In-depth reviews

BMW 5 Series saloon review

"The BMW 5 Series has reclaimed its place at the top of the executive saloon class"

Carbuyer Rating

4.6 out of 5

Used car deals
Owners Rating

4.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Impressively low running costs
  • Very well equipped
  • Fantastic to drive

Cons

  • Design plays it safe
  • No manual gearbox available
  • More expensive than predecessor

The BMW 5 Series is a large executive saloon that’s aimed squarely at the Mercedes E-Class, Audi, Jaguar XF and Lexus ES. It offers all the luxury and build quality you’d expect from a premium German manufacturer, with a distinctly sporty character that BMW prides itself on.

It’s not just comfortable and fun to drive, though; the 5 Series is offered with a range of engines that strike a great balance between performance and economy. There’s no manual gearbox, but the two available automatics are among the best around. Most models can be specified with four-wheel drive, too.

The 5 Series was thoroughly updated in autumn of 2020, ushering in a new nose, an improved interior and updated engines, most of which now get mild-hybrid technology. 

We review the popular 5 Series M Sport trim level

The 5 Series is a deeply impressive car, especially from the driver’s seat. It's hushed inside at speed, its suspension provides a plush yet controlled ride and if you fancy a spirited drive on your favourite B-road, the big saloon manages to feel nimble, composed and rewarding despite its size and weight. Few cars on sale offer quite as convincing a breadth of ability.

There are petrol and diesel engines to choose from – not to mention plug-in electric hybrid and high-performance M models. Diesels remain a popular choice and with good reason: the 520d can return up to 57.6mpg in M Sport trim and still boasts a 0-62mph time of 7.2 seconds, making it a tempting choice for high-mileage drivers. Choose the 530d xDrive M Sport and average economy drops to around 50mpg, with a 0-62mph time of 5.4 seconds.

The range of petrol options kicks off with the 520i, featuring a 181bhp 2.0-litre that returns up to 44.8mpg and a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds. The top spec M550i xDrive produces 523bhp thanks to its twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 engine, enough for 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds - it's hard to believe there'll be a faster M5 model too. The M550i will barely do above 30mpg, however, so you'll need to bear its higher running costs in mind if you're interested in this version.

A BMW 530e plug-in hybrid is also offered, with CO2 emissions of between 32-41g/km depending on specification – a key purchase incentive for business users. It offers impressive performance and an all-electric range of up to 37 miles. A faster 545e xDrive plug-in is also offered, with CO2 from 40-52g/km and a few miles shaved off its EV range.

Inside, the 5 Series is modern and beautifully made. As with the exterior looks, the dashboard is evolutionary rather than revolutionary in its design, but build quality is great. You get the latest infotainment and connectivity systems, operated by BMW’s touchscreen-enabled iDrive setup. Front and back-seat passengers can all relax in spacious comfort and the 530-litre boot is competitive for this kind of car.

Keeping things simple, you get a choice of just three trim levels. SE cars come with leather upholstery, heated front seats, connected services, Live Cockpit Professional instruments and folding door mirrors. 

M Sport models have a redesigned front bumper, a sporty bodykit, upgraded interior trim details and sports seats, while M Sport Edition adds 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive headlights, black exterior trim and red brake calipers.. We’d stick with SE trim unless the M Sport’s aesthetic tweaks hold significant appeal, and go for the powerful yet economical 2.0-litre diesel engine in the 520d.

The 5 Series was awarded the full five stars after being put through its paces by the crash safety experts Euro NCAP and there’s a host of sophisticated safety equipment available optionally. It’s a shame that autonomous emergency braking isn’t standard in such a costly car, but the 5 Series range looks reasonable value in other respects. There’s a model to appeal to most executive needs, and whether the frugal yet frisky 520d or the rapid M550i xDrive catches your eye, you’re unlikely to be disappointed.

Most Popular

Best new car deals 2020
Deals
23 Oct 2020

Best new car deals 2020

2020 scrappage schemes: the complete guide
Tips and advice
12 Oct 2020

2020 scrappage schemes: the complete guide

The UK's top 10 best-selling cars
Best cars
13 Oct 2020

The UK's top 10 best-selling cars

More on 5 Series

2023 electric BMW 5 Series expected to wear BMW i5 badge
BMW
27 Aug 2020

2023 electric BMW 5 Series expected to wear BMW i5 badge

Next BMW 5 Series range to get choice of petrol, diesel and electrified powertrains
BMW 530e hybrid review
BMW 5 Series hybrid
26 Aug 2020

BMW 530e hybrid review

“The BMW 530e is everything you'd expect of a 5 Series but with extra economy and improved running costs"
2020 BMW M5 Competition powers in with extra tech
BMW M5 saloon
16 Jun 2020

2020 BMW M5 Competition powers in with extra tech

Facelifted 616bhp M5 Competition saloon gets tweaked styling and updated technology
Facelifted BMW 5 Series vs Mercedes E-Class: specs comparison
BMW 5 Series
3 Jun 2020

Facelifted BMW 5 Series vs Mercedes E-Class: specs comparison

The BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class have both been updated for 2020, but which is best?
New 2020 BMW 5 Series officially breaks cover
New 2020 BMW 5 Series saloon - front 3/4 driving
BMW 5 Series
26 May 2020

New 2020 BMW 5 Series officially breaks cover

Facelifted BMW 5 Series gets tweaked styling, updated technology and new flagship models for 2020
BMW M5 saloon
BMW M5 saloon
12 May 2020

BMW M5 saloon

"Buyers in the market for a supersaloon will find it hard to look past the BMW M5"
Best used family cars
Best cars
29 Apr 2020

Best used family cars

If you're looking for a second-hand car to ferry your loved ones around in, look no further than our guide to the best used family cars currently on s…
Best large executive cars
Best cars
3 Jan 2020

Best large executive cars

Large executive cars continue to hold vast appeal and cachet. We pick out 10 of the best.
Best motorway cars 2020
Best cars
2 Jan 2020

Best motorway cars 2020

Need a car that can tackle serious motorway miles with ease? Look no further than our list of the best cars for the job.
Best saloon cars
Best cars
19 Dec 2019

Best saloon cars

The saloon may be one of the oldest types of car around but it can still be the perfect match for the needs of many buyers. We show you ten of the bes…
BMW M5 Edition 35 Years limited-run model revealed
BMW M5 Edition 35 Years static
BMW M5 saloon
17 May 2019

BMW M5 Edition 35 Years limited-run model revealed

Special edition of BMW’s super-saloon celebrates the 35th anniversary of the M5
BMW 5 Series Touring estate
BMW 5 Series Touring Best Buy cutout
BMW 5 Series Touring estate
19 Nov 2018

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"
BMW 5 Series M Sport review
BMW 5 Series
3 Oct 2018

BMW 5 Series M Sport review

Arresting looks and a rewarding driving experience make the 5 Series M Sport a convincing package
BMW car configurator guide: specifications, options and trim levels explained
BMW
3 Jul 2018

BMW car configurator guide: specifications, options and trim levels explained

Your complete guide to the official online BMW car configurator and the process of building your new BMW car
BMW M5 Competition price and specs announced
BMW M5 saloon
9 May 2018

BMW M5 Competition price and specs announced

The BMW M5 Competition will cost £96,205 when it goes on sale this autumn
Lexus ES to replace GS early next year
Lexus RX
25 Apr 2018

Lexus ES to replace GS early next year

Latest Lexus ES to reach UK next year with petrol-electric power
Police hone high-speed driving skills on PlayStation
BMW 5 Series
16 Oct 2017

Police hone high-speed driving skills on PlayStation

Lincolnshire Police is trialling the PlayStation racing game Gran Turismo Sport as a way to train its drivers
New BMW M5: prices, performance, specs, release date & video
BMW M5 saloon
21 Aug 2017

New BMW M5: prices, performance, specs, release date & video

BMW’s new M5 supersaloon features four-wheel drive, produces 592bhp, does 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds and costs £90k
2017 BMW 5 Series saloon: pricing and details revealed
3 Apr 2017

2017 BMW 5 Series saloon: pricing and details revealed

Latest details, prices and specs released for new BMW 5 Series
BMW M5 saloon (2011-2017)
BMW M5 saloon
28 Sep 2016

BMW M5 saloon (2011-2017)

"The BMW M5 is a high-performance saloon that's addictively fast and brilliant to drive, but there’s no doubt it's lost some of the involvement of pre…
BMW 5 Series saloon (2010-2016)
BMW 5 Series saloon
14 Sep 2016

BMW 5 Series saloon (2010-2016)

“The BMW 5 Series saloon is so capable, economical and enjoyable to drive that its excellent reputation is genuinely warranted.”
BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo hatchback (2009-2017)
BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo hatchback
2 Dec 2015

BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo hatchback (2009-2017)

"There’s nothing quite like the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo, with its huge cabin, luxurious finish and hatchback versatility."
BMW 5 Series Touring estate (2010-2017)
BMW 5 Series Touring estate
2 Dec 2015

BMW 5 Series Touring estate (2010-2017)

"The BMW 5 Series Touring is comfortable and packed with technology, proving that it's possible for estate cars to be both desirable and practical."