From frugal diesels to silky six-cylinder petrols, there isn’t a bad engine in the BMW 5 Series range. You’ll have to tick a few boxes on the options list to make it feel as sporty as the old car, however
You can get the BMW 5 Series with three diesel and two petrol engines and even as a hybrid. All models come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard and you can get versions fitted with xDrive four-wheel drive for a little extra grip in slippery conditions.
Pick a BMW 530i model if you spend most time pootling around town. Its 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is a little smoother than the most affordable diesel models and helps it sprint from 0-62mph in a fairly spritely six seconds. It’ll return around 40mpg if you go gently on the accelerator, too.
A diesel will be a better bet if you spend more time on the motorway. The entry-level BMW 520d model comes with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that’s reasonably smooth and impressively quiet when you’re cruising. It isn’t quite as perky as the 2.0-litre diesels in the E-Class but it’s certainly nippy enough. Standard models will return around 45mpg but those fitted with BMW’s xDrive four-wheel-drive system lose around 5mpg.
Pick the optional adaptive dampers and the 5 Series lets you have your cake and eat it – it’s comfortable and sporty in equal measure
If you’re happy to spend a little more money and sacrifice running costs for a smoother driving experience you should consider one of the BMW 5 Series’ more powerful six-cylinder engines. The BMW 530d diesel is a hugely relaxing motorway cruiser that’ll return around 40mpg while the rapid 540i petrol model is even slicker and will accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds – that’s sports-car fast.
If you’re a die-hard petrolhead you might be disappointed to hear the BMW 5 Series doesn’t come with a manual gearbox, but the standard eight-speed automatic is so smooth and responsive you won’t miss changing gears yourself.
Although it’s a big car, the BMW 5 Series is easy to drive. You get a surprisingly good view out through its large windows and the only annoying blind spot is where the windscreen meets the front door.
All models come with front and rear parking sensors as standard but you can upgrade your BMW 5 Series with a self-parking system with a reversing camera for £695 or a high-tech 360-degree camera and 3D surround view system for £1,095. The latter displays a rendered image of your car from the outside – just like having someone jump out to guide you into tight spaces – it’s an excellent feature and well-worth having if you have to park in tight spaces.
The BMW 5 Series is impressively comfortable around town and SE models soak up large bumps with ease. M Sport cars aren’t quite as relaxing, thanks to their larger alloy wheels and lowered suspension, but you can get optional adaptive dampers for £985 that help them stay settled over even the most monstrous potholes.
Annoying tyre roar is mostly muted at motorway speeds and only a hint of wind noise makes its way into the 5 Series’ otherwise very relaxing cabin. It doesn’t quite waft along like a Mercedes E-Class fitted with air suspension but it’ll chew through hundreds of motorway miles with ease. The 5 Series feels distinctly sportier compared to the rather boat-like Mercedes, but it can’t quite match the Jaguar XF’s fun factor on a quick backroad blast.
Euro NCAP awarded the BMW 5 Series an impressive five-star safety rating in 2017, making it one of the safest cars currently on sale. For greater peace of mind, however, you can get the £895 Driving Assistant package – that’ll warn you of traffic in your blind spot and alert you if you wander out of your lane on a motorway – or the £2,250 Driving Assistant Plus pack. The latter comes with adaptive cruise control and will even steer for you on motorways – provided you keep your hands on the wheel.