- We like...Power, economy, low CO2 emissions
- We don't...Fiddly minor controls
Fast, alert, economical, eco-friendly - BMW's mid-size saloon nudges perfectionBMW’s 5-series saloon should come with a warning. Because, after you’ve driven one, other cars just seem so.... well, ordinary. The car’s collected a shelf-ful of industry awards, and it deserves them.
It’s classy, beautifully made and a treat to drive – smooth, responsive and comfortable. And while it’s not cheap, even the entry-level models display all these fine qualities. More than that, the low-end models ride most comfortably and offer the purest driving experience. Staying with that thought, we’d guide you away from the Sport models unless you like a stiff ride and super-direct steering. No, SE models are the ones to go for.
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The current 5 has looks that divide opinion. They’ve grown on us and we like ‘em: they give it character. But it’s the latest generation of engines that is the 5’s ace. If the idea of a 50mpg plus executive-class car, that pushes out only 140g/km of CO2 (low enough to keep your company car tax payments bearable) appeals – and it should – this is your only choice. But don’t think that this will turn out to be some gutless dawdler. The model is question – the 520d – packs 175bhp from its 2.0 diesel, and that’s enough to shove it along fearsomely – wringing out the 0-60mph dash in 8.5sec. Amazing.
The smoothness with which the 5 carries you depends on the wheel-tyre choice. There’s a fair few listed on the options sheet but, stick with what comes as standard on the SE models and you should do fine. The steering, shift and pedals each respond with a pleasing weight and sharpness, so you sense what the car’s up to and feel able to control it – down to the last nth. Manual or auto gearboxes are both sweet and easy – take your pick. A big silver dial between the front seats controls the stereo, heating and other stuff via a screen in the centre of the dash. It isn’t the easiest thing to pilot, but you’ll get the hang after a few false starts.
Inside, the cabin is just as it should be: austere, but well made and beautifully fitted together. The seat and wheel finely tailor a spot-on placing behind the wheel, and there’s space for five big adults. The interior isn’t as roomy as you’ll see in the equivalent Mercedes, but you shouldn’t hear grumbles from your companions.
The boot, meanwhile, is sensibly shaped and easy to load, thanks to a low-ish boot lip.
Which one should you buy? None are bad, although the bigger petrol engine will cost a mint to fuel and pay tax on. The entry diesel, the 520d has a winning mix of power, fuel economy and sensible CO2 emissions. For us, it’s all the 5 you’ll ever need.
- Engines2.0 diesel
- 0-60 mph8.5sec
- Insurance groups15
Motors.co.uk value verdict: