BMW 5 Series Touring interior
You won’t find any cheap materials in the 5 Series Touring’s roomy cabin but its simple design isn’t quite as stylish as the E-Class Estate’s interior
The 5 Series Touring’s interior looks good and feels fantastic. There aren’t any cheap, brittle plastics or scratchy trims – no matter how deep down in the cabin you look.
Swathes of glossy plastic, brushed aluminium and polished wood cover almost every inch of its minimalist dashboard. It’s not quite as eye-catching as the E-Class Estate but it looks far more modern than the Audi A6 Avant’s ageing cabin.
You can choose to crank the premium feel up even further with optional £560 piano black and £250 walnut inserts or upgrade the standard seats to softer Nappa leather items in your choice of ivory, mocha or black upholstery for £775.
If that wasn’t plush enough, you can get even more comfortable seats with a massage function as part of the £3,495 Premium Package. They’re expensive, but they could be worth it if you regularly cover long journeys.
Even entry-level models come with a slick digital driver’s display instead of conventional analogue dials – just like Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system. The screens are bright and easy to read and you can even get futuristic (if slightly frustrating) gesture controls for an extra £160. A more worthwhile upgrade is the £995 head-up display that beams key information onto the windscreen so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.
Using the Touring’s futuristic gesture control features feels a bit like playing charades with someone who doesn’t speak English
All models get BMW’s excellent iDrive infotainment system as standard – in a Mercedes E-Class Estate you have to pay a good deal extra to get the top-of-the-range system. It comes with a high-resolution 10.25-inch display on the dashboard and a second sharp display instead of analogue dials. You also get satellite navigation as standard across the range with real-time traffic updates to help you avoid sudden traffic jams.
For an extra £160 you can get gesture control features, borrowed from the luxurious 7 Series. Spinning your index finger in a circle to mute the radio or swiping your hand to dismiss a phone call might impress younger passengers, but it’s not particularly reliable and feels a bit gimmicky.
Stick to using the handy scroll wheel on the centre console and the iDrive’s a doddle to use. Its menus are logically laid out and it’s even more intuitive than the systems you get in an A6 Avant or E-Class Estate.
Both screens are easy to read – even in bright sunlight – and entering a postcode using either the on-screen keyboard or the iDrive control knob is a breeze. Using the handwriting recognition feature on the scroll-wheel touchpad takes longer, however, and it’s not quite as easy to add a waypoint as in an A6 Avant.
You can’t get Android Auto smartphone mirroring on any 5 Series Touring models but Apple CarPlay is available as a £235 optional extra. It’ll let you use a variety of your phone’s music streaming and satellite navigation apps through the car’s built-in screens.
The Touring’s standard stereo delivers punchy bass and crisp high notes but the optional £895 Harmon Kardon system is even better. For a no-holds-barred audio assault, you’ll need the Glastonbury-spec Bowers and Wilkins unit. It’ll set you back a fairly eye-watering £3,750 but it’s loud enough to shake cobwebs from attics for miles around.