BMW 5 Series saloon

Price  £30,865 - £57,910

BMW 5 Series saloon

reviewed by Carbuyer

  • Interior space
  • Fun to drive
  • Efficient engines
  • 5 Series GT looks awkward
  • Long, expensive options list
  • Bland styling

At a glance

The greenest
520d SE 4dr £32,365
The cheapest
518d SE 4dr £30,865
The fastest
550i M Sport Auto 4dr £57,910
Top of the range
550i M Sport Auto 4dr £57,910

"The BMW 5 Series has been leading the way in the executive class for years and this latest model is no different, offering sporty driving dynamics, superb long-distance comfort and an engine to suit everyone."

It's impossible to talk about the BMW 5 Series without comparing it to its most significant rivals – the Mercedes E-Class and Audi A6. The Jaguar XF is also a worthy competitor, especially since it's now offered with a choice of cheap-to-run diesel engines. But the 5 Series still offers the most complete package of them all.

The majority of executive cars like this are bought by company-car users, and with entry-level diesel versions emitting just 119g/km of CO2, the 5 Series is cheap to run whether you’re a company driver or a private buyer. But the beauty of the 5 Series is that it's not simply a one-trick pony – the more powerful six-cylinder turbocharged petrol and diesel engines are smooth and still return impressive fuel economy compared to rivals. The V8-powered M5 has enough performance to keep up with supercars.

However, the 184bhp 520d, with its 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, makes most sense for UK drivers. Performance is more than adequate, while fuel economy and CO2 emissions of 62.8mpg and 119g/km respectively mean road tax of just £30 a year.

Whichever engine you go for, the 5 Series drives brilliantly, with responsive steering, strong brakes and excellent high-speed agility that's sure to please driving enthusiasts. Yet that doesn’t come at the expense of comfort, making it an excellent motorway cruiser.

Four trim levels are available – SE, Modern, Luxury and M Sport. It's the well equipped yet cheapest SE model that we’d recommend, thanks to its standard sat nav, DAB digital radio and leather upholstery. The M Sport is popular in the UK for its sporty styling add-ons, but if you don’t want the firm M Sport suspension, make sure to add the softer SE springs as a no-cost option.

The 5 Series saloon achieved a full five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating, but that's not the only body on offer. The 5 Series Touring adds a bigger boot with hardly any effect on the driving experience, while the 5 Series GT adds a bigger boot plus a more luxurious and spacious environment for rear-seat passengers.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.9 / 5

Efficient diesel engines make the BMW 5 Series surprisingly cheap for company-car users – but private buyers shouldn’t discount petrols

Engines, drive & performance

5 / 5

Even entry-level BMW 5 Series models are rewarding to drive – it's easily the best handling car in this class

Interior & comfort

4.2 / 5

The BMW 5 Series has an impressive high-quality, stylish cabin. Most are comfortable, but those with sports suspension can be harsh

Practicality & boot space

4 / 5

Interior and boot are both very spacious, making the BMW 5 Series an excellent long-distance cruiser or family car

Reliability & safety

4.1 / 5

No big concerns in either area – the BMW 5 Series is a class leader here, too

What the others say

4.5 / 5
based on 4 reviews
5 / 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 / 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 / 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 / 5
“The BMW 5 Series is still at the head of the executive-car class, thanks to superb build quality, classy looks and a driving experience its rivals can't match.”
What owners say 
4.3 /5 based on 367 reviews
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
4 Mar 2015
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