Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
Broadly speaking, the BMW 5 Series is priced a little lower than its closest German rivals, the Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class. The 520d (a mild hybrid 2.0-litre diesel) is by far the most popular version and emits as little as 126g/km of CO2. That's quite a bit better than the A6 40 TDI or E220d, if you have an eye on benefit-in-kind tax.
Then again, the 530e is the best for company car users, with CO2 emissions of just 31g/km. However, when the battery pack is depleted and you're running on the petrol engine alone, you're likely to see lower fuel economy than you would in a diesel.
The desirability of the BMW badge helps keep other costs down; it helps to ensure that resale values are among the best in the class, so if you're a private buyer you'll get back a decent chunk of the list price when selling your car on. Leasing and PCP finance rates are usually highly competitive, too, and discounts are available if you're prepared to haggle. Or, to avoid haggling altogether yet still get a healthy discount, check out our New Car Buying service.
Equipment, options and extras
Entry-level SE trim is the one we’d go for. It’s the cheapest and still comes with plenty of luxuries. These include leather seat trim, heated front seats with electric lumbar adjustment, dual-zone climate control, ambient interior lighting, cruise control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, 17in alloy wheels (18in on the more powerful engines), along with the infotainment system, LED headlights and taillights and the front and rear parking sensors we mentioned earlier. The only option you absolutely must tick the box for is the split-folding rear seats we mentioned earlier.
M Sport trim is extremely popular, thanks largely to its more aggressive body styling and larger 19in alloys. You don't get a lot of extra substance for the added cost, but you do get a much stiffer ride. Then there is the M Sport Edition that adds even more visual garnish including 20in wheels, black rather than chrome exterior trim, M Seat belts, blue M brakes, sun protection glass, an M rear spoiler and adaptive suspension on all models aside from the ‘entry-level’ 520d and 520i.
In the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey, BMW finished 9th out of 31 manufacturers – behind Lexus, but ahead of Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes. An impressive performance for the brand, but the 5 Series itself performed even better, finishing at the top of the Luxury car class ahead of the E-Class, XF and Volvo S90.
Thankfully, should something go wrong, all 5 Series' come with a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty, which is similar to the cover provided by most of its rivals.
Safety and security
All models come with a minimum of six airbags and a host of electronic driver aids, including stability control. Automatic emergency braking (AEB), with pedestrian detection, is also standard to reduce the chances of you accidentally running into the car (or person) in front.
Optional safety kit includes lane departure warning, automatic high-beam assist for the headlights, a driver fatigue detector and speed limit recognition. We’d recommend considering the Driving Assistant Professional option, which bundles all of the key active safety aids together for a reasonable price. In 2017, the 5 Series scored the full five-star Euro NCAP rating for safety, but it had a poor score for driver leg protection and weaker scores for child chest protection than either the Volvo S90 or Mercedes E-Class. Pedestrian protection was deemed better for the 5 Series, though.
An alarm, engine immobiliser, deadlocks (which prevent the doors being opened, even if a window is smashed) and locking wheel nuts are fitted to every 5 Series to ward off thieves. Security expert Thatcham awarded the car five out of five for its resistance to being stolen and four out of five for its resistance to being broken into.
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