4.7 out of 5 4.7
Parkers overall rating: 4.7 out of 5 4.7

Benchmark premium executive saloon – monster M5 imperious

BMW 5-Series Saloon (17 on) - rated 4.7 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £38,600 - £119,850
Lease from new From £414 p/m View lease deals
Used price £15,225 - £85,570
Fuel Economy 25.2 - 201.8 mpg
Road tax cost £0 - £475
Insurance group 28 - 50 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Great to drive
  • Strong engines and refinement
  • Exceptional comfort
  • Packed with technology

CONS

  • Drive varies according to spec
  • E-Class has a bigger boot
  • Only two main trim levels
  • Occasionally jerky gearchanges

BMW 5-Series Saloon rivals

Written by Lawrence Cheung on

The BMW 5 Series Saloon is lighter, more powerful and more efficient than its predecessor, which was consistently the best-selling car of its type - what was once referred to as a large executive. The seventh-generation 5 remains focused on BMW’s traditional values of driving pleasure and performance, but with added technology for multimedia and driver-assistance systems.

It's also available as a Touring estate version for those who need extra boot space, but here in four-door saloon guise, there's the high-performance M550i and M5 Competition on offer ,too.

This generation 5 Series 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.

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 A6Mercedes-Benz E-ClassJaguar XF, Volvo S90 and Lexus ES.

Minor styling and engine tweaks in 2020

The changes might be minor, but they make a notable difference to the way the 5 Series looks from July 2020. The front kidney grilles are both wider and taller and the headlights are less bulbous than before. The rear comprises of a thickly-lit, C-shaped light signature for the LED taillights with a dark surround, replacing the outgoing model’s thinly-lit L-shaped ones.

The most widespread change under the bonnet is the fitment of mild-hybrid technology to increase fuel efficiency on the current engine range. Prior to this, it was only the 520d that benefitted from this system in late-2019, but this now includes the 520i and 530d diesel. This involves the use of a 48-volt starter-generator and a secondary battery to store and deploy a small amount of electrical energy.

An M Performance model, badged M550i is also made available for the first time, with power coming courtesy of a 4.4-litre turbocharged V8 petrol engine. Power is rated at 530hp, with 750Nm of torque – figures that mirror the sportier M850i coupe – and 0-62mph takes 3.8 seconds.

Just like the smaller M135i, this isn’t viewed as a closely-related version of the M5, but more of a stepping-stone from the standard 5 Series. This means, while there is an M Sport differential and adaptive M suspension fitted to improve handling performance, there is still a higher degree of everyday usability and (slightly) lower running costs compared with the flagship M5.

The 530e continues to be offered as a plug-in hybrid with rear- or all-wheel drive, but a new six-cylinder-engined 545e xDrive for the saloon arrive in November 2020.

Still the ultimate driving machine?

The 5 Series Saloon comes with a choice of engine variants - including diesels, petrols, a duo of plug-in hybrids and the two V8-powered performance variants. It's perhaps worth noting, if you are considering the more practical estate-bodied Touring, the M5 and M550i are not available in that bodystyle. The most powerful petrol engine on offer is a six-cylinder 540i xDrive instead. 

All use an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which is largely an excellent transmission, and the option of xDrive all-wheel drive can be found on 520d and 530d diesels, as well as 530e plug-in hybrid. The V8 petrol-powered M550i and M5 models only come with xDrive as standard.

Performance is strong across the range, and combined with handling that feels immediately more agile than its rivals, 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, before heading up to the M550i xDrive and flagship M5 sitting as its own model at the top of the tree. A limited run M Sport Edition was introduced as part of the 2020 update and is available for a limited time until February 2021. Satellite-navigation is fitted as standard on all 5 Series.

Technology highlights on the 5 Series include the latest iDrive infotainment system with touchscreen and rotary controller (Gesture Control is optional).

Buyers can also specify 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 just the tip of the iceberg in terms of tech, though, as a huge amount can be added from the extensive options list.

BMW M5: still king of the hill

If you want a fully blown 5 with supercar-rivalling pace, there’s the M5 which offers some serious performance credentials including 625hp, 750Nm of torque and 0-62mph in a blistering 3.3 seconds. That performance is sent through an eight-speed automatic gearbox to all four wheels, though the front ones can be completely decoupled to make the M5 rear-driven only, for when you feel brave enough.

We think the M5 is the best car against its rivals, beating competition in the form of the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S and Audi RS 6 Avant, and even the Porsche Panamera Turbo.

Click through the next few pages to read everything you need to know about the BMW 5 Series including its practicality, how much it costs to run, what it's like to drive and whether we recommend buying one.

BMW 5-Series Saloon rivals

Other BMW 5-Series models: