Review: BMW 5 Series

Review: BMW 5 Series
Review: BMW 5 Series

High-end executive saloon is 45 years old this year, but it’s showing no signs of mid-life crisis

Evolution, not revolution. When it comes to big-selling exec and luxury saloons, that’s the traditional BMW way. The latest incarnation of the 5 Series bears this out, building on the huge success of its predecessors while bringing in the best tech and style elements of its prestige big brother, the 7 Series.

It also shares that model’s modular platform, with its extensive use of expensive titanium, magnesium and aluminium, which means the 5 Series is stronger than ever. It’s lighter, too, by up to a whopping 100kg.

The engine range at launch consists of 530i and 540i petrol engines plus 520d and 530d diesels. An upgraded eight-speed auto is standard fit with all of them, and the drivetrains can be enhanced with extra-cost xDrive four-wheel drive and active four-wheel steering. Suspension options over the entry-level fixed-rate dampers include a lower and firmer M Sport set-up, or Variable Damper Control adaptive dampers that can be specced with or without electronic active anti-roll bars.

BMW 5 Series

That’s a lot to think about when speccing up your new purchase, so perhaps you better sit down while you ponder. The BWM 5 Series’ cabin is the perfect place to do so; it’s even more spacious that that of its predecessor, particularly in the rear, and its premium feel abounds.

The latest-generation iDrive has a new menu interface, with a touchscreen and gesture control as well as the traditional rotary controller, and all trims boast a six-speaker Professional audio system. You can pay extra for a 16-speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound set-up. All materials are first rate, and the boot space is very generous.

On the road, the entry-level 520d can hit 0-62mph in less than eight seconds, and delivers impressive reserves of power and torque. It does so surprisingly quietly as well, as any diesel rattles or rumbles are well suppressed thanks to copious use of sound-deadening systems, including something called Syntak.

BMW 5 Series

Despite its lighter and leaner credentials, the 5 Series is clearly viewed by its maker as being a smaller 7 Series rather than a larger 3 Series. This really shows in the model’s handling and ride balance, which makes it perfect for long, leisurely journeys. The chassis control is better than ever, and most surface intrusions are well disguised. This gives a more cosseting ride than before, and while the handling’s vigour can’t match that of the latest 3 Series, most 5 Series drivers will be more than happy with the sharp turn-in as well as steering that’s loaded with heft, balance and feel. Things can be further enhanced by selecting Sport instead of Comfort mode.

Standard-fit kit is very generous, and even in the £35,000 520d SE you get 10.25-inch iDrive screen, heated front seats, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and plenty more. We’d add the £985 Variable Damper Control, which more than repays its cost with its positive effect on handling and ride.

With its luxury saloon feel, the 5 Series exec feels like it’s from the class above but for less money. It has a real sense of driving enjoyment over its predecessors, yet without any of the aloof feeling that so often prevailed before. It’s a better all-rounder than even the Jaguar XF, Mercedes E-Class and Audi A6 – and that’s praise indeed.

BMW 5 Series

 

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