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New BMW 5 Series 2024 review: exec express impresses in G60 form

The new BMW 5 Series goes large on technology and electrification but the keen dynamics that have long characterised the model line remain

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Price
from £51,015
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Verdict

Once again, the latest BMW 5 Series is a staggeringly capable all-rounder. Comfortable, great to drive and wonderfully luxurious inside, there are very few flaws to find anywhere. If anything, the only real sticking points with this 530e model are the alternative options in the range; the all-electric i5 is quicker, more refined and only six grand more expensive, while the base 520, though slightly slower, costs a significant £8,000 less. 

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This is the all-new BMW 5 Series, the eighth generation of the brand’s executive saloon known as the 'G60' under BMW's internal model designation code. It’s a car that once again will be competing with Germany’s finest, including the latest Mercedes E-Class and an upcoming replacement for the Audi A6.

We’ve driven the car in all-electric i5 form already, but this is our first chance to sample the new model in the UK with internal combustion power. To be more precise, the 530e features both; this is a plug-in hybrid model that takes aim squarely at the Mercedes E 300 e

Predictably, the 530e boasts of some pretty large numbers within its specs. The first is the 19.4kWh battery, which means it can cover as much as 63 miles on a single charge - so many drivers will be able to do a great chunk of their weekly commute with zero tailpipe emissions. That’s still a touch behind the E300’s 25.4kWh battery and official 71-mile range, though. A 7.4kW charging rate is twice as fast as the previous-gen 5 Series PHEV models and allows a charge from zero to 100 per cent in three-and-a-quarter hours.

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The battery drives an electric motor that offers up a very reasonable 181bhp and 250Nm on its own, and when more performance is needed, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine sparks into life. This is the lower of two PHEV models; above it sits the 550e xDrive, which combines the electric drive with a 3.0-litre straight six petrol to deliver a thumping combined output of 489bhp. The range kicks off with the 520: a mild hybrid four-cylinder petrol.

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In practice, that PHEV system works very well indeed. Shuffling around in e-mode, the 5 Series is near-silent at town speeds, and following a slightly sluggish step off the line, has plenty of pace, too. When the engine does engage, there is a slight jolt from the eight-speed auto ‘box - not harsh, but enough to let you know that there’s now the full system’s 295bhp and 400Nm at your disposal. 

It’s enough for a 6.3-second 0-62mph time, though the power delivery is so linear thanks to that e-motor that the 530e gathers its speed quite deceptively. The only clue to the drama is the distant growl of the petrol unit; it hasn’t got the richness of a six-cylinder petrol or diesel that BMW 5 Series models of the past have sported, but it’s insulated well enough to make you marvel at just how little wind and road noise the 5 Series produces. Overall refinement is staggeringly good. 

Perhaps even more surprising is just how well the 5 Series handles. This is a car that weighs 2,080kg, yet rarely feels it on a twisty road. Body roll is brilliantly contained (suspension is by coil springs at the front and air springs over a multilink arrangement at the back), and even with sharp inputs from the quick steering, the chassis is rarely flustered. The brakes are fantastic, too; incredibly powerful and more than up to the task of hauling that mass to a halt. The transition between energy-saving regenerative braking and mechanical braking is almost seamless, too.

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With such strong body control, it’s no surprise to learn that the 5 Series doesn’t have the wafty ride of rivals like the Mercedes. But some low speed patter aside, it’s still a very soothing place to be. 

And that feeling of calm is in no small part aided by the glorious cabin. The finish is flawless, the seats are wonderfully supportive, and the tech is very slick to use. Even the on-screen air conditioning controls aren’t much of a hardship to operate, and BMW’s continued faith in its physical iDrive controls working alongside the main touchscreen and voice commands makes this one of the most intuitive systems of its type.

One of the benefits of the G60’s need to accommodate a fully electric powertrain in the BMW i5 model is that it’s little bother for it to house the smaller lithium-ion unit required for a PHEV. Its location under the floor not only helps keep the centre of gravity low (no doubt helping achieve those great driving dynamics) but also results in little to no compromise to overall practicality.

As a result, there’s the same generous 520 litres of boot space that you’ll find in a pure petrol 5 Series - though some of that space will inevitably be taken up by charging cables if you’re venturing out on a longer trip. The rear seat backs drop down to make things more versatile, though. Rear seat space is also fabulous plus the bench is soft and forgiving, which means it feels just as luxurious in the back as it does up front. 

Finding flaws with the 530e, then, is quite tricky. Indeed one of the few things we can think of is the price. Starting from £59,455, the 530e is a significant jump in price beyond the entry-level 520, which is £8,440 cheaper. The 520 isn’t quite as fast (0-62mph takes 7.5 seconds) and lacks the ability to drive in pure EV mode, but it’s lighter and even sharper to drive. 

If you do want a fully electric version, then the i5 starts from £67,695. That’s for the entry-level eDrive40: a car with a more muscular, quieter and even smoother power delivery than the 530e, plus a WLTP range of up to 356 miles - significantly further than almost any driver would cover in a day, never mind a single sitting.

Model:BMW 530e
Price as tested:£59,455
Range from:£51,015
Powertrain:2.0-litre 4cyl plus e-motor, 19.4kWh battery
Power:295bhp/450Nm
Transmission:Eight-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph:6.3 seconds
Top speed:143mph
Economy/CO2:470.8mpg/14g/km
On sale:Now
L/W/H:5,060/1,900/1,515mm
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Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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