Every BMW 5 Series gets a comfortable and reasonably supportive driver’s seat with electric seat height and backrest angle adjustment, while M Sport models have bigger side bolsters to hold you in place more securely when cornering quickly. There’s also plenty of steering wheel adjustment, and the driver’s seat drops lower than it does in the rival Mercedes E-Class, so you feel as though you’re sitting in, rather than on top of, the car.
Fully electric seats with a memory of different driver positions are, unsurprisingly, an optional extra, but it’s disappointing that you also have to pay extra for lumbar adjustment support – even on the most expensive trims. This important feature really should be standard on a luxury car at this price point.
The 5 Series’ dashboard is clearly laid out and all the controls are within easy reach. In this area, the 5 Series is better than its closest rival, the Mercedes E-Class, although the margins aren’t huge.
BMW 5 Series visibility
Seeing out of the 5 Series forwards and over its bonnet is no problem at all, thanks to relatively slender front pillars and the tall, wide windscreen. It’s the same story when looking sideways to the right and left when at roundabouts and junctions.
Getting a good view of what’s going on behind isn’t quite so easy. However, many rival saloons have similarly restricted visibility, and at least every 5 Series comes with front and rear parking sensors as standard, so judging distances forwards and backwards is never a chore.
A reversing camera and a self-parking system are available as optional extras on all models, as is a 360-degree bird’s eye view monitor. Meanwhile, the optional head-up display can beam your speed, the speed limit of the road and even sat-nav directions onto the windscreen directly in your line of sight.
BMW 5 Series infotainment
Every 5 Series comes with BMW’s range-topping Professional Multimedia system, which brings a whopping 10.2in widescreen, sat-nav, various online services, a DAB radio and even a built-in 20GB hard drive to store your music on. It’s one of the best systems in the world.
The screen is touch sensitive, so you can control it by pressing it in much the same way you would an iPad. However, there’s also a rotary dial between the front seats that's surrounded by shortcut buttons. It’s much easier (and safer) than using the touchscreen when you’re driving because you just twist the dial to scroll through the on-screen menus and press it down to make a selection. It helps that the menu system is logical and easy to get the hang of.
On the options list you’ll find a range of increasingly powerful sound systems, a wifi hotspot, a digital TV and Apple Carplay, the latter of which lets you sync up your iPhone and use some of its functions on the move. There’s even a gesture control feature, which lets you operate certain functions using mid-air hand signals.
BMW 5 Series build quality
There’s no danger of you feeling shortchanged when climbing into your new 5 Series. All the materials, even those lower down that you’ll rarely come into contact with, look and feel of suitably high quality, and some of the ‘metal’ touches are the real thing, although there are also silver coated plastics. Similarly, most buttons and switches are nicely damped, although an Audi A4's interior feels even more securely bolted together.
There are different trim inserts – including wood and gloss black – that run the length of the dashboard and around the doors, and they all look and feel upmarket. The standard ambient lighting obviously doesn’t make any difference to build quality, but it does make the interior look even more swish after dark.