Review

BMW 5 Series saloon

Price  £30,265 - £57,910

BMW 5 Series saloon

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Great to drive
  • Very economical
  • Large boot
Cons
  • Plain looks
  • Common sight on the road
  • Adaptive Drive is optional extra

At a glance

The greenest
520d SE 4dr £31,965
The cheapest
518d SE 4dr £30,265
The fastest
550i M Sport Auto 4dr £57,910
Top of the range
550i M Sport Auto 4dr £57,910

"The BMW 5 Series is brilliant to drive, economical, comfortable and practical, and one of the best executive cars around."

The BMW 5 series has been about since 1972 and is now in its sixth generation. In the past it has developed a reputation for being the best large executive car on the market thanks to excellent build quality, comfort and performance. The current model has just been treated to a mild facelift to give the car a fresher look.

With a huge range of engines on offer it should be easy to get a 5 Series that has the balance of performance and economy you are looking for. Even the 520d diesel (the most popular variant) is pretty quick for a basic model and can also get some impressive economy figures. There are more powerful diesels to choose from, too, and an excellent range of petrol engines, which culminate in the awesome BMW M5 performance saloon, a car that good touch 200mph if it wasn’t electronically limited. Buyers looking for extra grip can also spec the 5 Series with four-wheel drive.

Body styles range from the saloon to the BMW 5 Series Touring Estate and the five-door coupe, called the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo. Trim levels include SE, Modern, M Sport, and Luxury. All models get sat-nav, a leather interior, climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a digital radio.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.9 / 5

Superbly efficient diesel engines make the 5 Series one of the most efficient cars in class

BMW has ensured that there are plenty of frugal models in the 5 Series range to appeal to company car buyers - the basic BMW 518d can get 62.8mpg and low emissions for road tax of £30 annually. The more expensive 520d is even cheaper to run, with economy of 69mpg and road tax of just £30 per year.. The firm also offers a range of powerful six-cylinder diesel engines. The 530d model comes close to 60mpg while getting from 0-60mph in less than 6 seconds.

The diesels offer the best balance between performance and economy, but the petrol engines are still decent and the basic model can return 44mpg. The super-quick BMW M5 won’t get more than 28.5mpg.

Interior & comfort

4.2 / 5

More comfortable than ever before

With a stylish and well-built interior, the BMW 5 Series provides an excellent driving environment and comes fitted with luxuries such as a leather interior and sat-nav, though the interior of the rival Audi A6 is arguably even better. For the ultimate in fuss-free motoring we would also recommend getting the car with BMW's excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The new car also features a track pad that allows you to write instructions into the cars infotainment system and can be ordered with an auto-drive function that takes the pain out of driving on congested motorways.

In the old BMW 5 Series, BMW helped pioneer the use of run-flat tyres (they allow you to drive for a limited time with a puncture), but the car's suspension felt firm as a result. The technology is much more refined now, though, and the result is that the new model is more comfortable than the old one.

Practicality & boot space

4.0 / 5

Interior and boot are both very spacious

There's no shortage of passenger space in the BMW 5 Series, and there is plenty of head and legroom in the back, although the transmission tunnel that runs down the centre of the floor does eat into legroom for the middle rear-seat passenger.

Boot space is also pretty decent at 520 litres, but it is less than you get in a Jaguar XF and a Mercedes E-Class. Also, rear seats that fold down are a cost option, but they do free up 1,670 litres of space if you choose to order them. The 5 Series also gets plenty of cubbyholes for storing bits and pieces including large door bins and a glovebox that is cooled by the car's air-conditioning.

Reliability & safety

4.1 / 5

Both reliability and safety should prove to be first class

There should be no worries with the reliability of the BMW 5 Series and the model jumped seven places in our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey to finish in fourth place behind a trio of Skodas. The car scored highly in all areas, apart from practicality, and came 24th of 150 cars for reliability. In the process it finished ahead of all of its direct rivals.

Safety is equally as strong for the BMW and it got a five-star rating from Euro NCAP. It gets the full range of airbags and stability control, while options include a lane departure warning system, and a HUD (Head Up Display), which projects information such as sat-nav directions and speed on to the windscreen.

Engines, drive & performance

5.0 / 5

The 5 Series is the best car to drive in its class

The BMW 5 Series has the best handling in its class, with hardly any body lean in the corners, plenty of grip, and steering that inspires confidence going round bends. The optional adaptive dampers are an expensive, but worthwhile option and allow you to tailor the car's suspension to your needs.

No BMW 5 Series is slow and the 520d offers an excellent balance of performance and economy. It can return more than 60mpg, while getting from 0-60mpg in less than 8 seconds on the way to a top speed of more than 145mph.

Price, value for money & options

4.2 / 5

Standard equipment is decent and entry-level engines offer best value

It may not be a cheap car to buy, but the BMW 5 Series does offer excellent residual values, so should hold onto its value better than some rivals when it comes to trading the car in. BMW servicing will also cost more than a mainstream manufacturer's, but the company does offer a servicing package at extra cost, which covers the car's maintenance for five years or 50,000 miles. All models also get a three-year unlimited mileage warranty.

You can go for four levels of trim – SE, Modern, Luxury and M Sport. But, as basic SE models get leather seats, Bluetooth connectivity, climate control, alloy wheels, a digital radio, sat-nav and cruise control, we would be tempted to spec an SE model with one of the cheaper engines. Higher spec models can get quite pricy and make the 5 Series expensive compared to models such as the Jaguar XF.

What the others say

4.5 / 5
based on 4 reviews
  • 5.0 / 5
    "Elegant, grown up and supremely efficient, the 5-series is a major stepping stone in man's climb from primeval soup to intelligent master race."
  • 5.0 / 5
    "While BMWs have always been renowed for handling they have often been criticised for having an uncomfortable ride. But this 5 Series has no such issues."
  • 4.0 / 5
    "BMW's most profitable model is now also its most well rounded. The firm has addressed key criticisms without ruining the strengths of the old car, and wrapped it up in a successful new body with subtle detailing that grows on you."
  • 4.0 / 5
    "Drives brilliantly, economical diesels and well made, but optional dampers needed, it's common sight and has bland looks."

Last updated 
6 Jun 2014

Sponsored Links

Own this car? Leave your review.