BMW 535d M Sport Touring road test

  • Top diesel version of the 5 Series estate
  • Immense performance from 3.0-litre engine
  • Pricey, though: from £50,405 on-the-road

If you’re after a diesel BMW 5 Series estate and only the best will do, the 535d is the one for you. It’s the fastest and most expensive of the range, powered by a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine with close to 310bhp.

The 535d is a powerful car and certainly feels it on the road. A muscular 630Nm of torque means rapid acceleration is only a twitch of your right toe away and the BMW is a superb tool for safe, stress-free overtaking.

Despite all that performance the engine is quiet and refined and the eight-speed automatic gearbox it’s paired with as standard is excellent. It even sounds nice, not just good for a diesel but good full stop. No agricultural clatter here, just a smooth, muted warble.

That power comes at a price though; the BMW 535d Touring costs £50,405 before you add any options. It’s available in two trim levels, Luxury and M Sport, both identically priced.

Here we’re testing the car in M Sport guise, which is the racier of the two. That means it comes with a slightly more aggressive bodykit, 18-inch wheels and sports seats. It also features firmer M Sport-specific suspension, though this can be substituted for the regular setup if desired.

Our M Sport-sprung test car rode very well, gliding smoothly over rippled roads with the dampers set to the default ‘Comfort’ mode and remaining nicely composed over the same surfaces when set to the firmer ‘Sport’ mode.

BMW 5 Series Touring M Sport interior

Sport mode also turns the digital instrument panel a rather angry-looking bright red, while ‘Eco Pro’ mode (a setting for optimum fuel efficiency) swaps the rev-counter for a gauge displaying power usage and how economically you are driving. These graphics are either engaging or gimmicky depending on your point of view but the regular layout in Comfort mode is a great example of digital instruments done well: clear, legible and generally nice to look at.

Interior fit and finish is excellent and the control weights and materials feel (just about) worthy of the heavyweight pricetag. The driving position is superb and the M Sport’s leather-clad sports seats are supremely comfortable.

It may be expensive to buy but the 535d won’t ruin its owner in running costs. It will manage a claimed 47.9mpg on average which is really very good for a car with such performance, and emits 154g/km of CO2 which means it will cost £175 a year to tax at present – again very good for a car that is capable of getting from 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds.

Those figures are based on the standard 18-inch wheels – our test car was fitted with optional 19-inch rims.

BMW 5 Series Touring M Sport

On the practicality front, there’s a boot size of 560 litres which is a little less than the Mercedes E-Class Estate and on a par with the Audi A6 Avant. Either way, it’s hardly small and incorporates tie-down points, a 12V socket and pop-out shopping bag hooks while the tailgate can be opened electronically.

The 60:40-split seats can be dropped via a quick release in the boot and are quite heavy to lift back into place, but then they are covered in thick leather upholstery.

Overall, the BMW 535d Touring is a practical, high-quality car that feels special to drive at any speed – but given its price, so it should.

Not only is the list price lofty but so are some of the options available. In particular, £1,775 for electrically adjustable seats (as part of the Comfort Package) seems rather steep.

Overall our test car carried more than £15,000 worth of options, including an enormous sunroof (£1,250), an upgraded Harman/Kardon speaker system (which sounded superb but costs £895) and a Head-Up display system (£995). If you’re happy to pay for the latter, it’s a crisp and beautifully designed feature that is genuinely useful.

At over £18,000 more than the base Touring model the 535d is serious money, but it is a serious car with genuine merit.

You can read more about all BMW 5 Series Touring models in our full review of the range here.

Also consider:

Jaguar XF Sportbrake

There’s a lot to like about Jaguar’s estate. It looks great, drives and rides beautifully and is very comfortable too. The 3.0d V6 is swift but emits a little more CO2 than the 535d.

Audi A6 Avant

The A6 estate is better than ever to drive but the 5 Series is still the better driver’s car overall. The A6 Avant 3.0 BiTDI is a truly rapid and practical machine.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate

Mercedes’ large estate is a natural 5 Series rival with a larger boot. The E350 diesel is swift, comfortable and refined – an ideal autobahn companion.