Competitors range from the other two of the ‘big three’ – the Audi A6 and Mercedes- E-Class, as well as the Jaguar XF and more left-field offerings like the Volvo S90, Lexus GS and Infiniti Q70. It trounces all of them – even the newer Mercedes E-Class trails in its five star (and What Car? Best large executive car of the year) wake.
The 5 Series’ list of strengths is almost too numerous to mention, so here are ten of the reasons we think you ought to buy one.
10 reasons to buy a BMW 5 Series
10. Practically-appointed boot
Saloon cars aren’t traditionally associated with stellar bootspace, and the 5 Series saloon is no different. It’s slightly smaller than rivals’ boots, but is, however, a practical square shape with very little intrusion from the 5 Series’ rear wheelarches. It’s quite deep too, which is a bonus.
9. A luxurious interior
The interior quality of the 5 Series is one of its key strengths – even the surfaces you less frequently touch are very nicely finished, and real metal is used in place of spray-painted plastic. Go for higher-spec cars and, naturally, an even more luxurious interior will greet you.
8. Comfortable cockpit
It follows, with the luxurious interior of the 5 Series, that the cockpit of the 5 Series would be as comfortable as you’d like. With the exception of the slightly offset pedals, that’s exactly the case. Opt for electric lumbar adjustment (which, slightly annoyingly, is an optional extra), and you’ll have a range of adjustment which ensures a near-perfect driving position can be found.
7. Estate versatility
If the saloon isn’t quite practical enough for you, you’ll be pleased to know that the 5 Series Touring, the estate variant, also gets a five-star rating from us, as well as the accolade of Best estate car over £25,000 in the 2016 What Car? Awards.
6. Performance & handling
As with most other BMWs, the 5 Series benefits from a healthy dose of decent handling, and a decent glug of performance. The hybrid version is rather expensive, and the entry-level 520i is slightly underpowered, but the 520d is pick of the bunch. For keener drivers, Variable Damper Control (VDC) makes the suspension all the more rewarding, but at a price.
5. Ride comfort
That VDC comes in very handy for ride comfort, too. At low speeds, it’s comfortable and calm, and when taken to the motorway for long, high-speed miles, is all the more comfortable than the standard setup. Without, it’s not unbearable, or even bad, but the extra you spend on the system will pay dividends in long-term comfort.
Very little noise seeps into the cabin of the 5 Series, around town or when motorway cruising, particularly when it’s got a hybrid engine under the bonnet. None of the engines are loud or gruff though, with the exception of the M5’s V8 growl. Go for the eight-speed automatic gearbox on the non-M 5 Series, though, and it’s slick when you need it to be, and smooth when you want it to be.
3. Rear space
There’s space aplenty for two tall rear passengers, and although shoulder room is tight for a third passenger in the back, who will have to straddle the transmission tunnel, there’s more head room than in many rivals. Many passengers will appreciate the lack of bumped heads too – the doors are tall and open wide.
2. Front space
The BMW 5 Series has one of the roomiest front areas in the segment, with abundant leg and head room for all shapes and sizes of driver, large, wide-opening doors, a big glove box and a decent-sized cubbyhole ahead of the gear stick. The door pockets are on the small side, but overall it’s a hugely spacious car for front-seat occupants.
There are two versions of the 5 Series’ infotainment system; Business iDrive and Professional iDrive, the latter being the more expensive. You’ll be pleased to know that even the standard, 6.5in system is better than those of the Audi A6 or Jaguar XF. Spend a little more, or go for Luxury trim, and the screen grows to 10.2in. Both are a pleasure to use, are intuitive and user-friendly.
What about buying used?
The 5 Series has been around for over 40 years in some form or another, so you won’t have any trouble in buying one used, no matter what your budget and needs. The next 5 Series is just around the corner, so if you wait a few months, used prices of current-generation 5 Series cars will drop.
If you can’t wait, though, a 2-3 year-old 5 Series with between 15,000 and 20,000 miles on the clock will set you back between £21,000 and £29,000, depending on the trim level and engine. A 520d M Sport will cost around £24,000.
Got a motoring question? Our experts are standing by to help, just tweet us your question using #askwhatcar
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here