Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1

We've driven both diesel models. The BMW 520d accounts for around 80% of all Touring sales, and in most circumstances, it is impressively smooth and quiet for a four-cylinder diesel engine, and delivers acceptable performance and low- to mid-range flexibility for typical driving.

Rev it harder and the refinement deteriorates, performance seems a little sluggish and the power delivery quickly plateaus, but there’s nothing particularly unusual in that.

The BMW 530d marks a significant upgrade. Not only do you get 263hp, but also a massive 220Nm of extra torque over the 520d, and it’s torque that’s key to a diesel’s mid-range thrust.

The additional performance turns the 5 Series Touring into a genuinely quick car, and also suits the luxurious Touring better than the 2.0-litre 520d. It’s quieter at rest, smoother through the range, and faster and more flexible too.

Four engines are available at launch: 530i, 540i, 520d, 530d.

Petrol BMW 5 Series engine specs

The BMW 530i is actually a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. An eight-speed automatic gearbox and rear-wheel drive is standard. The 530i produces 252hp and accelerates from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds. It returns 48.7mpg, with CO2 emissions of 133g/km. 

The BMW 540i uses a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. An eight-speed automatic and xDrive all-wheel drive is standard. Producing 340hp, it accelerates from 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds, and can return 38.7mpg with 167g/km.

Diesel BMW 5 Series engine specs

The BMW 520d is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel available with either six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearboxes and rear-wheel drive. It produces 190hp with 65.7mpg and 114g/km, and accelerates to 62mph in 7.8 seconds.

The BMW 530d uses a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel engine, and is available in rear- or all-wheel drive with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard. It delivers 261bhp with 60.1mpg and 124g/km, and accelerates from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds.

BMW 5 Series Touring

The 5 Series already has a bigger, less nimble feel than the more compact 3 Series, and BMW engineers soften the suspension a little for the Touring version.

So while it handles neatly, rides well and grips strongly, the balance is tilted more towards comfort than outright dynamics, with some body roll. A comparable Mercedes E-class equipped with air suspension is more comfort-focused still. Both cars are good to drive, but it’s the BMW that strikes the better compromise.

Plenty of traction and poise

Lower-powered versions including the 520d rarely need more than rear-wheel drive (unlike the saloon, the 520d Touring launches in the UK only with rear-wheel drive), and we’d recommend winter tyres as being more effective than all-wheel drive in snowy conditions anyway.

BMW 5 Series Touring

However, xDrive all-wheel drive is optionally offered on some models, including the 530d. It’s a clever system, which retains the sporty feeling of rear-wheel drive with added grip in more extreme circumstances – there’s no wheelspin when accelerating hard from a busy junction, for instance.

Steering differences

The steering of 520d and 530d models seemed quite different. Both test cars were fitted with optional adaptive suspension, while the 520d wore 18-inch alloys and the 530d a 19-inch version.

The 520d steering felt much too light in Comfort mode, and while it gained some weight in Sport mode, it felt unnatural in the way it self-centred.

The 530d steering had a more reassuring weight, for added reassurance when cornering and a greater sense of precision. Either way, however, the electrically assisted steering is not particularly feelsome, with a slightly sterile character.