5 Series/Touring/Gran Turismo
With a great choice of engine sizes and spec levels, the 5-Series is a vehicle guaranteed to hold its value in a declining market. the diesel engines are renowned the world over and the safety equipment is excellent too.
The goodEdge-of-the-seat performance
The badStiff opposition from other German marques
BMW 540i xDrive M Sport Saloon
Absolutely zero! That’s the exact number of times I was waved through into a line of busy queuing traffic, or acknowledged as I stopped at a pedestrian crossing, or thanked as I allowed a car to pull out ahead of me – I could go on.
However, the reason why I was being deliberately blanked and blatantly ignored by the masses soon became pretty obvious to me after short deliberation. It was purely down to the car I was driving which just happened to be an ultra-streamlined BMW 5 Series and it was finished in an intimidating Black Sapphire shade to complete the total irritation.
So, did the rudeness bother me? Not one iota. That’s because I was behind the wheel of a super-fast saloon that coasted through the traffic and left most of those ‘rude’ motorists staring at its tail snazzy lights.
The 5 Series has been gracing our roads for more than 45 years and is now in its seventh generation. But just like a fine wine it has matured and always gets better with age.
We tested the 540i xDrive M Sport Saloon costing £51,685, although the price was bumped up to £64,350 after a number of optional packs were introduced. One thing soon becomes very clear – the latest BMW 5 Series is definitely the best yet and oozes class with its muscular styling, the instantly recognisable BMW kidney grille, sweeping light clusters, privacy glass, electric glass sunroof, front LED fog lights, M-specific aerodynamic bodystyling, an M rear spoiler, twin tailpipes and 19-inch alloys to compete the look.
It looks pretty menacing and has performance capabilities to match the appearance. Powered by a 3.0-litre 340PS V6 petrol engine mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, the 540i can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in a rapid 4.8 seconds and tops out at 155mph. On the economy front, it can deliver a combined 36.2mpg with carbon emissions of 176g/km according to official figures.
But it’s the manner in which this Bimmer behaves that is guaranteed to leave a wide grin spreading across your face. It almost glides across the Tarmac absorbing any uneven bumps and dips as it goes. The road holding is flawless and comfort levels sublime. The acceleration and power at your disposal seem endless and the automatic transmission is perfectly timed with paddles if you want to take extra control over the gear changes.
The driver can also switch through various driving modes that modify the car’s behaviour and responses accordingly – these are called Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport. The various modes alter the instrumentation with Eco Pro displaying blue dials, Comfort offers a more traditional speedo and rev counter, and Sport introduces more dynamic dials along with an M logo as a gentle reminder that Sport in this car is going to be a little bit special.
The BMW 540i is a car designed to suit all moods. If you want a calmer, more relaxed driving experience the ride and handling can be as smooth as silk, but should you want to crank things up a little, switch across to Sport and hang onto your hat! The acceleration is instantaneous as it fires through the gears and the direct and precise steering offers plenty of driver feedback as the car sweeps through the long winding B-roads.
As one would expect from a premium marque, the interior of the 540i is beautifully crafted featuring black Nappa leather upholstery with contrast stitching and piping, along with a ceramic finish to the controls, piano black trim and powered heated seats with a massage function. The level of on-board technology is high too with the likes of a pitch perfect Harman Kardon sound system, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay, a head-up display, Bluetooth, wireless charging, WiFi hotspots and plenty more besides.
In addition, comfort levels for all occupants are excellent and the boot, which is power operated, can accommodate golf clubs, trolleys or suitcases with ease. It has a capacity of 530 litres, but this can be extended with the 40:20:40 split folding rear seats lowered.
And when you take into consideration all the on-board safety specifications that resulted in the car being awarded a maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP rating, it soon becomes apparent that the latest 5 Series is the complete package.
Admittedly, you may not make many friends on the road when driving the 5 Series, but in reality, who cares!
BMW 530d 3.0d xDrive M Sport Touring (2017)
Whatever has happened to estate cars? They used to be box-shaped load-luggers that were practical but not exactly easy on the eye. But the latest BMW 5 Series Touring boasts a dramatic athletic stance, an abundance of on-board technology, genuine all-round practicality and performance capabilities that will leave you gasping in admiration.
In fact, the Touring or estate version is actually fired by the same 3.0-litre powertrain that makes its saloon stablemate such a cracker of a car.
For the first time the 530d Touring is being offered with the company’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system. And when you factor in the M Sport styling, it looks stunning from any angle and delivers a driving performance to match.
The test car featured 19-inch alloys, a panoramic glass sunroof, roof rails, adaptive LED headlights, sleek streamlining and it was supplied in a smart Mediterranean Blue shade. But in all honesty, it’s the interior layout and extensive set-up of techno treats that really makes this car stand out.
It might not be the most practical, but the Ivory White Dakota leather upholstery certainly looks amazing in a cabin that oozes elegance, sophistication and premium styling. There is a 10.2-inch colour touchscreen, a digital instrumentation system and creature comforts such as sat nav, on-line services, music and the car’s settings are just a few of the many features that can be accessed via BMW’s traditional iDrive dial.
But this BMW boasted a whole host of additional features that helped take it to a new level. For example, the key is unlike any normal object designed for locking or unlocking a vehicle. If you’re standing within close proximity of the car, the engine can be started and the vehicle can actually be moved forwards or backwards. This is a brilliant solution if you need to keep your pride and joy in a narrow garage that isn’t quite wide enough to open the driver’s door. It’s also fabulous if like me, you seem to get boxed in at car parks no matter how far away you decide to park from the crowds. But, be warned – this key costs £350 to replace so keep it safe.
Other onboard technology that cannot fail to impress was the Deezer music system. You can download any albums and listen to all your favourite music on the go. According to BMW this costs £160 for 12 months although it is offered for just £1 for a month’s trial.
Finally, the other state-of-the-art feature that is worthy of a mention is the gesture control system, which allows you to adjust the music volume, answer or dismiss incoming calls, change radio stations and lots more by pointing at the touchscreen and moving your fingers accordingly.
Of course, all this world class technology comes at a price. The basic cost of the test car was £50,555 but the addition of kit such as a Visibility package, Technology package, Comfort package, M Sport Plus package along with a number of optional extras bumped the price-tag up to £64,585.
When it comes to performance and driving dynamics, the 530d Touring is outstanding. It can blast its way to 62mph in just 5.6 seconds, redlines at 155mph and, according to official figures, can deliver combined fuel economy of 51.4mpg with carbon emissions of 144g/km.
Yet it remains very easy to drive and despite measuring just over 4.6 metres in length, the car proved beautifully agile and easy to manoeuvre. The all-round visibility is excellent and the reversing camera and sensors help to make light work of squeezing into spaces with limited room.
Obviously business drivers who clock up high mileage figures will be eager to get their hands on the 5 Series Touring and it won’t disappoint as it’s an accomplished motorway performer. It accelerates smoothly and rapidly through the eight-speed automatic gearbox and there is a constant supply of power on tap from the 3.0-litre 265bhp diesel engine.
The road-holding is confident and ultra-assured while the cabin is beautifully insulated against any road surface, engine or wind noise. It is a car that seems to glide across the Tarmac and is unfazed by any unexpected potholes, bumps or dips in the road. However the head-up display is a ‘must’ on this model as it is deceptively smooth and quick so reaches national speed limits in a matter of seconds.
When it comes to practicality and versatility (after all it is an estate car), the 530d Touring is first rate with a boot capacity of 570 litres – this can be increased to 1,700 litres when the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats are dropped flat automatically at the push of a button. Elsewhere there are numerous convenient storage options scattered throughout the cabin, including a deep central bin, door pockets, practical cup holders and a generously-sized glovebox.
All in all, when you factor in the comprehensive range of safety specifications, the latest 5 Series Touring model proves estate-car driving can be rewarding and it will provide stiff competition for German rivals such as the Mercedes E-Class Estate and Audi A6 Avant.
BMW 5 Series 518 SE Saloon (2013)
BMW has given its ever-popular 5 Series a mid-term revision and it’s certainly more than a few tweaks here and there.
And there is also a new entry level model that can be snapped up for less than £30k and it brings a number of financial benefits with it too.
The sixth generation of the premium business car features a number of cosmetic changes to help give its sporting character a sharper edge. There is a revised grille, a restructured lower air intake, the introduction of xenon lights as standard, indicators integrated into the side mirrors, LED headlights on some models and a redefined rear bumper. New-look rear lights introduce slender LED strips which help to emphasise the car’s width
The ride quality has been improved thanks to enhancements to the chassis and dampers and BMW designers have worked hard to maximise the aerodynamics and minimise the acoustics all resulting in a more comfortable and quieter journey.
In addition, all models are more fuel efficient than the outgoing car.
Available as a Saloon, Touring or Gran Turismo, the 5 Series comes in a choice of grades – SE, Modern, Luxury and M Sport and there is a whole array of optional packages available to personalise the cars.
We tested out the all-new entry level 518d SE Saloon with a starting price of £29,830. This model can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 9.7 seconds and has a top speed of 132mph.
According to BMW, it can deliver combined fuel economy of 62.8mpg and has carbon emissions of 119g/km.
It has a BIK rating of 18% and is in VED band C which means no road tax for the first year and £30 each year thereafter – pretty impressive for a mighty 5 Series.
The interior of the car is beautifully crafted and BMW has incorporated some fine leathers which contrast neatly with the smart headlining and brushed aluminium inlays. A soft-touch dashboard and heated sports seats add to the sophistication and elegance.
The rich array of state-of-the-art features are controlled easily via a central dial called an iDrive and this means the driver isn’t distracted searching for fiddly buttons and controls.
And it is via this iDrive that functions such as the sat nav, sound system, the car’s set-up and much more are accessed. There is also internet and you really are connected on the move.
So the new look Beamer has a number of design upgrades and is still packed with gadgets and classy features throughout, but how does it handle?
This is a car for important business drivers who spend many hours behind the wheel or working away in the back whilst being chauffeured around.
In the past, it has received some criticism for its ride quality and comfort levels, but BMW has certainly addressed that issue.
The road-holding and all-round handling was superb and any bend can be attacked and conquered with ease.
The six-speed manual gearbox was nice and smooth and acceleration was impressive. And all this from the entry level model.
The driver can change the car’s handling through a drive select feature and there is also auto stop/start to help maximise fuel efficiency.
Storage will never be an issue either as the 5 Series boasts a generously-sized boot with a capacity of 520 litres. The volume can be increased if necessary thanks to split-folding rear seats.
The car also comes packed with state-of-the-art safety features and has achieved the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests.
Buyers have snapped up more than a million 5 Series saloon models in the past three years and the revised car is likely to keep that sales surge marching forward.
BMW 530d M Sport
WHEN it comes to all round class-leading comfort and a drive guaranteed to blow your socks off, look no further than the BMW 5 Series.
The cabin is packed to brimming with classy technology, leather trimmings and comfort levels generally experienced in your own favourite armchair.
The seats can be adjusted every which way to find the perfect driving position and then with the turn of a key the M Sport Beamer bursts into life.
The slightest pressure on the accelerator offers a gentle reminder of just how much power is at your disposal and with a top speed of 154mph and incredible acceleration, the 5-Series 530d M Sport is certainly not a car for the faint hearted.
But this really is a stunningly designed and crafted model that will stand out strong in any crowded car park, although be warned, the slightly throaty roar of the engine will keep neighbours twitching at their curtains on a regular basis.
Packed with world class technology and incredible safety features, this Beamer proves its worth when you throw it into a sharp bend or take on any high speed manoeuvre, and despite being a very able performer in and around town, it really feels like a caged animal raring to be unleashed onto the open road.
And boy does it deliver. For no bend is too sharp and the instantly available boost of power is truly exhilarating, but keep a regular check on that speedo as the acceleration is exceptionally smooth and deceptive.
As one would expect the 5-Series comes very well equipped with top notch equipment levels including automatic air conditioning, electronic headlight range control, iDrive controller with shortcut buttons, courtesy lights, an on-board computer and excellent audio system.
Safety is also impressive and includes anti-whiplash front head restraints, automatic headlights, dynamic stability control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain sensor, six airbags, run-flat tyres with a puncture warning system and even an incorrect fuel protection system for those oh-my-God-what-am-I-doing? moments!
All in all, one hell of a performer. Admittedly not cheap, but worth every penny if you can afford it.