When it comes to premium estate cars, outright size isn’t the be all and end all. If it was, everyone would buy the Mercedes E-Class and BMW wouldn’t bother making a new 5-Series Touring at all. But when it comes to BMWs there’s usually more than meets the eye.
Despite being marginally larger than before, with a total loading space of 1,670 litres, the new 5-Series Touring is still 280-litres down on the mighty Merc - but it’s by no means small.
The BMW will still swallow a couple of mountain bikes, carry four people and their golf clubs in business class style or transport the whole family, together with baby paraphernalia, anywhere you want to go.
It may only have an extra 20-litres of boot space, or 60 with the seats folded, over the old car but what matters is that there are now some handy new features to make your life even easier. The first is that when you open the tailgate the luggage cover retracts or lowers automatically. Also the rear seats can be folded down in one go by simply pulling a lever in the boot while their backs are spilt 40:20:40 for greater flexibility. You can even recline them by 11 degrees for extra comfort or put them forward for more boot space. However, this feature is a £280 option. Our only real complaint is that BMW didn’t see fit to make key fob-operated tailgate control standard like it is on the E-Class.
But the Beemer makes up for this with its higher quality interior. Inside, no other car in this segment feels quite so upmarket. The exterior design is stylish too - BMW’s conservative new look somehow seems more at home on the estate than the saloon. And thanks to the longest wheelbase in the class the 5 Series Touring has very little front and rear overhang - something which helps its sporty stance.
But is the driving experience up to scratch? For lugging loads along Snowdonia’s mountain passes, no other car comes close. There’s an abundance of grip and unflappable body control. That said the new 5 Series Touring doesn’t feel quite as involving to drive as its predecessor, although it’s still a cut above the E-Class.
On the plus side the new car is much more capable at ironing out the bumps in our battered British roads. In fact the 5 Series Touring’s suspension, which includes a self-leveling pneumatic system at the rear, is the car’s most impressive asset.
We drove the entry-level 520d, but arguably it’s the engine that makes the most sense. Smooth, punchy and incredibly efficient it makes the hugely talented six-cylinder 530d and 535i models seem vaguely irrelevant. Our test car featured the six-speed manual which felt strangely at odds with the car’s laid-back demeanour, if you can afford the extra £1,495 we’d recommend going for the silky eight-speed auto.
The E-Class Estate has always prided itself on offering more room than any of its rivals, and the latest model is no different. Why buy an SUV when you can have all the space in a sleek E-Class shell?
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbodiesel
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph: 8.3 seconds
Top speed: 138mph
Equipment: Leather upholstery, Bluetooth, parking sensors, cruise control, air-con, self-levelling air suspension
On sale: Now