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Business as usual for BMW

The corporate car parks will soon have a refreshed BMW 5-Series model, writes Campbell Spray

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PRESENCE: The face-lifted BMW 5-Series, which arrives this summer, has a more striking design.

PRESENCE: The face-lifted BMW 5-Series, which arrives this summer, has a more striking design.

PRESENCE: The face-lifted BMW 5-Series, which arrives this summer, has a more striking design.

You may never have driven a BMW 5-Series, or even ever wanted to, but that German car with its Bavarian heritage has had a role in influencing your life. For many years, both in this country and abroad, it has been the default choice for executives as their company car. Even here in INM, the staff parking area used to be littered with them.

There were plenty of reasons for the success of the 5-Series. It was comfortable, powerful, and, courtesy of its rear-wheel drive, gave an exhilarating drive when pushed. Probably more importantly, it looked the part, with a muscular but sleek presence, which announced that its driver had arrived in the business world.

It wasn't perfect as many would have found out when the snow came, and, if they were not fitted with proper tyres, the car became a liability. Yet that is a rarity over here.

Some 600,000 of the present seventh generation of the 5-Series have been sold since it was introduced in 2017, but the line goes back to 1972 when it was launched with petrol engines only. Diesels only came 10 years later and purists would still say the petrol-injection models are the best and most exciting, although, because of our changes in emission policy, oil-burners became the norm over the past decade and more.

Now the 5-Series has been given a facelift - details of which were announced at 7.30am last Wednesday. This might be the new normal for launches, instead of taking journalists to exotic locations to test cars and over-exert their livers. It is, perhaps, just as well as at a BMW launch a few years ago in Spain, I was bitten by an insect which resulted in a 10-day stay in hospital with cellulitis, my co-driver had an almost-fatal heart attack a few weeks later, and the PR person accompanying us developed a severe fever. Setting the alarm clock at home seems a safer bet.

Full pricing will be announced in July, but for the moment we see that the car has had minor tweaks which give it a rather more striking design and better engines.

There will be a choice of plug-in hybrid models, with the latest fourth-generation battery technology including an all-new six-cylinder 545e xDrive Saloon and a four-cylinder 530e sDrive/xDrive Touring from November 2020. All other models get some mild-hybrid technology.

So much of the technology, comforts and safety equipment of BMW's flagship 7-Series has trickled down to the 5-Series, that makes it a smaller version of that luxury limousine. However, the driving excellence of the 5-Series has always been its strongest point and in this regard I have found it much better than its Audi and Mercedes competitors. But going back to that earlier snow warning, I do remember having to abandon the car over Christmas 10 years ago and use my wife's then small front-wheel drive Nissan Micra to get around.

Of course, the 5-Series as a saloon or estate/tourer will face competition from the increasing demand for SUVs and Crossovers, but don't expect the corporate world to turn its back on it yet. It has presence, and, by the look of it, the face-lifted model gives even more of it.

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For the 202 season, Seat, which has really come of age in developing from a company whose main model was the small Ibiza to having a full range of attractive SUVs, has announced 0pc PCP Finance available on all Ibiza, Leon, Arona, Ateca and Tarraco models and an optional three-month payment break, plus a heavily discounted three-year service plan. There is also an online discount of up to €3,000 and scrappage of up to €5,000 available on selected models.

As well as car offers, Seat is giving a price cit on the eXS KickScooter. The eScooter, powered by Segway, will be available for €549, reduced from €599, during the offer period. It is about time they were properly legislated for.

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I saw my first dead fox for sometime on the Navan Road last Sunday. It made me very sad and I hope it wasn't another victim of the awful speeding that is going on, despite the gardai's attempt to control it. The amount of car accidents and deaths - especially among pedestrians - has been frightening during a time when we are meant to be staying at home, looking after ourselves and not putting additional burdens on health and emergency services.

There are many sightings of foxes around Dublin during the Covid restrictions with emptier streets and some of their normal food supplies disappearing. There is one - thankfully still living - in Dalymount Park behind us and as I peek through the metal gates I see the fox playing on the pitch where soccer greats Liam Brady, Johnny Giles and Denis Irwin made their debuts and the place where Pele and his Santos teammates didn't really give a 30,000 crowd their money's worth in 1972.

Occasionally, the fox takes a trot down the lane as the dogs go out in the car to Phoenix Park for their morning walk. I have always great respect for foxes, perhaps more than for some of the people who chase them.

I wrote elsewhere in the paper recently about the death of my son, Daniel, five years ago and last year finally unpacking the boxes of all his books. Poignantly, among them, were three books: Run With the Wind, Run to Earth and Run Swift, Run Free in which Tom McCaughren gives captivating stories of life in the wild for a skulk of foxes.

Each of the books have an individual couple of sentences of dedication to Daniel from nearly 33 years ago by the author, RTE's long-time security correspondent and contributor to this paper. They're great stories and can't think of much better reading for your children or grandchildren.

Keep safe, and especially this bank holiday weekend, take it easy and look after yourself and other road users. We all have plenty of time to get where we are going.

Sunday Independent