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First Drive: Is the BMW 5 Series Touring still one of the best in its class?

·5-min read

What is it?

BMW 5 Series Touring

The BMW 5 Series Touring is a legend of the automotive industry. It’s a load-lugging estate designed to be practical as well as comfortable to drive over long distances – traits that aren’t particularly exciting. So the fact it has won fans from all walks of life shows just how good it has been.

The latest model brings the typical recipe, which is promising. BMW’s biggest estate is designed to meld badge appeal and premium quality with practicality – and although the industry as a whole is turning against diesel, the typical 5 Series buyer will be best served fueling from the black pump.

It’s no surprise, then, that there are still a couple of diesel powertrains on sale, joining two petrol and one plug-in hybrid.

What’s new?

BMW 5 Series Touring

The latest 5 Series, introduced last year, got a fresh new look and a more premium feeling interior, while electrified powertrains brought some highly economical and company car-friendly powertrains.

All of the engines were updated and improved, and driver assistance systems brought an impressively increased level of technology to the model. The infotainment system was also updated to the latest version, which saw Android Auto join Apple CarPlay.

Finally, a four-zone climate control with nanoparticle filter was introduced on the 5 Series this summer.

What’s under the bonnet?

BMW 5 Series Touring

There are a variety of engine types on offer, with plug-in hybrid options having low CO2 emissions and therefore being appealing to company car buyers. However, if you’re doing greater distances regularly, you’ll likely find a diesel is still the most cost-effective option in the long run.

There are two power outputs for the diesel, badged 520d and 530d. We’ve been testing the former, which is available with rear-wheel-drive or ‘xDrive’ all-wheel-drive, while the 530d only gets xDrive.

The 520d makes 187bhp and, in xDrive form, gets 47.9 – 52.3mpg, with CO2 emissions of 142 – 155g/km. It’s not hugely punchy under acceleration but its 0-60mph time of 7.6 seconds is entirely respectable for this class.

What’s it like to drive?

BMW 5 Series Touring

BMW has long built its reputation on how great its cars are to drive, and while the latest 5 Series lacks some of the sparkle of its predecessors, it’s still up there with the best-in-class. The ride quality is excellent at both high and low speeds, making long trips a comfortable breeze.

Like most modern cars, the 5 Series continues to grow and while it feels spacious inside it doesn’t feel unwieldy on the road. Threading the Touring along a tight country lane is incredibly easy, while there’s just enough fun to be had in corners to make the 5 Series stand out from its competitors.

The engine is excellent, too. It’s a little chuggy at lower speeds but quickly smooths out once on the move. Fuel economy-wise we were seeing in the high-40mpgs, so with a little more care and motorway miles that 50mpg figure seems entirely feasible.

How does it look?

BMW 5 Series Touring

The latest 5 Series’ updates do a great job of elevating that premium feeling from the outside, especially in classy darker shades. Changes include a redesigned, narrow ‘kidney grille’ up front, flanked by new headlights with a smart L-shaped running light design.

At the rear it has been simplified for a more elegant appearance, while the L-shaped theme continues with the rear lights. Those opting for the M Sport package also get updated sporty, aerodynamic tweaks.

It’s a smart-looking thing and has all the style required of a car in the executive market, but its biggest problem perhaps comes from within the BMW brand. It looks much too similar to the less expensive 3 Series, so could perhaps do with more distinct styling to justify its price tag.

What’s it like inside?

BMW 5 Series Touring

BMW has been on a roll with its interiors recently, preferring high levels of technology and simpler designs than some of the fussier, chintzy efforts from rivals. The 5 Series is no different, though to some tastes it could be argued the cabin looks a little dull.

The centrally mounted infotainment system is one of the best in the business, being easy to use and quick to respond to inputs. Its smartphone connectivity is seamless, too.

Space in the rear is ample even for adults, while the boot should be big enough for most – though the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is more spacious. Our only complaint here related to the seats, which had little side support and leather that felt a touch saggy.

What’s the spec like?

BMW 5 Series Touring

Prices for the 5 Series Touring start at £41,860 for the SE model, which gets an automatic tailgate, 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels depending on engine choice, the latest infotainment with a 12.3-inch display, LED headlights and leather upholstery.

Our test car was an M Sport, which starts at £45,360 and includes 19-inch alloy wheels, M exterior styling, a high-gloss ‘Shadowline’ exterior trim and M Sport brakes on some models.

An optional extra fitted to our car that we’d recommend was the Technology Pack, which isn’t cheap at almost £2,500 but brings a Harman Kardon sound system, wireless phone charging and a head-up display.


BMW 5 Series Touring

If you’re looking for an estate in the executive car class, the BMW 5 Series Touring is the obvious choice. That might also make it the boring option, but it’s top of the shopping list for a reason.

It has excellent rivals in the likes of the E-Class, but manages to offer a better driving experience and enough practicality that the smaller boot space shouldn’t be a deal breaker for most.

For those covering huge miles, this diesel is excellent, too, proving economical while also having ample performance for everyday driving duties.

  • Model as tested: BMW 5 Series 520d M Sport Touring

  • Price (as tested): £60,290

  • Engine: 2.0-litre diesel

  • Power: 187bhp

  • Torque: 400Nm

  • Max speed: 138mph

  • 0-60mph: 7.6 seconds

  • MPG: 52.3

  • Emissions: 155g/km CO2

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