Category winner

It’s hard to recall another year with so many exceptional new models vying for our overall Car of the Year award, which makes the BMW 5 Series’s victory all the more impressive.

The Seat Ateca and Skoda Kodiaq ran it closest, both fully deserving their class wins. However, the BMW beats its key rivals more convincingly in the key areas.

Put simply, it wins its class by a knockout rather than on points, and that’s why it takes the overall crown.

The 520d SE with optional variable dampers is the pick of the 5 Series range. But whichever version you choose, you’ll be getting one of the classiest and most comfortable cars on sale today.

WE’VE TRADITIONALLY CLASSED the likes of the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Jaguar XF as large executive cars. However, the latest versions of these desirable saloons are so spacious and well finished that we reckon they’re fully deserving of the ‘luxury car’ tag.

The 5 Series in particular is plush enough inside to compare favourably with just about any other car on sale. Most features, including its iDrive infotainment, are taken from the pricier 7 Series, but in some ways the 5 Series is even more sophisticated: a semi-autonomous driving mode is available that lets you take your hands off the wheel for up to 30 seconds.

Standard kit includes everything from sat-nav to leather upholstery and an automatic gearbox. In fact, the only option we strongly recommend you add is variable dampers (£985), which turns a good-to-drive car into a truly exceptional one.

If your budget will stretch, the more powerful and super-smooth 530d diesel engine might tempt you, but in truth the entry-level 520d will suit most people better; it’s still strong and quiet, and emits a lot less CO2.

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