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BMW 5-Series Touring vs. rivals

Is BMW's new 530d Touring the class of the executive estate field? We find out.

BMW 530d Touring vs. Rivals

The BMW 5-Series galloped away with the Best Executive Car trophy at our New Car Awards 2010 (Issue 1,126), but how does the new Touring version rate? The practical estate has just arrived in UK showrooms, so it’s time to see how it compares to its executive stablemates.

This is the fourth generation of 5-Series Touring to be sold here, and from launch there are seven engine options (three petrol and four diesel). The car is bigger and more user-friendly than the outgoing model, and promises to combine sharp handling and smart looks with innovative packaging.

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We put the 530d Touring through its paces in SE automatic trim, but this test isn’t going to be a one-horse race. Lining up against the newcomer is the class of the current field in the imposing shape of the Mercedes E-Class Estate. It is a hugely accomplished load carrier with a simply enormous boot, plus, in E350 CDI guise, strong straight-line performance. 

Completing our trio is the Audi A6 Avant. With classy styling, all-wheel-drive transmission and a solid cabin, it’s a stern rival for any practical executive wannabe. Our S line 3.0 TDI model is also the only car on test with the advantage of four-wheel drive. 

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So which of these classy estates wins our backing?

Verdict

Luxury estate buyers are very demanding, but if you want style, practicality, driving fun, pace, quality and refinement, these talented cars are the answer. And all three are great buys. 

The A6’s shapely body still looks the part, and the smooth TDI engine and taut chassis mean it’s good to drive. Other strengths are the decent-sized boot and top-quality, if dated, interior. Quattro 4WD adds another dimension to the car’s appeal, but it can’t match the space of the Merc or the sharp dynamics and all-round desirability of the BMW. It takes third spot.

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If you value maximum boot space above all else, the E-Class should be your choice. It’s also handsome, refined, comfortable and well equipped. However, the BMW 5-Series is still a better buy.

As with the saloon, it blends great refinement with involving handling. Its powerful diesel gives a masterclass in smoothness and performance, yet emits less CO2 than rivals. The spacious cabin is modern, beautifully built and lavish, too. And while the boot trails the Merc’s, the BMW is still practical, and has user-friendly touches like the split tailgate. It’s our new executive estate favourite.

1: BMW 530d SE Touring

Accomplished and desirable, the 530d Touring is all the car you will ever need. It has superb pace, yet emits far less CO2 than rivals, and so is cheaper for business use. Class-leading dynamics are matched to impressive refinement, and the interior is top-notch.

2: Mercedes E350 CDI A’GARDE

While it’s spacious, versatile and comfortable, the Mercedes isn’t as sharp to drive as the BMW. It offers excellent pace, rides well and still has the edge on carrying capacity. High emissions make it a more costly company choice than the 5-Series, though, and that’s key.

3: Audi A6 S LINE 3.0 TDI AVANT

A stylish, practical choice, despite its age. Its quattro 4WD alone will attract many buyers, and the sure-footed handling still impresses. But the steering lacks feel and the gearbox isn’t as smooth as the BMW’s set-up.

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