New 5 series or a facelift?Pay attention. This is the seventh generation of the longest-selling BMW model ever. In India - also the best-selling BMW - it is the third generation change. So, an all-new car.Looks quite familiar for an all-new car?Yes, because it now looks similar to the bigger 7 series. So you probably think nothing seems to have changed much. But put the new car next to an older 5 series, and you will notice how much the front has changed. The kidney grille now stretches all the way to the headlamps, which themselves appear wider. A chrome brow on the grille aligns itself with the DRL on the headlamps. The bumper is more pronounced now with larger rectangular fog lamp recesses, compared to the sleeker older cars. Crisper, more modern and tad more aggressive. Silhouette is similar but the roof has been pulled further down at the rear – more coupe-like. Rear taillights are homogenous rather than the two-part piece on the outgoing model.So, has it grown too like others?A few millimetres but you would hardly notice without an actual measuring tape. However, that does not mean the interior space hasnt changed. Magically, the designers have been able to free up more space for rear passengers and also for their luggage in the boot. More importantly, what the engineers have done is reduce the weight massively. Clever design and lots of aluminium and magnesium coupled with high-strength steel has made it as much as 100 kilos lighter than its predecessor in certain trims. No, there is no extensive use of carbon fibre, but lighter metal alloy and clever design alone has helped.Speaking of trims, what engines are on offer?At its worldwide launch coming February, the new 5 series will come with two petrol – 530i and 540i – and two diesel – 520d and 530d – engines. Except for the base 520d, all will be mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. There will be xDrive (all-wheel-drive) versions too. Of course, India will get only the rear wheel drive 530d to start with. And most likely the 530i for those who are wary of putting money on a diesel car right now.No M5?Of course, an M550i xDrive will join the range soon which should be pretty insane. On the saner side, there will be a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid too. No plans of getting either to India right away.In which case tell a bit more about the variant coming to India…That will be the 530d. Its the same six-cylinder, 3-litre unit as in the bigger 7 series. To elaborate, the engine hardware is the same but everything else has been modified to suit the smaller 5. BMW rates peak power of this at 262bhp. Its one of the smoothest diesel engines we have ever encountered. There is very little diesel clatter or vibrations. And it builds power rather seamlessly with the help of the twin turbos. What helps is the rather large helpings of torque. Does 620 Newton-metres sound enough? Yes, we think so too. All this makes the new 5 series a rather nimble limo to push if you feel the urge. Cross country trips should be effortless with all this meat on offer.How effortless?The dash to 100kph from standstill is a claimed 5.7s for the RWD version. Top speed is an electronically-controlled 250kph.And fuel efficiency?Knew that was coming. While the European test figure is an unachievable 21kpl, expect it to be around half in our desi road and traffic conditions. Which means the car should do around 500-550km of city and highway use on a full tank of diesel. Compared to a similar spec outgoing 5, the new 530d efficiency is up 12%. Want me to do the math?No, I will pass. What about other smaller diesel?Unfortunately, that wasnt available to drive. But most likely that engine won't be available at launch next year, in India, because of our general aversion of ticking the manual gearbox option when it comes to luxury cars - the 520d RWD is only available with a six-speed manual box.What about the petrol?We drove the 540i which has a 3-litre unit. And it's quite potent with peak power hovering around 337bhp. Torque is also a handsome 450Nm. Together this gives it some serious sprinting ability. To put that in figures, dash to 100kph will take just over 5 seconds. Of course, this will pale when the M car arrives on the scene with an army of an additional 120 horses.What about driving pleasure?Bottomline for someone interested in a BMW – driving pleasure. The sixth-gen car was a clear departure from the earlier 5s. It was the softest so far keeping with the Munich companys deliberate intent of making its cars more practical for everyday urban use. Of course, the new 5 isnt going back to being BMW of the last decade when it comes to driving abilities but it should bode well for the Indian audience. The steering isnt too heavy and you wont have aching arms at the end of a rush hour journey to and fro from office. On the limit, it keeps things calm. Steering is a tad over-assisted but we are nitpicking here considering how critical we get when it comes to rating a BMWs steering feel. Maybe some other manufacturer would have got a few slaps on the back if it could manage this sort of driving feel as is in the new 5.So, is that a good thing or bad?If you want a crisp-handling BMW, the new 5 series wont rock your boat. Try the 3, in that case. Nevertheless, it isnt a slouch and wont leave you high and dry if you take a fast curve or flick the car through lane changes.It will be a fine everyday luxury car then?Little doubt about that. The new 5 series carries a whole lot of tech, enough to make even a geek get interested in cars. It can change lanes on its own, brake and even correct steering inputs to keep the car in the lane. The four-wheel drive models get four-wheel steer too, where the rear wheels point in the opposite side of front wheels at low speeds to take tight corners better and in the same direction at high speeds to give better control. You can even park it with the help of its remote key while standing outside the car.That sounds quite interesting…It is. What also is that the interiors have been completely re-done. Apart from freeing up more space, the new 5 gets an all-new dashboard. Major change here is that the iDrive display has now been moved from the centre to the top of the dashboard. And it is touchscreen. A nice one with a modern, phone-like tactile feel and interface. BMW has worked out flaws in the earlier iDrive systems well making the latest the most user-friendly so far. The leather, wood and overall finish in this European-spec car featured here looks top notch. Hope BMW India can replicate this for India too.Almost forgot, what about ride quality?Top notch again. Possibly the best compromise we see in this segment when it comes to setting up the suspension for an ideal ride and handling balance. No air suspension but the 5 series just stuffs out road gaps and small potholes. It is in proper limo territory, especially in the Comfort mode.Oh, so there are driving modes too?Yes, of course. Sport, Comfort and Eco Pro. We drove the car in Portugal where the roads are only marginally better than most of India. And we pretty much got away riding in Sport mode all day. There is also the option of individually tweaking the various dynamic settings like engine response and ride in this mode.Audi already offers that. Speaking of which, how will you rate the new 5 series against its competition?Tricky to answer right away considering we do not have details on price and what trims will be offered. But the new 5 series does have a slight edge over its traditional rival, the Mercedes E-Class. In terms of driving pleasure, it loses to the Jaguar XF by a whisker but makes up for it with the rest of the tech, interiors and performance. It has an edge over the A6 for sure. But the underdog to watch is Volvo which offers a really super value package in the S90.When is the 5 series expected in India? What price?Expect it just before Diwali next year. Global prices have not been announced yet but if BMW could slot it at Rs 55-60 lakh ex-showroom, it wont have trouble to keep its best-selling BMW in India title intact.Specs530d xDrive\: 2993cc, V6, diesel, 8A, 262bhp, 620Nm, 5.4s, 250kph, 1715kg530i\: 1998cc, in-line 4, turbo-petrol, 8A, 248bhp, 350Nm, 6.2s, 250kph, 1615kgLxWxH\: 4936x2126x1479mm; wheelbase\: 2975mm; boot space\: 530 litres; fuel tank\: 66 litresPrice\: Rs 49.9 - 61.3 lakh, ex-showroom.VerdictA wannabe 7 series but thankfully only in design, comfort and space. Not a driver's car but that's not a concern for a limo this size.