The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Every BMW 5 Series has a comfortable and supportive driver’s seat, with electric seat height and backrest angle adjustment as standard along with electrically adjustable lumbar support.
The 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 electrically adjustable seats – with a memory for different driving positions – are optional.
Fortunately, every 5 Series comes with front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera and a parking assistant system which can steer the car into spaces for you and reverse it distances of up to 50 metres. A 360-degree camera is also available as part of the Technology Plus Pack.
At night, bright LED headlights are standard, or you can upgrade the headlights to clever adaptive LED units. These can stay on main beams but shape their light field around any cars in front to avoid dazzling other road users. This function also features on BMW’s range-topping Laserlights, and that’s rather handy when you consider they have a range of over 650 metres.
Sat nav and infotainment
You can choose 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 salubrious after dark.
The Audi A6's interior feels just as securely bolted together as the 5 Series', but the Mercedes E-Class – which, in some people's eyes, has a heap more visual swagger – feels flimsier in places.