After the nice “appetiser” where BMW assembled past 5-Series models from E12 to E60, here’s the main event – the Malaysian launch of the all new 5-Series codenamed F10. Two CBU variants are available at launch – the RM398,800 523i and the RM598,800 535i, with a diesel in the pipeline. As usual, prices are on the road, without insurance, but with BMW Service Inclusive + Repair.

BMW Malaysia personnel were in bullish mood when taking the wraps off the F10, which they say is the new class benchmark. The 523i is powered by a 2.5-litre straight-six (N52) with 204 bhp and 250 Nm of torque, an increase of 14 bhp and 20 Nm over its predecessor, and matching the E60 525i in torque. Paired to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, this car sprints to 100 km/h in 8.5 seconds on its way to a 234 km/h top speed.

For comparison, the similarly priced W212 Mercedes E250 CGI makes the same horsepower but has 60 Nm more torque, which is also produced lower and sustained longer throughout the rev range. The Merc does the century sprint in 7.8 seconds and has a higher top speed as well. At the launch, BMW rubbed in the fact that its rival has only four cylinders and five gear ratios, but they obviously omitted the bare performance figures. However, despite the similiar price, the 523i’s natural competitor is actually the E200 CGI, and the price disparity is because of SKD versus CBU taxation. The 528i which rivals the E 250 CGI does better at the sprint – 6.7 seconds.

Moving up, the 535i comes with a 3.0-litre twin-turbo (twin-scroll) direct injection engine. There’s 306 bhp and 400 Nm here to propel you to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h. 400 Newton metres is the same amount of twist the M3 makes, and here you’ll get the full blast from a near idle 1,200 rpm!

The auto ‘box also has 8 speeds, but here it’s called “sports automatic” with steering paddles and M gearshift logic. We’ve already driven this stormer of a mid-sized exec in Portugal earlier in the year; click here for the report and gallery.

The new 5 gets Brake Energy Regeneration (BER) and Electromechanical steering as part of BMW’s Efficient Dynamics efforts. The former charges the battery while the car is braking, coasting or decelerating while the latter does not need power assitance when pointed straight or at a constant angle, reducing energy consumption. There’s still an alternator of course, just that it need not work so hard (20% of charging duties taken up by BER).

Other juicy tech bits include Integral Active Steering, a form of four-wheel steering where the rear wheels turn slightly either in the opposite (low speed, more nimble) or same direction (high speed, more stable). Also here is Dynamic Driving Control which has four presets (comfort, normal, sport, sport +) that manipulate the suspension, transmission shift points, accelerator and steering ratio.

With a best in class wheelbase of 2,968 mm, BMW claims the most spacious cabin for the F10, and occupants get to enjoy a 16-speaker sound system in the 535i (12 for the 523i). The costlier car also comes with four-zone climate control, a sunroof, BMW Navigation Professional and multicolour Head-Up Display. It also gets the “largest LCD screen of any car today” (10.2″, 1280 X 480) which contrasts with the tiny one in the 523i. Also, the owner’s handbook and help functions are integrated into iDrive.

Live pictures from the launch is after the jump. Click here for our drive impressions.

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