Safety is a crucial element in the car-buying process. There are so many regulatory tests in so many countries that it’s routine for a car to have a weak link by favoring one test over another.
In the case of our long-turm BMW 530i, the sore spots of its predecessor have been addressed. Our 2017 model achieved Good scores in all five crash tests conducted by IIHS. (NHTSA has not yet tested the 2017 5 Series sedan).
These tests include the prickly small-overlap evaluation that replicates what happens when your car shears an oncoming vehicle at 40 mph. Measurements taken on the crash dummy indicated a low risk of significant injuries. By contrast, last-year’s preredesign 5 Series received a significantly less-enticing “Marginal” small-overlap score, so that’s a big improvement.
Like the previous model, the 2017 BMW 5 Series achieved a front crash prevention score of Superior. The model features two different optional front crash prevention systems, and both earned IIHS’ highest possible score. Thanks to the 530i’s autobrake technology, the model completely avoided collisions at test speeds of 12 mph and 25 mph.
In the difficult headlight evaluation, the 5 Series scored a Good rating, but only when equipped with the optional Lighting or Premium package. To qualify for a 2017 Top Safety Pick+ award, a vehicle must earn Good ratings in all crash tests, an Advanced or Superior rating in front crash prevention, and headlights deemed Acceptable or Good. Still, confidence inspiring.
With that reassuring safety data in the back of my head, I begin investigating some of the safety systems that prevent crashes in the first place—most notably the car’s on-board cameras and sensors.
When you are driving around, notice all the cars around you with those low-speed scrapes and dings. We are a nation of bad parkers. But with the 530i, it is never a sweaty moment.
With surround view and close-up cameras in addition to radar-proximity systems, the 530i easily glides into the tightest of spaces in our pole-festooned parking structure. Laid over a crisp video screen, guiding lines based on steering angle, color coding of obstacle distance, and audio cues for urgent matters combine to give the driver all the information he or she needs to know to squeeze between our jacked-up Nissan Titanpickup and the hulking Roadkill van. Yes, a lot of cars have this technology. But the BMW executes this task very, very well.
I’ve also had the opportunity to test the low-speed crash avoidance system, which is essentially a noisy alert to hit the brakes if you are distracted by, say, texting on your phone (which you shouldn’t have to do in the 530i because it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. But if you are looking over your shoulder to change lanes and the car in front of you stops short, you have an electronic friend to save your skin. In smart-cruise control mode, the Bimmer will brake for you, too.
Now that we know its track-test times and know it’s safe and can park in a closet, the next installment will test the Bimmer’s real-world manners to see if it lives up to its marketing premise as the Ultimate Driving Machine.
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