New BMW 5 series limousine weighs in

New BMW 5 series limousine weighs inMunich, Dec 2 - Sleek, stylish and more upmarket. The sixth generation of BMWs mid-range 5 Series luxury saloon looks and feels a lot like its more expensive 7 series brother.

The car, which was unveiled at the sports stadium in Munich where the city hopes to host the 2018 Olympic Games, is crucial to the Bavarian maker which has seen sales dented by the global recession.

It will enter the showrooms in Germany from next March after making its official debut at the Geneva car show. In most markets the car will be competing head-on with Mercedes' E class saloon. The 5 series has been in production in various incarnations since 1972.

The sporty new 5 is clearly intended to look and feel like the 7 which means it has grown a few inches in length in all directions and has gained the 7 series grille treatment which is also common to the entry level 3. BMW says the 5-Series saloon "mixes the agility of the 3-Series with the supremacy of the 7-Series".

The creased bonnet and larger version of the signature double kidney grille give the car a purposeful look and with its curvier lines the new 5 scores much higher in the elegance stakes than its predecessor whose styling polarised the pundits.

The car is heavier than the outgoing model but the 5 presents a lithe profile which disguises the extra weight. Technical innovations include double-wishbone front suspension and revamped rear suspension using BMW's Integral-V system. Four engine options are offered initially, including a six-cylinder turbo-diesel. The 5 comes as

standard with a six-speed manual gearbox.

The 520d is the most fuel efficient version and can accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds. It emits 132g/km of CO2. The most powerful of the range is the petrol-driven 550i with a power rating of 407 bhp. (dpa)