Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The 187bhp 520d is punchy enough and it's our pick of the range. If you don't believe us, check out its 0-62mph time of just 7.6sec, which is plenty for whisking you up to motorway speeds without any fuss. Performance is roughly on a par with the rival Mercedes E220d Estate's, although in terms of real-world drivability (as opposed to outright acceleration), the Audi A6 Avant 40 TDI has a slightly wider performance window. It's fractionally more flexible as a result.
If you want more grunt, then the brawnier six-cylinder 282bhp 530d Touring has it in spades. It’s effortlessly quick (0-62mph in 5.6sec) and, in everyday driving, just as rapid as the more powerful 540i petrol. That, by the way, is the most powerful 5 Series Touring you can buy and is brilliant to drive. It offers scintillating pace that gets you to 62mph in a whisker over five seconds, but it's a bit pricey to run. The only other petrol in the range, the 520i, is the least recommendable of the engines – it needs revving hard to achieve its best, and that's not ideal in a load-lugging estate car.
Suspension and ride comfort
On the SE trim's standard suspension, the 5 Series is supple enough over big bumps around town, but it tends to produce an underlying shimmy through the car on anything other than super-smooth roads. Sticking with the SE trim's standard 17in wheels (or 18s on more powerful versions) will minimise the issue.
M Sport trim comes with suspension that's quite stiff for what's supposed to be a luxury car. This affects the ride on any surface, but most noticeably with a thud over sharper bumps in town. The added firmness is less apparent on a motorways unless you hit a ridge in the road.