A new benchmark for the premium executive class
- 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. 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.
This car 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.
Still the ultimate driving machine?
The all-new model features five engine variants – 520d and 530d turbodiesels plus 530i and 540i turbo petrols, plus a plug-in hybrid 530e iPerformance. More economical and even sportier choices set to join the range shortly afterwards.
All 5 Series come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox; this is largely an excellent transmission, with the option of xDrive all-wheel drive on all but the 530i and 530e.
Performance 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, with the 520d EfficientDynamics as 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; and the 530e iPeformance plug-in hybrid – this claims 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.
BMW 5 Series Saloon model history
- October 2016 – Seventh-generation 5 Series Saloon available to order for February 2017 delivery. Only SE and M Sport specifications are available, each paired with the launch range of 520d, 520d xDrive, 530i, 530d, 530d xDrive and 540i xDrive.
- December 2016 – Plug-in hybrid 530e available to order in SE and M Sport specification. Claimed range of up to 29 miles on electric-only power, the official efficiency rating is 141.2mpg and 46g/km of CO2 for the SE version.
- January 2017 – Available to order for March delivery is the 520d EfficientDynamics, only paired with SE specification. Official claims of 72.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 102g/km.
Read the full BMW 5 Series Saloon review to see why this four-door stalwart is still worth considering.
The Parkers Verdict
We find this executive saloon to be one of the very best in its class. The 5 Series is far and away the best equipped in this price range, probably the fastest and a strong contender for the most comfortable.
There is not a bad engine in the line-up and, although the eight-speed automatic gearbox is not quite perfect, the performance of this machine is at the very highest level.
It’s extremely well built inside and out - the quality and size of the interior makes this car an absolute dream to be inside.
Rivals from certain other German brands offer viable alternatives, but we would be hard pushed to recommend anything other than this entry from BMW.