BMW 5 Series Touring estate
"The BMW 5 Series Touring makes a powerful case for the traditional estate against the SUV, and is an almost perfect family car"
- Excellent to drive
- Pricey options
- No manual gearbox
- Cheaper alternatives
The first BMW 5 Series Touring, the estate version of the 5 Series saloon, was introduced in 1991 and since then the German manufacturer has sold over one million examples. The latest model is the fifth generation and counts the Mercedes E-Class Estate and Audi A6 Avant as its closest rivals.
A quick glance at the credentials of the latest model is enough to show why the Touring has become so popular; it offers impressive practicality, good looks, a luxury interior, a strong engine range and performance to entertain keen drivers forced to make the compromise of buying a large family car.
As you’d expect of a modern estate car, both passenger and boot space are excellent and the interior is as plush, comfortable and ergonomic as in any BMW. All examples of the 5 Series Touring come with alloy wheels, sat nav, DAB radio and leather seats, together with access to BMW's 'remote services' – a smartphone app that allows you to check vehicle status and remotely operate functions such as ventilation and central locking.
Two diesels and three petrol models are offered and three out of the five can be combined with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system. The 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel 520d is a great all-rounder and deserves its popularity – it’s quick, quiet and economical and makes it hard to justify paying extra for one of the more powerful models. Nevertheless, the six-cylinder 530d is smooth and very fast, with 0-62mph passing in just 5.8 seconds, while the 530i and 540i petrol models are quiet and swift – the former being particularly suited to those who mostly make short journeys.
Regardless of which engine you choose, you'll find the 5 Series Touring a great car to drive, particularly considering its size, both on a motorway cruise and down a twisty country road. It rides smoothly at cruising speeds, yet is well capable of entertaining an enthusiastic driver.
Although SUVs are now wooing customers away from traditional estate cars, the 5 Series Touring is a good example of why the latter can still be an excellent choice for those looking for the perfect family car. It’s practical, fast, comfortable, well equipped and good to drive; the relatively high price is the only thing to put off prospective buyers looking for a big family car.