A new benchmark for the premium executive class
At a glance
- New price: £36,025 - £49,945
- Insurance group: 30 - 41 How much is it to insure?
- Great to drive
- Strong engines
- Exceptional comfort
- Packed with technology
- Best-in-class standard kit
- Drive varies according to spec
- E-Class has a bigger boot
- Only two trim levels
- Occasionally jerky gearchanges
The BMW 5 Series is a premium executive saloon that is now in its seventh generation. Officially on sale from February 2017, the all-new model launches with just four engine variants – 520d and 530d turbodiesels plus 530i and 540i turbo petrols – with a plug-in hybrid 530e iPerformance, more economical and even sportier choices set to join the range shortly afterwards.
Lighter, more powerful and more efficient than its predecessor, which was consistently the best-selling car in its class, the latest 5 Series remains focused on BMW’s traditional values of driving pleasure and performance. But it adds even greater levels of luxury to the mix, with an intricate, high-quality interior design, (generally) plush ride comfort and a large number of cutting-edge technologies, many of which have filtered down from the flagship BMW 7 Series. At launch, its entry-level SE specification has more standard equipment than any rival, meaning it also adds great value to the challenge it presents to the Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Jaguar XF and Lexus GS.
Still the ultimate driving machine?
We have so far been able to sample only the 540i with rear-wheel drive and the 530d xDrive all-wheel drive models. All 5 Series come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox; this is largely an excellent transmission.
Performance from both engines is very strong, and combined with handling that feels immediately more agile than the preceding 5 Series, this is a big, comfortable, highly-specced car that can cover even tricky roads exceptionally quickly. While the interior may not have quite the wow factor of the Mercedes E-Class, the 5 Series has plenty of passenger space front and rear, and feels noticeably more composed from behind the steering wheel – and that applies to both driving fast and cruising gently.
Trim levels and technology
UK buyers have the choice of SE or M Sport trim levels at launch, though the forthcoming 520d EfficientDynamics is a standalone model. Satellite-navigation is fitted as standard on all 5 Series – as it is on every BMW.
Technology highlights on the 5 Series include the latest iDrive infotainment system, with optional touchscreen and Gesture Control; an optional head-up display that’s 70% larger than before; and the optional Driving Assistant Plus, a new suite of electronic aids that represent a stepping stone towards self-driving cars – indeed, new 5 Series can safely change lanes on the motorway without the driver touching the steering wheel.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of tech, though.
The best BMW 5 Series to buy
Fuel economy-minded buyers will be particularly interested in the 520d EfficientDynamics when it arrives, as it emits as little as 102g/km CO2 – equivalent to an official fuel consumption figure of 72.4mpg; the 530e iPeformance plug-in hybrid will stretch this to a claimed 44g/km and 148.7mpg, but at considerable additional cost (to both your wallet and your suspension of disbelief).
The 540i is likely to be of least interest to UK buyers, owing to its comparative profligacy. We do not get the M550i xDrive high-performance model offered on the Continent as BMW is not building it in right-hand drive; a fully-blown M5 with supercar-rivalling pace will be coming our way in the not too distant future, however.
Whichever 5 Series you choose, you’ll be getting a car that is right at the top of its class.