For many, this feature will play an increasingly large part in how they choose a car. To say that this is the pinnacle of what the 5 Series’ feature would be doing the car a grave injustice.
We now live in a world where gadgets, not horsepower can be the deciding factor for someone buying a car.
Fuel economy and driving excitement is of course important, but if you’re choosing between two cars it’s often not the engine that will win you over it’s whether or not it can play Spotify from your iPhone.
This new generation of 5 Series offers the best of both worlds - BMW’s best driving experience, along with some of its most advanced technology.
The first thing you will probably notice is that the 2017 5 Series features an all-new interior over last year’s model. It is in many ways a distilled, compact version of the company’s flagship 7 Series. If it’s possible for a design to be described as making a minimalist statement then that’s the 5 Series summed up.
You won’t notice it immediately but after a few minutes your eye will start catching on some of the materials, design elements and then the staggering quality of it all will start to dawn on you. The driving seat of this car is a genuinely wonderful place to be, everything just feels effortlessly premium without ever being flashy.
Which is impressive when you consider the vast 10.2-inch touchscreen that dominates the centre console.
It’s a bright, high-definition display that’s extremely responsive and suffers very little glare.
Below it are a sleek collection of buttons around the CD player and then, because one isn’t enough, another smaller colour screen sits below showing the car’s climate control systems.
BMW’s iDrive software is excellent, if a little daunting. While the home screen has clearly been tailored for touch, BMW’s opted for a hybrid set of menus that while traditional in appearance are just as easy to navigate either through the iDrive dial or with your fingers.
One area where you might struggle is with the sheer breadth of the settings at your disposal. It’s overwhelming at first and definitely demands that you sit down for a bit beforehand just to get an idea of where everything is.
Some of the problem here is an overly simplistic menu design but much of it is simply down to the fact that BMW lets your tweak everything on the car
Beyond the car’s own software there’s Apple CarPlay as well, allowing you to access your iPhone’s operating system up on the display along with Spotify, Messages, Music and more. It was super easy to setup and simply works in tandem with BMW’s own software.
This is not the only large screen in the car. The other is placed behind the wheel in the form of a digital dashboard.
While the entire display is digital, there’s a merging of the old speedometer designs in the form of two sleek metal curves that physically outline the speedometer and rev counter. It’s a small touch but it looks incredibly slick.
The dashboard is where you as a driver will devote the most of your time to. It’s a vast digital canvas that shows you vital information as and when you need to see it. Whether it’s changing tracks, seeing which lane you need to move to or making phone calls it’s an adaptive display that can be customised just like your phone’s home screen.
Above it you’ll find BMW’s full-colour head-up display. It’s not a new feature to have, but nevertheless each variation gets better, and this latest one is superb.
Having at one point simply shown a speedometer you now get a full colour display projected out onto the end of the bonnet of the car. It’ll show the music playing, navigational directions and just like everything else on this car it can be customised to within an inch of its life.
Leading the car’s technological charge however are two key features: Gesture control and remote parking.
That first one is literally what it says on the tin. You simply lift your hand off the gear stick, point at the instrument cluster and make a circular motion. Clockwise raises the volume, anti-clockwise turns it down.
Want to pause? Simply extend two fingers and the once deafening cacophony of noise becomes a blissful temple of silence.
Is it a revolution in how we interact with our cars? No, not really, but it could be.
Just in the same way that Kinect never truly took off on the Xbox, instead it became the beginning of something far larger. While it feels like nothing more than a gimmick at the moment it could become the main way we interact with the self-driving cars of the future.
The next one is remote parking. By using BMW’s Display Key you can remotely access the car, turn it on and then either drive it forward or reverse it out of a parking space.
This is incredibly useful if you’ve parked up and the person next to you has given you absolutely no space to get out. In addition it’s a really useful way of getting added visibility if you’ve got a bit of tricky manoeuvring to do.
Finally, and arguably most importantly, it’s also incredibly cool. Every time we activated it a childish grin appeared on our face.
Proving that Tesla aren’t the only company to feature self-driving the 5 Series comes with its own version for the motorway.
We found it to be as good as Tesla’s Autopilot in every regard showing that while Tesla might have had the edge before, the competition are definitely catching up.
Finally there’s BMW Connected. This is an app you can download onto your iPhone or Android phone. It gives you access to your car’s location and lets you pre-condition the car’s climate control (perfect for winter).
It’s a genuinely useful app that tells you essential info about the car including whether it’s locked or not.
Finally the app lets you see a live birds eye view of the car at any point. Using the plethora of cameras dotted around the car it takes a 360-degree image which you can then drag around.
It’s an interesting feature not because it’s especially useful in its current condition but more that it offers an taster of what’s to come.
Being able to tap into a live 360-degree video feed of your car could well be useful but for now, it feels like a very cool gimmick and nothing more.
The 2017 5 Series is in almost every regard a triumph for BMW.
While some of its expensive optional features offer little in the way of innovation, it’s the bread and butter features of the car that make it stand out as offering one of the best technology packages on four wheels.
The digital dashboard is absolutely superb, while the car’s Connected Drive app features are truly useful.
Wireless CarPlay works seamlessly too while the car’s software is a powerful step forward from the original connected software we first saw on BMW’s and Minis.
In its fully specced form it’s not cheap, but the 5 Series lives up to the hype of being one of BMW’s most advanced cars.
The Best Gadgets Of 2017
Xbox One S
If you own a 4K TV and also own an original Xbox One then the Xbox One S is the console for you. It is quite simply Microsoft’s best Xbox ever, it’s also the cheapest 4K Blu-ray player you’ll be able to buy this side of Christmas. Your games collection will look stunning and if you trade in your old console the relatively small cost shouldn’t sting while you wait for Microsoft’s uber-console Project Scorpio to arrive next year.
Apple iPhone 7
This is Apple’s best iPhone ever, and if we’re honest it’s one of their most innovative devices yet. Its exceptional camera, combined with with a slim, water-resistant body mean that while it's not a leap in design it is a leap in just about everything else. No it doesn't have a headphone jack, but wireless audio is finally ready.
Sky Q as a complete package is the future, not just one single feature.It’s knowing that everything you’ve ever recorded is available in every room. It’s knowing that you can download any recorded show onto your iPad. It’s also knowing that every Sky Q box also doubles as a WiFi hotspot.This is where Sky Q makes sense. This is an all-in-one system, it does literally everything. There’s no switching, no painful tinkering, it all neatly fits together and if there’s one thing us humans like it’s everything working just as it should.
This is Google’s iPhone. It’s that simple. As such there are achievements and compromises. If you’re after an incredibly well-built, powerful Android flagship, Google have given you a truly five-star smartphone. If you’re a photographer, the Pixel’s camera and cloud storage option make this a no brainer. This is Google's first 'made by us' smartphone and it's absolutely brilliant.
Hive Active Heating 2 Review
If your boiler is compatible and you’re willing to spend the initial £249 (including installation) then Hive is one of the most complete smart home systems we’ve ever seen. While Nest offers third-party accessories like Philips Hue, Hive almost fights back by keeping things simple: If it’s got the Hive logo on it you know it works. Components are reasonably priced and the entire system has been utterly rock solid, we haven’t had a single issue since installation.
Amazon Echo works best when you have other gadgets that it can utilise such as Hive, Nest or Philips Hue. On its own its an incredibly smart speaker, paired with these other gadgets though and it becomes the fully fledged conduit to your home. It’s also really good at doing homework. Alexa really is the first gadget we actually felt comfortable talking to.
Roli Lightpad Block
Don't be alarmed by its alien appearance. This is actually one of the most innovative music-making gadgets we've used all year. A large transparent gel-like surface is both touch and pressure sensitive allowing you to create music in a way that's both utterly unique and incredibly intuitive. The accompanying app is properly easy to use and once mastered the Lightpad can become the only tool you need to create an entire song.
Apple Watch Series 2
The Series 2 is the complete package. It’s the smartwatch that we feel Apple always wanted to make. It’s a fitness tracker, health monitor and wellness device that’ll help you stay fit and, just as importantly, calm in mind.
BeoPlay A2 Active By B&O Play
At £299 this is not a cheap option, however for that money you’ll get a product that’s just as happy being your main living room speaker as it is keeping you company on a road trip. The sound quality is truly room-filling and at the high standard you would expect for a Bang & Olufson product. The A2 Active is quite simply one of the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge is powerful but won’t run out of battery, beautiful yet able to work underwater and capable of transporting you to alien worlds through the medium of virtual reality. If there’s a product that encapsulates all the of the best technologies on offer today it’s this one. Oh and it won't catch fire, so that's nice.
At the moment, if you own a PS4 and are desperately excited to get into virtual reality, PlayStation VR is the only place to start. It’s comfortable, gloriously easy to use and when the hardware and software work in harmony it’s an utterly breathtaking experience. Visceral, emotional and yet entirely accessible, it’s a technological marvel.
Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature
Anyone who wants an industry-leading sound but without the usually eye-watering price tag. Yes, these are £699, but when you think that the average audiophile will spend upwards of £1000 on a pair of HiFi-quality headphones these make every bit of sense. They’re B&W’s best headphones ever and they’re quite frankly one of the best pairs of headphones we’ve ever used.
PlayStation 4 Pro
If you’re looking for an affordable (it costs as much as the original PS4) entry into the world of 4K gaming then the PS4 Pro is a no brainer. Pair it with a 4K HDR TV and games look absolutely astonishing. At present most games are simply being given a new coat of paint but going forward there will be an army of titles designed with this console in mind.
The OnePlus 3T is simply a continuation of the ethos that makes OnePlus phones so good. It’s exceptionally well-built, powerful and offers you everything you could want in an affordable and meaningful package. No smartphone will give you more value for money.
Beats by Dre Powerbeats3 Wireless
Beats by Dre
While Apple's AirPods might have got most of the limelight in the post-iPhone 7 world it's actually Apple-owned Beats who have given us the ultimate solution to the lack of a headphone jack.The Powerbeats3 are ultra-portable, durable, wireless headphones that are a doddle to set up and last for days then we’ve found the pair for you. They sound great, they’re comfy, they’re perfect for sports and they last for days. These are very, very good.
TVs are massive these days. They're also really really expensive. The KS9000 then has a very special place in our hearts because at a very sane 49-inches it's the most living room-friendly TV we've seen in recent years. Oh and because it's part of Samsung's flagship range you're still getting probably one of the best 4K TVs on the market.
Sonos Play:5 (2nd Gen)
While it was released in December of 2015, Sonos' newest speaker has played an undisputedly important role in how we consume music in 2016. This was the year of wireless and Sonos continued to show us that when it comes to ditching those wires, they were one of the best.
Withings Activite Pop
This is the anti-fitness tracker of fitness trackers. Boasting a beautifully minimalist design the Pop is all about getting the job done without shouting about it. A simple measurement dial at the bottom shows you varying metrics for how active you're being while Withings' app reveals just how much data is actually being collected. While Fitbit has led the way in Fitness trackers, Withings has been offering even the most resistant consumer a change to start taking better care of themselves./