Modern cars are profoundly annoying. Sure، they're as safe as a fallout shelters، accelerate like dropped pianos and have enough tech to embarrass the Starship Enterprise. But between the fussy infotainment systems، cryptic control layouts and the finicky gearboxes، there's enough going on to drive you mad.
Really، on the scale of most annoying things، modern cars fall somewhere between wet socks and stepping on Legos.
The last-generation 5-series was a handsome car، well-proportioned and conservative. The new one advances the model، if only just. It's donned the hockey-stick shaped side blades that debuted on the 7-series، and they work well here.
BMW isn't suffering from the grille inflation we're seeing over at Audi and Lexus، so that's another good mark.
If you get a base model with no appearance options، it's a pretty drab affair. My tester، loaded up to $74،160 with the M Sport package، was a lovely Alpine White example with black trim around the edges and beautiful 19-inch alloy wheels. The blue M Sport brakes polished off the look.
None of this is revolutionary، but nobody said it had to be. BMW had a great design in the last 5-series، and it's only made this one better.
When a new test car arrives each week، I sit down and I run through the same couple of tasks. Pair my phone with the car and import contacts. Add the presets to the satellite radio، plug in my home address. Change the lighting، locking and system settings to my liking. I try to simulate what an owner would experience when they first purchase the car.
Usually، the conclusion is that the owner would drive straight back to the dealer and demand a refund، because every car I've had so far has managed to make one of these tasks monumentally irritating. Some have no tuning knob، so changing the radio station is an exercise in frustration. Inputting an address usually requires so many clicks and menus that you might as well be playing a piano. And vehicle settings are always buried far from the light of day.
It really is a marvel to make the 10 million functions a car is expected to do easy to access، but BMW's done it. Everything in the 530i worked exactly as I would expect، with menus that were easy to navigate and software that was designed for drivers، not IT professionals. It's the result of BMW perfecting iDrive over these past 16 years.
The next front، BMW insists، is gesture control. When you want the music to get louder، you can twirl your finger in the air to turn it up rather than reaching for the volume knob. This saves you.000009 of a second، and is less precise، but you do feel like a wizard. You can also use gesture control to move a camera around a virtual 360-degree view of the car. No، not a top down 360-degree view that you've seen before، but a simulation of what it would look like if you were standing next to the car. It's mind-boggling، and I truly have no idea how it works.
Gesture control isn't all that useful yet. It does things that you can easily do with iDrive. When iDrive debuted، we all said you'd be better off with a touch screen. Then، when cars gained an extra thousand or so features، we realized BMW had it right. Maybe gesture control will be the same.
The point is، there are few cabins on the market that feel as space age. When you first sit down the 530i doesn't have the wow factor of the Mercedes E-Class or Volvo S90. But use it for a week، and you'll realize you don't care how it looks. It works perfectly، and I don't use that word lightly. -CNBC