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New 5 will just blow you away

Picture the most beautiful woman on the planet.

Take the gorgeous Megan Fox, Penelope Cruz or Eva Mendes.

Now, try to improve upon them.

Make them even more irresistible, hotter, sexier.

It's not easy is it?

That is the exact dilemma put to a group of the best automotive designers and engineers money can buy.

They had one big problem though -- these are German designers and engineers and, more often than not, you get a lot more than you bargained for.



BEAUTY

The results are there for all to see in the new 5 Series, but beauty, my friends, is indeed more than skin deep.

You see, in the case of the fickle world of show business, a plastic surgeon may make you look younger and more vibrant, but he won't make you a better actress.

Now, if the old 5 were a fairytale it could only be the ugly duckling which blossomed into a beautiful swan. And there the romance began.

Well for me, anyway.

The E60, made between 2003 and now, had what a very dear friend calls the sexy/ugly thing going on, which is based on the adage that not all beautiful women are sexy ... and vice versa.

The Chris Bangle design is now the stuff of legend.

She was a curious-looking creature, not very inviting, but when you climbed into the cockpit and fired her up ... hmmm, sheer driving pleasure.

The 5 Series was born in 1972 and with 5.5 million happy customers today, the hugely successful model makes up for half of all BMW profits.

It was that perfect balance of fine handling, unstoppable power, torque and unrivalled drive which won over all of its critics, with some conceding that the "look will even grow on you".

The exact same applies here, except in reverse.

Despite the ergonomics boffin droning on about how sexier, younger and dynamic they made it, Cupid didn't strike and I wasn't left feeling all woosy and faint.

In fact, I think it's too conservative and they've played it too safe this time.

The natural beauty of, well, er, natural ugliness of the 5 has melted into mediocrity.

So, I may have been a tad disappointed by the look but would the same apply in the saddle?

Absolutely not.

How could it?

Its older brother was perfection -- so how could BMW possibly improve on that? Simple, really.

They just made it bigger, quicker and more economical.

Take the 530D which churns out a whopping 245bhp, has CO2 omissions of 160g/km and returns over 40mpg.



technology

Thanks to the stop-start technology (borrowed from the Mini range) the 523i has the same green credentials of 160 and 204bhp.

But their secret weapon is the not-so-humble 520D (due here in June) which will have Irish drivers queueing around the block with the lure of 184bhp, CO2s of 132 grammes (€156 road tax) and an amazing 50mpg. Oh and leather as standard.

Couple that with their most advanced eight-speed automatic gearbox and suspension technologies -- taken from the 7 series -- and throw in a few goodies like Parking Assistant (which parks for you), Surround View, Collision Warning (automatic braking in an emergency), Lane Change Warning and Head-Up Display and the job is Oxo.

New double-wishbone suspension at the front is said to strike the best balance yet between handling and comfort, while the Drive Dynamic Control system lets drivers regulate throttle, steering and gearbox settings via four modes -- Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport+.

If you're not a big fan of the oil burner then the three straight-six petrol engines -- the 523i, 528i and 535i --all with direct fuel injection are an absolute dream.

The turbocharged 535i delivers 302bhp and hits 60mph in just six seconds, and for good measure an Aston Martin-type rasp squeals like a banshee when you drop the hammer as she bottoms out at 8,000rpm.

On the race track in Estoril this put more than a smile on my face as did the more rigid chassis which pinned this super saloon to the ground and made it corner like she was literally on rails.

Pound for pound this BMW is, if you'll excuse the plug, the ultimate driving mMachine.

If our Bavarian matchmakers can manage to keep the price to around €44,000, then it will be a case of love at first sight . . . even for me.


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