Just this week, BMW lost one of its most normal looking cars. Despite the new 5 Series and i5 being among the better looking recent BMW debuts, this new generation of 5 Series is still far more radical looking than the car it replaces. The last-gen G30 5 Series as among the most handsome BMWs in the modern era and now it’s officially gone. I’ll always remember the G30 5 Series fondly, as its press launch was one of my first. However, this new era is here, so let’s see how it compares to the old one.
Obviously, we haven’t driven the new 5 Series just yet. We sample the i5 prototype briefly but not enough to get a comprehensive idea as to what it’s like. Plus, BMW may have tweaked it since then. So we’re just going to focus on styling, interior, and technology for now.
Exterior Design Comparison: G30 vs. G60—Front End
This one is no contest—the G30 5 Series wins hands down. The G30 is a masterful modern BMW design, especially up front. Its grilles are correctly sized, well proportioned, and remind us of the brand’s heritage while still looking modern. They’re perfect. Its headlights, especially on the LCI model, are sleek, modern, and handsome. The front end of the G30 will age incredibly well. On the flip side, the new G60 is pretty good looking actually. I like what BMW did with the grille and the hood bulges are kind of cool. Compared to the 7 Series, the 5 Series is as pretty as a Lamborghini Miura. However, it’s still not exactly pretty in its own right. Its headlights are too fussy, there are too many lines and angles that lead to nowhere, and it loses some of its BMW identity. So the old car wins here.
From the side
Call me crazy but I actually like the side profile of the new G60 5 Series. It’s the best looking angle of the car. I like its stance, the shape of its silhouette, and I like the cut of its roof line, especially at the C-pillar. It looks sporty, athletic, and stylish. BMW head of design said that the new 5 Series has a more Italian approach than a German one. While that’s mostly hogwash, I can sort of see what he’s talking about when lookin at his profile. The old G30 5 Series is great looking from the side but it’s a bit boring compared to the new car. It will age incredibly well, and I appreciate it, but the new car wins here.
This one is tough for me. I really like the new car’s taillights, as I think the slim LEDs are simple and elegant but also modern and techy. However, the massive black plastic bumper and pathetic excuse for a rear diffuser are almost insulting. It’s like BMW couldn’t figure out what to do with the rear bumper so its design team just shrugged, said “ehh, paint it black,” and went to lunch. The last-gen car is less offensive but its taillights are a bit boring. They aren’t bad, though. So I think the nod goes to the G30 overall, as there’s really nothing wrong with it. The new car’s taillights are nice but its bumper is downright bad.
Interior Design Faceoff: G30 vs. G60—A Closer Look at the Cabin Aesthetics
This is another easy one to call but it goes the other way. The cabin of the new G60 5 Series is absolutely spectacular. It’s modern, handsome, sophisticated, and expensive looking, all while retaining a driver-focused(ish) look. The old car isn’t bad at all inside. In fact, it’s quite good. But it lacks the wow factor of the new G60, which borrows its interior almost entirely from the 7 Series. Admittedly, I prefer the old iDrive 7 of the G30-generation 5 Series to the new iDrive 8.5 but I’m willing to live with touchscreen climate controls so I can have the rest of the G60’s interior.
If you go by the tally alone, this is a draw. Both cars win two categories. However, I’d like to break the tie because there should be a definitive answer as to whether BMW improved on the old generation 5 Series. I’m going to say no, it didn’t. The new 5 Series deserves a bit of love, simply for being the best looking of BMW’s recent controversial designs. It’s still relatively subdued and it has a superb interior. But the G30 is handsome and timeless. It will be as good in 15 years as it does now and for that it gets the win. However, I’m not nearly as down on the new G60 as many seem to be.