The test mules wear the same disguise as those snapped by our photographers last year, but this is the first time we’ve seen the updated Touring variant being road tested. Like the saloon, it appears to gain only subtle tweaks to the front and rear, but we can see that hybrid versions will be told apart by a bespoke front bumper design, with a horizontal vane spanning the width of the lower air intake.
The move is part of a broader strategy at BMW that aims to give each model its own individual appearance, with the latest 3 Series sporting a different front-end look.
Further design changes include redesigned headlights and a more heavily structured front bumper that incorporates newly designed air vents, including vertical air curtain ducts at the outer edges.
Changes at the rear are likely to be less significant, although the plastic wrap adorning the spied prototypes hints at styling revisions to the tail-lights, rear bumper, tailpipes and area around the numberplate.
Inside, the 5 Series is expected to receive new digital instrument graphics as well as a revised central display housing the infotainment functions.
Today’s 5 Series will get BMW’s latest iDrive 7.0 operating system as part of a running change from this month onwards, suggesting the 2020 model will carry this on until the introduction of an iDrive 7.5 system in the eighth-generation 5 Series model due in 2023.
The prototype displayed here is propelled by a plug-in hybrid powertrain, shown by the mandatory identification on its front doors as well as the flap for the charging port integrated into the front-left wing.
The current G30 5 Series is already sold with a plug-in hybrid set-up in the 530e. This has a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor developing a combined 185kW and providing an electric-only driving range of up to 65km’s.
As part of a push to take its plug-in hybrid drivelines into the performance car class, BMW is said to be planning a new 545e model running the same set-up as the 745e. This would use a more powerful turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine and an electric motor making a combined 290kW and yielding an electric-only range of up to 58km’s.
In further developments, BMW plans to equip all petrol engines with a particulate filter, while the diesels will receive new selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, according to Munich sources.