LISBON, Portugal – What fries are to McDonald’s and razors are to Gilette, the 5 Series sedan is to BMW. “We asked people, ‘What do you most associate with our brand?’ and 58 percent responded, ‘5 Series,’” says Klaus Fröhlich, head of BMW research and development. “Worldwide, we have sold 7.6 million 5 Series since the car’s introduction in 1972, some 2.2 million just of the most recent sixth-generation car. In fact, roughly 20 percent of all BMW revenue now comes from the 5 Series alone.”
And now BMW is tinkering with its fries recipe.
Coming in February, the all-new, seventh-generation “G30” 5 Series, which BMW launched on the twisting seaside two-lanes of Portugal, represents a massive opportunity and equally huge stakes for the Bavarian maker. Get it right and BMW’s corporate coffers will bulge — especially thanks to a white-hot market in China (where nearly 1 million Chinese-built 5 Series have already been sold). The consequences if the market says “meh?” Too grisly to contemplate.
Size-wise, the new car isn’t dramatically different from its predecessor. Its width, height, and wheelb...