The interior of the new 5 Series is exactly what we expected: cushier than a 3 Series but less elegant than the 7 Series – so perfectly in the middle of what BMW is capable of in terms of cabin design. BMW’s iDrive 8.5 operating system makes an appearance here, living on the brand’s Curved Display, which comprises a 14.9-inch central display and a 12.3-inch instrument cluster. A new interface makes it slightly easier to quickly access functions from the home screen, but we still found the latest iDrive to have a steep learning curve. When you first hop in, the lack of physical buttons is overwhelming, but you’ll get used to it with time.
We didn’t have time to sample AirConsole, a feature that lets you play video games on the infotainment screen, but it seems like a decent time killer while charging. The BMW Interaction Bar, which first appeared on the 7 Series, is standard on i5 and optional on 530i. It adds a splash of color to the cabin and can be customized by the driver.
Extended Merino Leather is available for $2,450, but don’t knock the standard Veganza (vegan leather) until you have tried it. It’s soft, looks and feels like real leather, and comes in a variety of colors: Smoke White, Burgundy Red, Espresso Brown, Black, and Black M with Alcantara. It’s such a huge upgrade over Sensatec, and we can’t wait to see it on more models.