BMW 5 Series saloon

Price  £31,115 - £58,065

BMW 5 Series saloon

reviewed by Carbuyer

  • Very efficient engines
  • Spacious inside
  • Fun to drive
  • Somewhat bland styling
  • GT version looks awkward
  • Long and expensive options list

At a glance

The greenest
520d SE 4dr £32,615
The cheapest
518d SE 4dr £31,115
The fastest
550i M Sport Auto 4dr £58,065
Top of the range
550i M Sport Auto 4dr £58,065

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

Since it first appeared in the seventies, the BMW 5 Series has become a byword for excellence in the mid-size executive saloon car class and the latest version carries on the tradition very capably. It handles superbly while also being very comfortable and luxurious, while the appeal of the badge on the nose is still very strong.

The 5 Series’ engine line-up contributes greatly to its appeal, with the diesels in particular offering a compelling blend of fuel economy, tax-friendly emissions and lively performance. The aforementioned sporty handling makes every journey one to look forward to – as does the very stylish and well finished cabin.

Not that the 5 Series is without rivals, though. Its two biggest competitors are also German: the efficient and stylish Audi A6 and the comfortable and prestigious Mercedes E-Class. Buyers also need to consider the latest Jaguar XF, which is a stronger competitor than ever for the Germans, and the very well equipped Lexus GS.

Speaking of equipment, the 5 Series has plenty – gone are the days when BMW even charged customers extra for a radio! Even the entry-level SE (the sensible choice for most buyers) packs in leather trim, DAB digital radio and sat nav (which is in fact standard on every BMW these days).

The Luxury model has a more sumptuous interior, while the well known M Sport trim firms up the suspension and sharpens up the looks to make a very enticing package. Whichever specification you choose, we’d always recommend the 520d diesel engine, which will top 65mpg fuel economy but also accelerate from 0-62mph in under eight seconds.

Other engines are available, of course, including an entry-level 520i petrol and more powerful 530d diesel. The 535i petrol provides superb performance, but you pay a bit of penalty in running costs and company fleet managers won’t like it. If you truly want to push the boat out, there's also the mighty V8-powered 550i and the legendary BMW M5 high-performance saloon, which we’ve reviewed separately.

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 369 reviews
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
1 Dec 2015
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