BMW will begin the assembly of the long-wheelbase 5 Series in India sometime in early 2024. Following in the steps of the similarly stretched 3 Series Gran Limo, the new 5 will take on its main rival, the long-wheelbase E-Class, and hope to beat it at its own game.
The move isn’t unexpected; long-wheelbase sedans exert a strong pull in India. This has been proven time and again. Mercedes’ stretched E-Class dominates its segment, the 3 Series Gran Limo is moving steadily up the charts, and look elsewhere and long-wheelbase cars like Skoda’s Superb (basically a long-wheelbase Octavia) have found favour with Indian luxury car buyers too. Is it any wonder? Most luxury cars in India are chauffeur-driven and with owners predominantly sitting in the back, they appreciate the added legroom that only a stretched wheelbase can provide. In addition, you get rear seats with more recline, and manufacturers pack the rear of the car with added features and goodies.
Switching to a long-wheelbase version, however, isn’t a simple step. The current-gen 5 Series has a long-wheelbase version in China only – a market like our own when it comes to being chauffeur-driven. So, for the new-gen 5, apart from logistical challenges of combining powertrains from different parts of the world (there’s no diesel in China), there’s the thorny issue of conversion from left-hand drive to right-hand drive and re-certification of what effectively is a new car. But BMW has done it before with the 3 Series Gran Limo and so the 5 shouldn’t pose as much of a challenge.
BMW 5 Series LWB: platform, interior
The rear will have more legroom and a reclined backrest.
The new 5 Series, known as the G60, will be the last sedan BMW will build on its CLAR platform. The car we will get in India will be the right-hand drive, long-wheelbase version based on the Chinese car. Known as the G68, (the new 5 is the G60), it is expected to get a 130mm to 135mm longer wheelbase, a longer roof and longer rear doors. The rear doors are likely to offer better ingress and egress when compared to the stretched Mercedes E-Class. Unlike the stretched E, which uses a relatively short rear door (without a quarter glass), the long-wheelbase 5 Series has a door that stretches all the way back to the ‘C’ pillar.
The new dash will look similar to that of the new 7 Series.
Apart from the greater legroom, also expect a seat that reclines and is temperature controlled. Massaging seats are expected to be offered as an option, and a large panoramic roof is a given, but what BMW is also likely to provide are LED lights inserted into the glass panel above. Twin screens for rear-seat passengers are also likely. What BMW should specify is a 7 Series-like TV that folds down from the sunroof. There are no plans yet, but can you imagine the effect the screen would have? The long-wheelbase car is expected to come suspended by a regular coil spring suspension that is raised sufficiently to help deal with our roads and the addition of the longer wheelbase.
BMW 5 Series LWB: powertrain, exterior details
Engines are likely to be hybridised versions of the 3.0-litre petrol straight-six and BMW’s venerable 3.0 diesel. The petrol is likely to be similar in spec to the one that powers the X7 but not in the same state of tune. The roughly 325hp engine should get a 12hp and 200Nm electric boost and the 3.0 diesel is likely to have around 282hp and a very healthy 650Nm of torque.
Design-wise, spy shots reveal the new 5 will have a sharper-looking front-end and a more traditional kidney grille. No oversized grille is expected here. The design also appears to shy away from BMW’s new split headlamp arrangement, as seen on the new X7 and new 7 Series, and the more traditional set-up could work better for the 5. Also expected on the new 5 is an all-electric version – the i5 – that BMW India could, in theory, pencil in for the future.
That BMW will shake things up with the new LWB 5 Series is a given. It will bring a lot of excitement and attention to the market and will provide a viable alternative to the luxury car buyers who are fixated on the strengths of a long-wheelbase sedan. BMW’s 5 Series has never been a strong seller in India, but this could change everything.