BMW Great Britain has announced on-the-road prices and full UK specification for the new 5 series in its key right-hand-drive market. On sale from 18 September 2003, the new line-up will feature new lightweight chassis components, increased performance, new technology, higher levels of standard specification and more space than the outgoing range and the launch choice of 520i, 520i and 530d, all in SE trim, will be priced from £25,455.00 to £30,950.00.

These three will be joined in October by the 192bhp 525i SE (£26,955.00) and the range-topping 333 bhp 545i SE (£41,555.00), at which time the 520i SE automatic and a sequential manual gearbox for the 530i SE and 545i SE will also appear.

UK customers can now specify optional service and maintenance inclusive, first offered with the 7 series, a five year/60,000 mile Europe-wide package, priced at £750.00.

All three launch models have a six-speed manual gearbox as standard and a six-speed automatic is optional on the 530i and 530d, for £1,350.00.

All new 5 series have automatic air conditioning, part-electric seats and a revised iDrive controller with colour screen. The new iDrive concept, revised following considerable criticism of the set-up in the 7-series in which it debuted, features an improved colour-coded display and the system now allows the owner to pre-programme many of the car’s comfort systems, with a default menu button aiding navigation around the system. The 530i and 530d also get park distance control with pictogram and metallic paint as standard.

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All models have eight airbags, a tyre puncture warning system and ‘run flat’ tyres on 17″ wheels and above (16″ is standard on six-cylinder cars, 17″ standard on 545i SE), alongside stability and traction control. BMW also claims improvements in fuel economy, efficiency and CO2 emissions, partly as a result of a weight reduction over the current model. The new car is now up to 55kgs lighter than the outgoing line, thanks to all-aluminium chassis, suspension, front wings and bonnet.

This being a BMW line, a vast selection of often pricey optional equipment is on offer, including active steering. Priced at £810.00, the system varies the steering ratio electronically in direct relation to the style and speed of driving.

Similar to the system on the 7 series, £1,500 dynamic drive acts on the anti-roll bars to reduce the roll angle whilst cornering, allowing the car to corner flatter, assisting in-corner stability.
A BMW first is a head-up display, projecting information such as road speed or navigation instructions onto the windscreen.

Adaptive headlamps are also available. The £270.00 system, linked with the £650.00 Xenon lights, improves visibility by swivelling the headlamps by up to 15 degrees to ‘see’ round corners, focusing on where the car is travelling rather than where it is pointing.

Three seat options – sports, comfort and active – are also offered. Active seats ‘massage’ the driver and passenger while seat ventilation is also available. Three different leathers – Dakota, Nasca and Exclusive are differentiated by texture and quality.

Active cruise control (£1,380) reduces power and applies the brakes to maintain the desired distance from a vehicle in front but accelerates back to the pre-set speed when possible.

BMW is the latest car maker to pretend their older buyers have hours – and the right home computer – available for transferring favourite cassette compilations to CD, axing the tape player and shipping the 5-series standard with only a CD player and six-speaker audio system. Bonus points to Lexus, VW and others for continuing to offer CD/tape/radio combinations.

BMW offers a 10-speaker hi-fi system for an extra £355.00 as well as the range topping Logic 7 professional system at £845.00.

But no add-on cassette deck, something you can get in a Mazda 6 or Honda Accord.