You'll feel like Queen of the Road thanks to the powerful engines, sumptuous ride and hushed atmosphere
Five-star accommodation with plenty of high-tech toys to keep you amused on long journeys
Masses of safety features for those inside; there's even a spring-loaded bonnet to soften the impact if you bump a pedestrian
From the interior build to the mechanical engineering, the whole package is faultless, so you can take the garage off speed-dial
Four of you will be able to stretch out, the fifth one's feet will be straddling a central tunnel in the back. The luggage will have no complaints in the large boot
Climate control, CD player and steering wheel-mounted buttons for the stereo and cruise control are standard. Masses of options to tempt you
The diesels are most popular, and rightly so. The cheapest 520d version has 181bhp, so it's plenty powerful, while the six-cylinder engines in the 530d and 535d give the Touring crushing performance. The Five's ride and handling are disappointing on standard suspension. But don't let that put you off, because adding the optional Variable Damper Control system totally transforms the car. It's not cheap, but is a must-have option, as it makes the ride smoother and the handling sharper. We'd also recommend adding BMW's brilliant eight-speed automatic gearbox, because the manual gearshift is rather clunky.
You'll feel like a private-jet pilot from behind the wheel of the 5 Series, in five-star comfort and surrounded by precision instruments and serious-feeling switches. Three passengers have masses of room, but leave the middle back seat for someone with very short legs as they'll be straddling a central tunnel. There isn't quite as much boot space as in a Mercedes E-Class Estate - 560 litres with the rear seats in place and 1670 when they're folded down - but that's still a massive amount of room, and the standard self-leveling suspension helps cope with heavier loads. All models come with four electric windows, climate and cruise controls, and BMW's iDrive system, which lets you operate most of the car's systems by twiddling one knob - it's a doddle to use and is linked to a large display on the dashboard. The options list is seemingly endless, with a head-up display that projects vital information on to the windscreen in the driver's line of sight.
The old 5 Series wasn't as dependable as you might expect, with owners rating it 'below average' for mechanical reliability in the latest JD Power survey. However, we hope BMW has addressed some of those issues in this latest version. Only time will tell. All versions come with a minimum of six airbags and a host of electronic driver aids, including stability control and a system that primes the safety kit if a crash looks inevitable. The 5 Series has been tested under the latest Euro NCAP crash-testing programme, and was awarded 95% for adult safety and 83% for child safety. That makes it a safer option than a Mercedes E-Class Estate.
The BMW 5 Series is a canny buy, whoever's paying. Go for the 520d model unless you really want the extra power: if you're a company car drive you'll pay Benefit in Kind (BiK) tax at a rate of just 20%, and if you're writing the cheque you'll appreciate the 58mpg fuel return. Whichever version you choose, rest assured that when it comes to selling, you'll get a big chunk of your money back.