BMW 540i review – The Sweet Cologne of Success

Sweet Smell of Success is a 1957 film noir. It’s a dark ‘comedy’ that has matured over time and in 1993, the film was selected for preservation Registry by the Library of Congress as being ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.’ However, the film title comes with a giant dollop of irony as although the hapless press agent more or less achieves his objective (I won’t give away too much here); it comes at a bitter/sweet price. The movie title sprang to mind when I hopped inside the new BMW 540i but in a far less dramatic and far from ironic way.

At the Australasian launch in Adelaide, I was introduced to the new and greatly improved (certainly in technological terms) BMW 5 series however, as with most launches, I got to experience the range but only with enough time to only whet the appetite – and (as some of you may already know), I like to eat, so I welcomed the opportunity to have my fill of this most excellent sedan for a whole week.

Almost immediately upon entering the car I was greeted by the invigorating cologne that emanated from the BMW’s Ambient Air package. Developed by Fragrance designer Annabelle Kanzow-Coffinet, there are 8 aromas in the suite that have been split into 4 categories – Blue and Green are at the refreshing end of the scale and ideal for mornings while Golden and Authentic come into their own in the evening. Throughout the review I stayed with the Blue Suite I was greeted with (containing a lot of melon – the stronger version has more patchouli and elenee – a type of pepper) and is therefore a note that I now associate with Success – let me explain why.

The new 5 series is a sedan that exudes professionalism especially when presented in clean Alpine white. My 540i came complete with the M Sport package. Touches such as Dynamic Damper Control, BMW Individual high gloss shadowline, M Sport braking system, M exterior styling package, 20”alloys and sports front seats covered in ‘Dakota’ leather added to the already well spec’d sedan, and when I say well spec’d I mean it.

The 540i has an ambient light strip that surrounds the cabin, the colours can be changed too which may not sound all that but to my six-year-old son it was a real big deal. Parking Assistant Plus had solves (almost) all your parking needs, High Beam Assist (why should you have to dip your headlights when the car can do it for you?), head up display, Harman/Kardon surround sound system and the addictive BMW gesture control for the infotainment.

It also had (wait for it) the technology package that I was more than simply EAGER to get my hands on. Standing beside the car, and I want to reiterate this, standing outside the car, remote control parking allows you to park into or pull out of a space using the BMW Display Key  – you can start and move the car without the hardship of sitting in it – it’s a freakishly cool feature. It does have its limitations but a great options for people who (as I pointed out earlier) like their food. The Key recharges wirelessly in the phone tray however it could do with its own compartment as it moves around too freely, barely keeping the blue re-charging light glowing  – especially when in sports mode, ahem.

The BMW 3L Twin Power Turbo 6-cylinder petrol engine is quite the powerhouse. With 250kW and 450Nm of torque that is very chummy with the 8-speed sport automatic transmission. Zero to 100 comes in at a fraction over 5 seconds while top speed is very satisfactory 250kph – all with a reported fuel consumption 6.7 l/100km (combined).

I used the sedan in all manner of executive life fashion. With the adaptive cruise control on it took me to and from the office in thick traffic with me barely needing to touch the pedals (or even steer for that matter), same when it came to the long trip northward – the semi-autonomy tech is really that good. It read the speed signs to, ensuring I kept within the red circles. It has a boot large enough for the boy’s soccer gear and even enough for the shopping (so I couldn’t use it as an excuse not to stock up). There’s plenty of room to take four adults to meetings in comfort (five if they want to be friendly) and when you’re all by yourself and want to play a little, it’s well balanced on the curves, bolstering even and it certainly knows what to do with the straights.

According to Kanzow-Coffinet, as city dwellers, we have forgotten how to smell. Research tells us that fragrances work both psychologically and physiologically, they improve our feeling of wellbeing, and reduce blood pressure and heart rate.

Apparently, we remember things we smell far longer than things we see (scientifically proven) this is known as the “Madeleine Effect”, after a famous passage written by Marcel Proust. What I can tell you is, that driving around in the 540i gave me an immediate sense of prosperousness (and a fair share of automotive relish). Now you can call it the blue suite scent or call it the fact that it is a very well appointed, easy to drive, powerful and incredibly technologically advanced sedan, hell you can call me Madeleine for that matter – whatever it is, to me it all adds up to the BMW 540i being the ‘sweet cologne of success’.

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