BMW 5 Series Touring review
BMW 5 Series Touring is an executive estate that can carry five and their luggage and give an entertaining drive
Painless to own and great to drive, the BMW 5 Series Touring is a class act. It doesn't have the ultimate boot space of a Mercedes E-Class Estate, but it's as practical as an Audi A6 Avant, plus has a brilliant driving experience thanks to its balanced rear-drive chassis, superbly economical diesels and a supple ride – provided that you stump up the extra for some clever adaptive dampers. With bank vault build quality, this is one estate that will go on and on. There are two trim levels - SE and M Sport - but both are well equipped with kit like leather seats and parking sensors included as standard.
Our choice: 520d SE Touring
Unlike the old BMW 5 Series, the latest model is unlikely to cause offence – it's smart, sleek and blends neatly into the background. That could be a problem for some buyers, which is why BMW offers the M Sport package, which adds more aggressive bumper and bigger alloy wheels. Inside, the cabin is just as good as anything from Audi or Mercedes with a logical layout that is easy to use and focused on the driver – the iDrive system has been tweaked recently and is now clearer and includes online services - and the brilliant seats offer all the support you would expect of a high-speed executive express.
The pick of the line-up is also the entry-level model, the 520d, which gets a 2.0-litre diesel with 181bhp. That makes it fast enough to do 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds and a top speed of 138mph. There isn't really much need for more punch on UK roads, but if you want more power, the 525d and 530d are very fast, while the 535d is as close as you can get to an M5 diesel. All of the 3.0-litre petrols are quick and smooth, although obviously not as cheap to run. The only real reason the 5 Series doesn't get a maximum rating here is because you need to pay extra for adaptive dampers - in standard trim, the ride isn't as good as it should be, plus the dampers make the handling much better. Factor in brilliant refinement and a super-smooth eight-speed auto box, and you've got a great all-rounder.
The BMW 5 Series Touring is a very safe car. As standard, there are six airbags, plus traction and stability control that has several stages you can choose between. Options include a head-up display, which helps keep the driver's eyes on the road ahead. Factor in a maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating and a pop-up pedestrian impact bonnet, and you've got a very safe car. The only negative is that the 5 Series is not available in four-wheel drive form in the UK as it is in Europe, so you might need a set of winter tyres when it gets cold and icy. As for reliability, we would expect the 5 Series to be pretty faultless given the strong performance of the previous car in our Driver Power survey.
The boot is not as big as a Mercedes E-Class Estate, but it's still enormous. The 5 Series Touring has 560 litres seats up and 1,670 litres seats down, while the E-Class boasts 695 and 1,950 litres respectively. Compared to the Audi A6 Avant, the BMW is about as spacious. It has the widest load floor in the sector, though, a standard netted load divider, a shallow underfloor stowage area and a split-opening rear hatch. Plus there are lots of lashing points and even self-levelling suspension to cope with heavy loads. In the back there is lots of room for two adults, but the transmission tunnel forces the middle seat passenger to sit with their knees raised. Also the 5 Series has become a seriously big car so narrow car parks and country roads can present problems as you try to weave it in and out of small spaces.
EfficientDynamics has really helped BMW to achieve minor miracles with the 5 Series Touring. Thanks to stop-start and brake energy recovery, the Touring is remarkably economical – the 520d SE claims 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions of just 130g/km. It's a winner for business buyers. Even the 535d claims over 50mpg – and it can do 0-62mph in a blistering 5.5 seconds. It's a different story for the petrol cars, which are fast but rather thirsty. The only downside is the list price – this isn't a cheap car to buy and it's easy to spend £40,000 once you've added a few options on top. However, residual values are very strong, reflecting the car's huge desirability on the secondhand market.