Can a car be too manly? My wife certainly thinks the 5 Series is. She reckons reverse gear is hard to engage (as with all BMW cars, it’s located with a very firm push left and up) and finds the M Sport steering wheel too thick to grasp comfortably. Jim.Holder@whatcar.com
Week ending June 17
Mileage: 4255 Driven this week: 802 miles
Our 5 Series Touring is growing on me. I wasn’t convinced at first, but the more I drive it, the more I like it. I’ve spent a lot of time in it over the last week, travelling between London, Brighton and Devon, covering over 800 miles.
What’s become obvious is how good a cruiser it is. The engine is relaxed at speed and the cabin is quiet. Most of all, the seats are brilliant – perfectly shaped and well padded. There aren’t many cars I can get out of after a four-hour stint at the wheel and not have an aching back and legs, but the 5 Series is one of them. Leo.Wilkinson@whatcar.com
Week ending June 10
Mileage: 3453 Driven this week: 210 miles
Faced with a week away with the wife, kids and their holiday luggage I took the chance to test one of the 5 Series Touring's major rivals, the Mercedes Estate. I tested it inE250 CDI Blue Efficiency SE trim, although the E220 CDI would be a closer match in performance terms).
While the BMW’s boot capacity is 560 litres with the seats up and 1670 litres with them down, the E-Class’s corresponding figures are 690- and 1950 litres. That makes the Merc the biggest executive estate on sale – and so a brilliant big load-lugger.
Frankly, it's only on these once-a-year occasions when it's handy to have the extra space, but the Merc's cavernous boot did take away some of the stresses of needing to take so much when you go away with young children. The standard powered tailgate was another help.
However, none of this makes the Merc a better car than the BMW, which is cheaper to buy, more frugal, more refined, rides and handles better and is more fun to drive.
Week ending June 3
Mileage: 3243 Driven this week: 120 miles Everyone's heard of metallic paint, but now BMW is out-trumping its rivals by offering xirallic paint.
It's essentially a more vivid metallic, thanks to special particles that reflect light more strongly when the sun shines. It works well with the Imperial Blue colour of my car – when the sun's not out it still lifts what would otherwise be a subdued colour, and in the sunlight it makes the car dazzle without making it too showy.
At £655 it costs the same as metallic paint, or it comes as standard on larger engined cars than my 520d.
The only problem is that I have to keep the car spotlessly clean to get the full effect. Still, you have to find something to do with the kids on Bank Holiday Mondays... Jim.Holder@whatcar.com