Skip advert
Advertisement

BMW 5 Series saloon (2010-2016) - Engines, drive & performance

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

Carbuyer Rating

4.4 out of 5

Owners Rating
Be the first to review
Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.9 out of 5

You may remember BMW's former marketing slogan, which referred to its products as 'the ultimate driving machine'. Well, that core BMW philosophy hasn't been lost with the latest BMW 5 Series. It's difficult to describe what makes a 5 Series so good to drive, but take a test drive for yourself and you’ll soon realise what everyone's been raving about. The steering is nicely weighted, so you feel in full control of where the front wheels are pointing, plus it reacts immediately to your inputs.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The brakes are strong, but require a firm push to produce their best, so there's no snatchy sensation at low speeds, while the six-speed manual gearbox requires a firm push to find the next gear, giving a sporty feel.

Spend £1,550 on the eight-speed automatic gearbox, though, and you won't be disappointed – it's super-smooth in auto mode, so you can cruise along in near-silence, and if you use the steering wheel-mounted paddles, the manual changes are almost instantaneous.

BMW 5 Series diesel engines

The popular four-cylinder diesel engines in the 518d, 520d and 525d can sound a little gruff when you first turn them on, but once warmed up and at higher speeds they become much smoother. Acceleration is stronger than you’d think, too. If you’re after blistering pace, but with reasonable fuel economy, then the 535d is probably your best bet – the way the engine revs and sounds is closer to a petrol engine than any diesel that BMW’s rivals can produce.

Petrol engines

As you'd expect, the four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines are quieter than the diesels, and the 245bhp 528i provides strong performance, although it can never match the noise and character of the 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine in the 535i.

The previous 5 Series was renowned for its sharp handling, but the compromise was stiff suspension. Miraculously, this new model manages to retain the old car's sense of fun while being far more comfortable.

Go for an M Sport model with the M Sport suspension and things get a little bumpier, but BMW lets you order the softer SE suspension as a no-cost option, so you get the sporty looks without the compromise. To get the most out of the 5 Series, you'll need to pay for the optional Adaptive Drive system, which adds adaptive dampers – these are crucial for making the car firm and sporty when you need it to be, yet soft and comfortable the rest of the time.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Top 10 large executive cars – the best to buy in 2024
Best large executive cars
Best cars
19 Jun 2024

Top 10 large executive cars – the best to buy in 2024

BMW 5 Series and i5 go on sale, cost from £51k
BMW i5 reveal
News
24 Oct 2023

BMW 5 Series and i5 go on sale, cost from £51k

Most Popular

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s best PCP finance offers
Carbuyer best new car deals hero
Deals
21 Jun 2024

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s best PCP finance offers

New Audi e-tron GT now has 912bhp in RS Performance guise
Audi RS e-tron GT front quarter
News
17 Jun 2024

New Audi e-tron GT now has 912bhp in RS Performance guise

Engine management light: what to do if it comes on
Engine warning light
Tips and advice
12 Jun 2024

Engine management light: what to do if it comes on

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
26 Mar 2024

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Public EV charge point
Tips and advice
11 Jan 2023

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
21 Mar 2024

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors

Top 10 best electric cars 2024
Best electric cars
Best cars
16 May 2024

Top 10 best electric cars 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024
The best cheap-to-run cars 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024
Fastest hot hatchbacks hero
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024