The eighth generation of the iconic BMW 5 Series is finally upon us. Dubbed the G60, it gets many upgrades and even features a fully-electric powertrain in the i5. With it, more restrained design revisits the BMW world. Here’s what Adrian van Hooydonk – BMW Design Director – had to share about it in a brief chat with BMWBLOG.
The New BMW 5 Series is Important
“i5 is going to be a super important car for us,” Van Hooydonk states. “It is a long, elegant, sporty sedan and that, for me, is the essence of any BMW. And the 5 Series, of course, is the core of the brand in many, many markets,” he continues. While the US only bought 24,523 5 Series in 2021, Europe bought up 52,000 in the same year. So, undeniably an important product. Van Hooydonk continues: “It is a car for customers that like to drive longer distances and like to drive a bit faster. So, it’s for people that know very well, what BMW is all about.” Here’s hoping it drives like it.
He goes on to talk about the challenges of cramming an electric powertrain under the sheet metal of the new 5 Series. Getting a battery pack under the floor means adding around three inches to the car, a challenge the team managed to overcome. “I think the overall silhouette the whole roofline came out rather elegant,” Van Hooydonk says. He cites bigger wheel diameter as another factor.
Individual Identity and Where the 5 Series Fits In
Another goal for van Hooydonk and his team was ensuring that the new BMW 5 Series had an identity completely separate from the new 7 Series – particularly, the i7. Regarding the electrified 7er, “that’s a car with a lot of presence,” Van Hooydonk notes. “A front end, or BMW face, like no other car. So now you will see with the i5 that these cars are very individual characters.”
It sounds like the days of an instantly recognizable BMW might be long behind us. “If we want to grow further, in terms of sold cars, then you need to give each and every vehicle, a strong and distinct character of its own. So that people actually have a choice,” Van Hooydonk says. He claims some markets negatively react to vehicles, particularly the 5 Series and 7 Series, resembling one another.
Most of what’s been happening at the BMW design house lately is rooted in setting themselves apart from other brands. But it isn’t a recent development. “Setting the cars apart and trying to give each of them their own character is something that we set out on quite a few years ago. And it hasn’t been questioned since,” he claims. While he acknowledges the importance of making them look related, it’s important for each vehicle to have its own personality.
That’s part of the reason you’ll note horizontal grilles, and not vertical, on the 5 Series. “Horizontal it tends to look sportier. And if you go more vertical, of course it adds presence or status. We tried vertical also in the design phase, but even with different headlamps, it begins to sneak up on the 7 very quickly,” he says. That makes sense since the 5 Series is naturally more sporting than the 7 Series. It’s also nice to see the more familiar horizontal slats back on a modern BMW.
Perhaps it’s a sign of good things to come.