BMW 5 Series review
Terrific to drive and packed with the latest tech, the supremely capable BMW 5 Series is better than ever
The BMW 5 Series is a hugely capable, beautifully built and spacious premium saloon that’s also great to drive. Arguably, it is still one of the most complete cars on sale today.
Few vehicles are as accomplished as the 5 Series. BMW's executive saloon has long been considered one of the best all-round cars you can buy, and the seventh-generation model delivers the talents of its predecessors with a healthy dose of hi-tech kit and construction in the mix.
About the BMW 5 Series
There’s been a 5 Series in BMW’s line-up for more than four decades now, and we’re well into the seventh generation which received a minor mid-life facelift in 2020. Although an all-new 5 Series model is expected to be revealed later in 2023, the current big executive saloon remains an exemplar of fine engineering and offers a superbly driver-focused approach.
As you’d expect, the seventh-generation car is packed with BMW’s most up-to-date technology and safety features, but it also offers more interior space than its predecessor thanks to the adoption of the larger platform from the bigger 7 Series. It’s lighter than previously too, thanks to extensive use of aluminium for the body panels and internal structures, while efficiency improvements including plug-in hybrid (PHEV) tech have extended the model’s appeal.
As such, the BMW 5 Series is a compelling choice in a sector that includes some very attractive rivals. The list includes the Audi A6, Genesis G80, Jaguar XF, Lexus GS, Mercedes E-Class and Volvo S90, while buyers may also be tempted by the 5 Series Touring estate version.
The 5 Series is luxurious, beautifully built and has always been one of the most engaging cars to drive in its segment. The current model doesn’t disappoint - it may be bigger, but as it’s 100kgs lighter than its predecessor it feels just as nimble. The styling is smart but conservative - 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.
We named the 5 Series our 2022 Large Company Car of the Year, as it's also extremely refined, with barely a hint of wind or engine nose, except on coarse tarmac when its big tyres can transmit a fair amount of rumble into the cabin. The standard suspension is compliant and comfortable too, although the sportier M Sport set-up feels firm at lower speeds - a trade-off for its improved agility.
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 37g/km of CO2. With regular access to a plug socket and a short commute, you can run the car almost entirely on electricity, too.
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 predictably most popular, with the excellent 187bhp 2.0-litre 520d accounting for the majority of sales. The 530d features a traditional BMW straight-six diesel with 282bhp, and is designed more for performance than efficiency.
Petrol power comes in the form of the 520i, which uses a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 181bhp. There’s the M550i as well, which harnesses 523bhp from a 4.4-litre, turbocharged V8 petrol, reaching 62mph from a standstill in a frightening 3.8 seconds - still half a second less than the 5 Series-based M5 super-saloon.
Other than that, there are a pair of plug-in hybrids to consider in the form of the 530e and 545e. The former uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor to make 288bhp, which delivers performance similar to the 530i but with far lower running costs and a potential 37-mile electric driving range. Meanwhile, the 545e develops 388bhp from a 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine and electric motor, with an 11.6kWh battery contributing to an electric range of up to 33 miles depending on spec.
All cars feature an eight-speed automatic gearbox, while xDrive four-wheel drive is available as an option on 520d and 530e models - it's standard on the 530d and 545e.
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In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingTerrific to drive and packed with the latest tech, the supremely capable BMW 5 Series is better than ever
- 2Engines, performance and driveA weight reduction means the BMW 5 Series is faster and better to drive than ever
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe 5 Series plug-in hybrid models are a top choice for business users, while economical diesel versions make sense if you frequently cover longer journeys
- 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 a match for rivals on practicality, although the boot space isn't the biggest in class
- 6Reliability and SafetyCutting edge safety kit is available on all models, while tried and tested mechanicals should prove reliable