BMW 5 Series

The Essentials

  • Price from £30,030
  • What Car? says: 5 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 62.8mpg
  • What is it? Smart, luxurious and very good to drive - as long as you add a few choice options.


  • Drives immaculately, whatever the occasion
  • As high-tech and luxurious as piloting your own private jet
  • Enough safety kit to calm even the most anxious


  • For absolute driving thrills, look elsewhere
  • Door mirrors kick up some wind noise
  • Middle rear passenger draws the short straw
  • Drive

    One of the best to drive, thanks to powerful engines, a sumptuous ride and a hushed atmosphere

  • Inside

    Top-class accommodation with plenty of high-tech toys to keep you amused on long journeys

  • Safety

    Masses of safety features for those inside; there's even a spring-loaded bonnet to soften the impact if you bump a pedestrian

  • Reliability

    From the interior build to the mechanical engineering, the whole package is faultless, so you can take the garage off speed-dial

  • Space

    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

  • Standard and extras

    Climate control, CD player and steering wheel-mounted buttons for the stereo and cruise control are standard. Masses of options to tempt you

  • What's it like to drive?

    The diesels are most popular, and rightly so. The cheapest 520d and 520d ED versions both have 181bhp, so are plenty powerful enough, while the six-cylinder engines in the 530d and 535d give the 5 Series crushing performance. The outrageous M5 is effectively a supercar.
    The BMW's ride and handling are disappointing on standard suspension. But don't let that put you off, because adding the optional Variable Damper Control 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 (where possible).

  • What's it like inside?

    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. The boot is large, though.

    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, and includes a head-up display that projects vital information on to the windscreen in the driver's line of sight.

  • How reliable is it?

    The old 5 Series wasn't as dependable as you might expect, and was awarded below average marks 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 Jaguar XF or a Mercedes E-Class.

  • Should I buy one?

    The BMW 5 Series is a canny buy, whoever's paying. Go for the 520d Efficient Dynamics model if you're a company car driver, because its low CO2 emissions mean you'll pay Benefit in Kind (BiK) tax at a rate of just 18%: a bargain for an executive car.
    If you're writing the cheque, the standard 520d model makes more sense. Whichever version you choose, rest assured that when it comes to selling, you'll get a big chunk of your money back.