within the transmission and powered by a 12.0-kWh (9.1 kWh web) battery. With a mixed output of 288 hp and 310 lb-ft, the 530e shaves a pair valuable tenths off the gas-only 530i’s acceleration occasions for a 6.0-second sprint to 60 mph and a 14.4-second, 97.5-mph quarter-mile run whereas delivering 65 or 69 mpg-e (AWD vs. RWD) mixed gas financial system in blended gasoline/electrical driving.

Including a battery and a fancier alternator has completed little to handle our considerations in regards to the anodyne nature of the ostensibly sportier 540i’s driving expertise. In any case, it’s nonetheless based mostly on greater, heavier 7 Sequence underpinnings. We older staffers nonetheless vividly bear in mind the glory years (largely the 1990s E34 and E39 generations) of 5 Sequence dynamic brilliance, and we nonetheless miss it. That doesn’t imply the brand new 540i isn’t any enjoyable to fling round a technical stretch of deserted roadway. Quite the opposite, its dynamic conduct is essentially faultless, the automobile by no means places a wheel flawed, and we by no means discovered ourselves needing to switch a steering or brake enter midcorner. Its transmission instinctively selects the perfect gear for each scenario within the Sport modes, its shift paddles carry on the spot shifts when desired in Consolation mode, and the trip management stays agency but supple. We simply want for extra street really feel on the steering wheel rim and to be much less conscious of variation within the ratio as velocity adjustments, and to really feel extra moved by the entire expertise.

And Is the Midcycle Refreshed 5 Sequence a Higher Luxurious Automotive?

Sure, the relentless march of progress improves all automobiles, and the refreshed 5 Sequence isn’t any totally different; the inside of this 540i is swathed in rich-looking mocha leather-based with ample distinction stitching and piping and attention-grabbing air flow perforation patterns. However the basic design of the inside continues to path the inside designs of the Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class. We applaud BMW’s intensive efforts at presenting attention-grabbing infographics on the numerous configurable cluster, heart, and head-up shows, and the iDrive management knob is by now a identified amount and an acknowledged chief within the infotainment consumer expertise, rating properly forward of the latest redesign of the Mercedes-Benz Person Expertise (MBUX). However within the mixture and contemplating all the important thing standards on which we choose Of The 12 months contenders, the BMW 5 Sequence nonetheless trails the Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class whereas outperforming the Lexus ES, Genesis G80, and Volvo S90 in our phase rankings.

2021 BMW 540i xDrive
BASE PRICE $62,745
VEHICLE LAYOUT Entrance-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 3.0L/335-hp/332-lb-ft turbo DOHC 24-valve I-6 plus 11-hp/45-lb-ft* elec motor, 335 hp/332 lb-ft (comb)
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automated
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,159 lb (55/45%)
WHEELBASE 117.1 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 195.Eight x 73.5 x 58.2 in
0-60 MPH 4.6 sec
QUARTER MILE 13.2 sec @ 106.1 mph
BRAKING, 60-Zero MPH 110 ft
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 147/105 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.74 lb/mile
*Torque estimated at starter/alternator; 135 lb-ft est at crankshaft


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