That Milan is a fashion hub probably hasn’t escaped anyone who knows the definition of fashionable. Wherever one looks, one is met by pompous folk wearing clothes costing more than the BMW I had at my disposable. Our test car was equipped with the Luxury Line package which accentuates the 5-series’ (you guessed it) luxurious side. In the sea of black Mercs, a gray 5 Series manages to stick out.
It’s undeniably a stylish car. Even if the 5 Series doesn’t have as much aplomb or expresses as much success as its sibling, it’s vital to take an extra look just to ensure oneself that it is, in fact, a 5 Series. “Fake it ‘til you make it” seems like the suitable expression in this context even though I never felt like I brought the car out of its comfort zone, not even in Milan’s most exclusive neighborhoods. In other words, the 5 Series is as elegant as the 7 Series.
After having acted swank in a car that was not my own, it was Lake Como which was next on the agenda. It’s a place where individuals such as George Clooney and Madonna have summer houses – a melting pot of the elite. A most-suitable spot to see how classy the 5 Series is in other words. In an area where there are villas costing tens of millions of euros, cars such a Rolls-Royce Ghost are more at home.
The fact of the matter is that most cars one sees are Fit Pandas except for the occasional Ferrari and Lamborghini. If one is to believe George Clooney, everyone with money sits and sips espresso all day. Engine-wise, the 530d isn’t the choice for the one percent, but regarding extravaganza, the 5 Series indeed is of a high enough standard. The fact that our test car was as well-equipped as a Swiss army knife certainly aided the whole ordeal; everything from night vision to BMW Concierge Service to a sound system which would have blown Mozart’s mind was available. Just because one has a lot of money doesn’t mean one is wasteful. Of course, individuals belonging to the upper stratosphere will buy the 7 Series, as long as they don’t choose to steer the vessel themselves. The 5 Series is almost as exclusive as the 7 Series, even though BMW pretends that isn’t the case.
After Lake Como, it was the Autostrada all the way to Venice which was next. On the Italian highway, the 5 Series feels like home – the diesel-powered straight six developing 265 horsepower is plenty powerful enough. The same driving style that one applies to the German Autobahn can be implemented on the Italian Autostrada. The soft yet communicative suspension tackles irregularities in the road surface in a genuinely gracious manner. The presence in the fast lane is as high as for the 7 Series, probably because the car in front is tricked into thinking it is exactly that. Those who have common sense realize that driving a car in Venice is impossible. Instead, it’s boating that is the primary mode of transport. Naturally, that makes things somewhat difficult for an automotive magazine. Venice is famous for being incredibly cultural – an art hub – a place wherein German cars obviously have no place. That is unless one considering modernism; a BMW 5 Series has both a timeless design and is as minimalistic as a straight line: just like the 7 Series.
After having at least attempted to find the 5 Series artistic side in Venice, it was San Marino, one of the smallest countries in the world, which was to be explored. With a surface smaller than Manhattan and a population count rivaling Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, it comes as no surprise that it’s like Italy but on a hill. Just like San Marino, the 5 Series is isolated, and only the most essential of things can trickle into the car as to optimize the balance between driving pleasure and isolation. In that area, the 7 Series is significantly more calibrated towards being isolated while the 5 Series remains interested in making the experience behind the wheel as pleasurable as possible.
Portofino was next up on our itinerary; yet another melting pot for the elite – Italy’s last president, Silvio Berlusconi, has a villa here which happens to be the opposite of the 5 Series. Un-technological, un-innovative and old-fashioned. Both the 5- and 7 Series offer as much technology and innovation as each other. Since the 7 Series was the first one out the factory doors, it comes as no surprise that everything has been implemented in the 5 Series. In Portofino, I bumped into numerous 7-series, and even though it has more composure than its younger sibling it doesn’t become a question about self-consciousness, instead it’s a matter of necessity. If one can afford to buy the 7 Series, it’s a given – a flagship is always a flagship – but frankly, it’s only a requirement if one, in fact, has a chauffeur.
Spending a week at Italy’s most exclusive locations together with a BMW 5 Series which was uniquely luxurious concretized my postulations. In the case of BMW, they’ve run out of fantasy when it comes to design. They have also run out imagination when it comes to the feeling they want to singularize behind the wheel. In essence, that entails that a BMW 530d equipped with the Luxury Line-package is similar enough to a 730d that it leads to a form of cannibalism. It’s either possible to state that the 5 Series is too good of a car for BMW’s intentions or praise them for offering a miniature version of the 7 Series at a reasonable price. Driving the new 5 Series through Italy – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.