Driving and Reviewing The BMW 5 Series For 2017

The new BMW 5 Series Touring shoots straight to the top of its class thanks to a perfect blend of performance and practicality. There’s a range of economical engines and it’s great to drive, too, with sports car-like dynamics and limo levels of luxury and refinement.
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If you’re not interested in one of the latest large SUVs, the 5 Series Touring is an extremely accomplished family car, with loads of practical touches and a beautifully built interior. A Mercedes E-Class Estate is bigger, while the Volvo V90 is arguably more stylish, but no rival can match the BMW’s considerable breadth of talents.

The BMW 5 Series Touring is one of the most complete family cars money can buy. Based on the already excellent 5 Series saloon, the Touring estate adds a bigger boot and roomier interior to the fine-driving executive car. It’s BMW’s biggest estate car, and an alternative for those reluctant to transition to one of the brand’s established SUVs.



There’s a range of engines and trims to choose from, from the entry-level 520d to a flagship six-cylinder 540i xDrive. Buyers wanting something in between may be interested in the petrol-powered 520i or 530i, or a diesel-engined 525d or 530d – though only the very cheapest models fall under the sub-£40,000 threshold for lower road tax.

All cars come with self-levelling air suspension at the rear, as well as an eight-speed automatic gearbox and a comprehensive suite of safety kit. Even basic SE trim cars include LED lights, parking sensors and Professional Navigation, as well as a 20GB hard drive and access to BMW’s Online Services.

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Upgrade to the popular M Sport spec and you’ll add bigger wheels, an M Sport bodykit and LED fog lights. These models look sportier, but command a hefty £3,000-£3,300 premium over equivalent SE cars.

The 5 Series Touring remains a hugely popular model for the German brand, actually outselling the saloon in several key markets. It accounts for around 30 per cent of 5 Series sales in the UK, rivalling cars like the Mercedes E-Class Estate and Volvo V90, as well as the forthcoming replacement for Audi’s venerable A6 Avant.

Engines, performance and drive

Amazingly, BMW’s talented engineers have managed to transfer the saloon’s fine driving manners intact
The way the BMW 5 Series Touring drives is little short of exceptional. It loses little over the fantastic saloon model, and takes the title of the best-handling wagon in the large executive class. It’s both easy and fun to drive, while retaining all the practical family-friendly features you’d expect from an estate car.

The 520d is the mainstay of the 5 Series range and will take the majority of UK sales, certainly to begin with. It’s easy to see why, too, as it’s fast, fun and frugal – feeling almost as quick as the more powerful 530d model. With 187bhp and 400Nm of torque, the 2.0-litre diesel will sprint from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds and hit 139mph flat out.

All cars come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which appears to shift smoothly at all times – even when you’re in a hurry and ask for more power. The steering is well weighted and offers plenty of feedback, and body roll is kept in check, too.

All models are refined and comfortable, even on the M Sport model’s bigger wheels. Rear self-levelling air suspension is standard on all cars, which not only improves the ride, but also raises the 5’s load limit by 120kg to an appreciable 750kg.

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Those after a bit more pace should look towards the six-cylinder 540i, which offers near-M5 performance in a discreet and usable package. It’s only available with xDrive all-wheel drive, but the 0-62mph dash is taken care of in just 5.1 seconds. The UK will not get the Europe-only M550d xDrive for the time being, nor are there plans for an M5 Touring.


Engines
BMW offers many of the same engines and powertrains across its 5 Series saloon and Touring ranges. However, while buyers are offered a wide range of petrol and diesel motors, the 530e plug-in hybrid is not currently available in estate form.

The 520d will tick a lot of boxes for a lot of buyers, offering low fuel consumption and decent performance. The 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel will do 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds and hit nearly 140mph on a stretch of empty autobahn – yet it’s also capable of more than 60mpg.

Those after a petrol 5 Series Touring are offered a choice of the four-cylinder 520i and 530i, or a range-topping six-cylinder 335bhp 540i xDrive. A pair of mid-range 525d and 530d diesels complete the range, boasting more power than the basic 520d. In addition to the 540i, the 520d and 530d are also available with xDrive all-wheel drive.

All versions are fast and relatively frugal, and each is capable of covering big distances with ease. The 520d is our pick of the range, but the excellent petrols and 530d diesels are quiet, refined and punchy, too.

MPG, CO2 and running costs
Despite its range of powerful and refined engines, the BMW 5 Series Touring can be a remarkably cost-effective car

Avoid one of the top-spec petrol engines, and you’ll find the BMW 5 Series Touring a surprisingly affordable car to run. List prices are high, however, and only the entry-level 520d SE comes in under the £40,000 barrier for lower road tax.

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It’s that model that offers the lowest CO2 emissions and best fuel economy, claiming 62.7mpg and 114g/km. The six-cylinder 530d will do 56.5mpg and 131g/km, while an xDrive model is slightly worse off again; offering 51.4mpg and 144g/km emissions. The diesels are likely to be the most attractive company cars, too, with the 520d falling into the 24 per cent BiK tax band and the rear-wheel drive 530d posting a 28 per cent rating. The petrol models are exempt from the three per cent diesel surcharge, however.

If petrol-power takes your fancy, the four-cylinder 530i will do 46.3mpg, and the 335bhp 540i should return 37.7mpg. As with any car, however, drive with a heavy right foot and these numbers will plummet.
There’s no plug-in hybrid 530e Touring – that model is only available as a saloon for the time being.


Insurance groups
Insurance for the new BMW 5 Series Touring starts at group 30 for a 520d SE, rising to group 41 for a 530d in M Sport trim. Curiously, the most expensive 540i xDrive sits one group lower (group 40), while the popular 520d in desirable M Sport spec sits in group 31.

For comparison, a Mercedes E 220d AMG Line is group 31, while a Volvo V90 D4 R-Design is bundled into group 27.

Depreciation
Residual values for the BMW 5 Series Touring are pretty good, with almost every model retaining more than 40 per cent of its original list price after three years or 60,000 miles. A BMW 520d M Sport will hold on to around 45 per cent of its value, with a range-topping 540i retaining nearer 43 per cent.

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Interior, design and technology


The new BMW 5 Series gets a beautifully built interior with loads of standard kit and plenty of cutting edge technology

The BMW 5 Series saloon is beautifully built, and the same is true of the Touring estate. It’s a sporty looking family car, especially in top-spec M Sport trim, with a long list of standard kit and a solid and durable interior.

It gets a fairly limited colour palette, comprising the usual blues, blacks, whites and greys, though inside, owners can spruce things up a bit with Ivory, Mocha or even Cognac-coloured leather. In fact, all these are no-cost options on the M Sport car, though you’ll pay extra for contrast stitching. The dash and doors are covered in yet more high-quality materials, from fine woods to brushed aluminium. BMW’s engineers have done a top job, and there’s little to tell this 5 Series apart from its more expensive 7 Series sibling.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

Every BMW, from the most basic 1 Series to the range-topping M760Li, now comes with sat-nav. That is true for all 5 Series models, too, of course, including the more practical Touring estate. Every car comes with the upgraded Professional Navigation setup, with a larger 10.25-inch screen and voice control.


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Using BMW’s familiar iDrive controller, the intuitive setup is easy to navigate and packed with functionality. It’s easy to connect your phone, while the 5 Series is one of the first cars to offer wireless Apple CarPlay technology, too. Wireless charging also features, as well as a host of connected services that allow drivers and passengers access to online apps and real-time data. The system is operated either via the swivel wheel on the centre console, or by using voice commands and gesture controls.

Practicality, comfort and boot space

The BMW 5 Series is a big and practical family car, but a Mercedes E-Class is more spacious overall

Thanks to a wide variety of handy and helpful touches, the new BMW 5 Series Touring is a big, practical and family-friendly car. It’s based on the saloon model, of course, but ditches the conventional covered boot for a more versatile estate-style body. It comes with only five seats, though the BMW X5 SUV remains a worthy seven-seat alternative.

There are loads of storage solutions dotted around the cabin, including big door bins, a sizeable glovebox, and a central armrest that doubles as a cubby. The boot is big, and the split-opening tailgate has been carried over from the old car to aid loading in tight spaces. There’s loads of room inside for adults both in the front and the rear, too.

Size

Measuring 4,942mm nose to tail, only an Audi A6 Avant is longer. The BMW 5 Series Touring is very similarly proportioned to all its main rivals, however, and is only 9mm longer than a Mercedes E-Class Estate – the shortest of all the 5’s competitors. A Volvo V90 is quite a bit wider, though the BMW is the tallest of the bunch.

However, the large exterior dimensions do at least translate to a sizeable cabin. If you want something smaller, take a look at the equally desirable and still practical BMW 3 Series Touring. BMW’s range of X1, X3 and X5 SUVs are worth a look, too.

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Leg room, head room & passenger space
The 5 Touring has an extremely spacious and well-appointed cabin, with loads of room for rear-seat passengers to sit comfortably on long journeys. Clever touches like a bubble in the roof means even cars fitted with the optional panoramic roof aren’t adversely affected when it comes to headroom. There really is enough space for six-foot passengers to sit in the back, while up front there’s loads of scope for minute adjustments to the driving position. It’s a really comfortable car.

BMW also claims there’s enough width across the back to fit three child seats side-by-side. That may be true, but only the two outer seats get ISOFIX mounts.

Boot
The BMW’s 570-litre boot is smaller than the space you’ll find in a Mercedes E-Class Estate (640 litres) but 10 litres bigger than a Volvo V90. Still it’s a huge area and one that comes littered with practical touches – like the excellent glass tailgate, which opens separately from the main boot door.

Fold the 40:20:40 seats flat and the 5 Touring’s 1,700-litre load bay is 120 litres smaller than its Mercedes rival, though it beats the Volvo’s 1,526-litre volume. You can remove the BMW’s two-piece parcel shelf in a matter of seconds, and both parts store neatly under the floor in a specially-designed compartment. There’s no loading lip, either, and given its low bumper it’s easy to lift heavy items into the back.

Reliability and Safety
BMW has a good reputation for quality, and safety is top notch – with a five-star crash test rating

Despite being a really new car, the BMW 5 Series Touring is expected to be a reliable family car. The four and six-cylinder engines all feature elsewhere in the BMW range and should prove dependable and economical to live with.

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BMW finished in 15th place in the 2016 Driver Power survey, ahead of Audi and Land Rover, but behind Lexus, Jaguar, Mercedes and Porsche. That’s still a decent finish however, and in the top 50 per cent of all 32 manufacturers.

It’s safe, too. Despite being tested as a saloon, the Touring will be subjected to all the same safety standards – built in the same factory, with the same machines. The saloon managed a full five-star EuroNCAP crash test rating, with an impressive 91 per cent for adult occupancy and 85 per cent for child occupancy. It earned an 81 per cent rating for pedestrian protection and 59 per cent in the safety assist category.

Warranty
All BMWs come with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty. That’s an identical guarantee to the one you’ll get with Mercedes, and beats Audi’s 60,000-mile limitation. The 5 Touring also gets a three-year paintwork warranty, while corrosion is also covered for 12 years.

Servicing
As with rivals, the BMW 5 Series Touring is available with the brand’s tried and tested pre-paid servicing packages. Called Service Inclusive, the 5’s first three services are covered for a fixed-rate £399, including oil and filter changes. All labour is covered, though consumables like wiper blades and tyres will, of course, cost extra.

All cars need servicing at least every 12 months, though higher mileage drivers (of which there will be many) should be visiting their dealer more frequently. Your car will inform you when it’s time to check in, of course.


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