In-depth reviews

BMW 5 Series review

The BMW 5 Series combines cutting edge kit, great driving dynamics and top-notch refinement with low running costs

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

Price
£36,525 to £67,595
  • Sharp driving dynamics
  • Strong refinement
  • Excellent infotainment
  • Expensive options
  • Conservative styling
  • Most models over £40k

The BMW 5 Series executive saloon has been a mainstay of the German brand’s line-up for more than 40 years. The seventh generation is underpinned by the same platform as the larger 7 Series luxury limousine (albeit without that car's carbon core), so it's larger than its predecessor and now matches the biggest rivals for interior space. Yet extensive use of lightweight aluminium for the car’s structure and body panels means it actually tips the scales at around 100kg less the old model.

As you’d expect from a BMW, the 5 Series offers engaging handling, while the drop in weight makes it feel more nimble than its bulky external dimensions would suggest. BMW has also made strides when it comes to refinement. There’s very little wind or engine noise, while tyre roar is only a problem on coarse surfaces. On its standard suspension the 5 Series does a fine job of soaking up bumps, although racier M Sport models are a little firm at low speeds.

The car’s top-notch refinement is backed up by one of the classiest cabins in the business. The quality of the materials and finish are first rate, while there’s plenty of standard kit, including sat-nav, online services and leather seat trim. There’s bags of space too, with occupants in the back getting nearly as much legroom as the larger 7 Series.

Business users are likely to be impressed by the car’s low running costs, with the 530e plug-in hybrid model emitting as little as 46g/km of CO2. With regular access to a plug socket and a short commute, you can run the car almost entirely on electricity, too.

Overall, the 5 Series is a hugely capable, beautifully built and spacious premium saloon that’s also great to drive. Arguably, it is one of the most complete models on sale today.

Few cars are as accomplished as the BMW 5 Series. BMW's mid-sized saloon is considered one of the best all-round cars you can buy, and the latest seventh-generation model delivers the talents of its predecessors with a healthy dose of hi-tech kit and construction in the mix.

The 5 Series has been a mainstay of the BMW line-up since 1972, when the original E12 model first arrived. Since then, there have been six more generations, and the current G30 incarnation is bigger yet lighter and more efficient than past models. It uses technology borrowed form the 7 Series limousine, so has lightweight aluminium and carbon fibre in its construction, while some of that car's suite of hi-tech convenience features are also carried over.

BMW 5 Series long-term test review

The styling of the 5 Series is conservative, and is an evolution of the last model, combined with cues taken from the larger 7 Series. But there's no doubt about who builds it, thanks to the synonymous kidney grilles, four-ring headlights and distinctive BMW window line.

The 5 Series line-up is simple, with only SE and M Sport trims on offer. The engine range is more extensive, however, with a selection of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid variants available. The diesel models are expected to make up the bulk of sales, with the excellent 187bhp 2.0-litre 520d accounting for the majority of sales. As well as the standard trims, the 520d is also offered in company car tax-busting EfficientDynamics trim to cut costs even further. The 530d features a traditional BMW straight-six diesel with 261bhp, and is designed more for performance than efficiency. A mid-range 525d is also available.

Petrol power comes in the form of the 520i, 530i and 540i models. The 520i and 530i use 2.0-litre turbo petrol engines with either 183bhp or 249bhp, but the latter has a 335bhp 3.0-litre straight-six. The only other model at the moment is the 530e plug-in hybrid. This uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor to make 252bhp, which delivers performance similar to the 530i but with far lower running costs and a potential 31-mile electric driving range. Buyers after something racier will have to wait a little longer for the new M5 to arrive, although from our first taste it'll be well worth the wait.

All cars feature an eight-speed automatic gearbox, while xDrive four-wheel drive is available as an option on 520d and 530d models - it's standard on the 540i.

The 5 Series is one of the mainstays of the executive saloon class, and is a direct rival for the Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class. It can also rival the Jaguar XF, while alternative choices come in the form of the Volvo S90 and Lexus GS. The only other option is the 5 Series Touring estate, while the 5 Series GT is due to be rebranded as the 6 Series GT when it arrives later in the year.

For an alternative review of the latest BMW 5 Series Saloon visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk

More on 5 Series

New BMW 5 Series 2020 review
BMW 5 Series Saloon
20 Oct 2020

New BMW 5 Series 2020 review

Have updates made the BMW 5 Series even better? We try out the new M550i xDrive to find out…
New BMW 545e xDrive 2020 review
BMW 5 Series
16 Oct 2020

New BMW 545e xDrive 2020 review

The new plug-in hybrid BMW 545e xDrive combines a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine with an 11.6kWh battery and electric motor
New 2020 BMW 545e PHEV: specs, details and prototype drive
BMW 5 Series
11 Aug 2020

New 2020 BMW 545e PHEV: specs, details and prototype drive

The facelifted BMW 5 Series gets a new six-cylinder plug-in hybrid 545e option, and we’ve been for a short spin to get a feel for the new drivetrain
New 2023 BMW 5 Series to feature all-electric i5 model
BMW 5 Series
6 Aug 2020

New 2023 BMW 5 Series to feature all-electric i5 model

The all-electric version of the new 5 Series is likely to be called the BMW i5 and our exclusive image previews how it could look
BMW M5 Competition gets a new 2020 facelift
BMW 5 Series M5
16 Jun 2020

BMW M5 Competition gets a new 2020 facelift

BMW’s latest flagship performance saloon is powered by a 616bhp 4.4-litre V8 engine – and it has a 0–62mph time of 3.3 seconds
New facelifted BMW 5 Series takes aim at Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class
BMW 5 Series
27 May 2020

New facelifted BMW 5 Series takes aim at Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class

The BMW 5 Series has been updated with styling and efficiency tweaks, while a new 545e performance plug-in model joins the line-up
Mercedes E 300 e vs BMW 530e
Mercedes E-Class
19 Mar 2020

Mercedes E 300 e vs BMW 530e

Plug-in hybrids will be more popular under new tax rules, so we test the new Mercedes E 300 e against the BMW 530e to see which is on target
BMW 5 Series - best plug-in hybrid cars
BMW 5 Series
BMW 5 Series
15 Aug 2019

BMW 5 Series - best plug-in hybrid cars

The BMW 530e will be cheaper to run than a regular 5 Series but it crucially doesn’t sacrifice driver engagement
BMW 530e plug-in hybrid revised for 2019
BMW 530e - front
BMW 5 Series
2 Aug 2019

BMW 530e plug-in hybrid revised for 2019

The BMW 530e PHEV has been updated with a new battery pack, better economy, reduced emissions and a longer all-electric range
Limited-run BMW M5 Edition 35 Years announced
BMW M5 Edition 35 Years - front
BMW 5 Series M5
17 May 2019

Limited-run BMW M5 Edition 35 Years announced

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the BMW M5, the German brand has released a new special edition model, limited to just 350 units
BMW M550i coming to the UK
bmw m550i - tracking front quarter
BMW 5 Series
12 Mar 2019

BMW M550i coming to the UK

Brit buyers have previously been excluded from ordering BMW’s bruising V8 5 Series, but that’s set to change
Lexus ES vs BMW 5 Series vs Volvo S90
Lexus ES vs BMW 5 Series vs Volvo S90 - header
Lexus ES
9 Mar 2019

Lexus ES vs BMW 5 Series vs Volvo S90

Can the new hybrid Lexus ES make an impression on exec saloon big-hitters such as the BMW 5 Series and Volvo S90?
BMW 530e vs Volvo S90 T8
BMW 530e vs Volvo S90 T8 - header
BMW 5 Series
29 Dec 2018

BMW 530e vs Volvo S90 T8

The new plug-in hybrid BMW 530e iPerformance faces an established electrified exec rival in the shape of the Volvo S90 T8
Audi A6 vs BMW 5 Series vs Volvo S90
Audi A6 vs BMW 5 Series vs Volvo S90 - Header
Audi A6
6 Oct 2018

Audi A6 vs BMW 5 Series vs Volvo S90

We pitch the new Audi A6 against the BMW 5 Series and Volvo S90 in exec saloon shoot-out
BMW M5 review
BMW M5 - front
BMW 5 Series M5
31 Aug 2018

BMW M5 review

The legendary executive express adds even more power and four-wheel drive to its arsenal
New BMW M5 Competition 2018 review
BMW M5 Competition - front
BMW 5 Series M5
5 Aug 2018

New BMW M5 Competition 2018 review

We get behind the wheel of the upgraded 616bhp BMW M5 Competition flagship saloon
New BMW M5 Competition Pack revealed
BMW M5 Competition Pack - front
BMW 5 Series M5
8 May 2018

New BMW M5 Competition Pack revealed

Most powerful M5 ever promises performance to put the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S in the shade
BMW M5 vs Mercedes-AMG E 63 S
BMW M5 vs Mercedes-AMG E 63 S - header
BMW 5 Series M5
14 Apr 2018

BMW M5 vs Mercedes-AMG E 63 S

The new BMW M5 promises an amazing mix of performance and luxury, but is it enough to give it the edge over the Mercedes-AMG E 63?
New BMW M5 2018 UK review
New BMW M5 - front
BMW 5 Series M5
21 Mar 2018

New BMW M5 2018 UK review

We drive the new BMW M5 supersaloon on British roads for the first time
BMW 5 Series Touring review
BMW 5 Series Touring - front
BMW 5 Series Touring
16 Mar 2018

BMW 5 Series Touring review

The Touring adds a big and versatile boot to the already excellent 5 Series package
Jaguar XF Sportbrake vs BMW 5 Series Touring vs Volvo V90
Jaguar XF Sportbrake vs BMW 5 Series Touring vs Volvo V90 - front
Jaguar XF Sportbrake
11 Mar 2018

Jaguar XF Sportbrake vs BMW 5 Series Touring vs Volvo V90

The new stylish Jaguar XF Sportbrake loads up against its key exec estate rivals, the BMW 5 Series Touring and Volvo V90
BMW 530e - best hybrid cars
BMW 530e
BMW 5 Series Saloon
26 Jan 2018

BMW 530e - best hybrid cars

The 530e will appeal to company car drivers who want to cut costs without compromising driving fun
New BMW M5 sets 232-mile drifting world record - video
BMW drift record - drifting
BMW 5 Series M5
9 Jan 2018

New BMW M5 sets 232-mile drifting world record - video

592bhp M5 had to be refuelled five times mid-drift, and managed 232 miles purely sideways over 8-hours