BMW 5 Series review
The BMW 5 Series combines cutting edge kit, great driving dynamics and top-notch refinement with low running costs
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.
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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.
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.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe BMW 5 Series combines cutting edge kit, great driving dynamics and top-notch refinement with low running costs
- 2Engines, performance and driveOverall weight reduction means the BMW 5 Series is faster and better to drive than ever.
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsLow emissions and strong residuals make the 5 Series a top choice for business users and private buyers
- 4Interior, design and technologyTop quality materials, slick design and cutting edge tech combine to create a cabin that oozes premium appeal.
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe 5 Series is bigger all round and is now a match for rivals on practicality.
- 6Reliability and SafetyCutting edge safety kit is available on all models, while tried and tested mechanicals should prove reliable