Like the smaller BMW 3 Series, the 5 Series is a benchmark car for cars in the executive saloon market. The old model remains one of the best options around, too, because while its two main rivals from that era, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6, both gained a four star rating on our road test, it's only the 5 Series which was awarded a full five stars.
When it was first launched in 2003, this generation of 5 Series proved to be quite controversial. That's because while most of its rivals featured family-friendly styling, the 5 Series was overtly aggressive and sporting. That look suited its driving style, too, because the 5 Series offered a far more engaging drive than most other executive saloons.
Practical and enjoyable in equal measure, the 5 Series remains an excellent choice on the used car market.
What budget do I need?
As little as £2000 can get you on the ownership ladder with an early petrol-powered 5 Series, and the diesels cost only slightly more at around £2500. For our money, though, we'd opt for a late car with relatively low mileage - a 520d version can be had for around £8000, which still represents a real bargain.
Which version should I go for?
There's a reason why most 5 Series models are of the 520d variety; it was the best model you could buy. Later cars received 177bhp from their diesel engine, and can still return close to 47.9mpg fuel economy. We'd recommend looking for a model in SE trim, too, because that gives you larger alloy wheels and front and rear parking sensors.
If you can afford to, it's worth looking out for Business Edition models as well, because their upgraded specification includes leather upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity and sat-nav.
Any problems to be aware of?
Most models were fitted with run-flat tyres as standard, but these have been known to leak air over time and can be expensive to replace. Also, make sure that any model you're thinking of buying has had its full service actions carried out, as there were a number of recalls for 5 Series models during its lifetime.
As with any car you go and see, insist on a thorough test drive and take note of any bumps or knocks you hear - especially from the suspension on 5 Series models - and if the car has the iDrive infotainment system fitted, make sure it functions as expected.
The good news for buyers is that the 5 Series, and the 520d model in particular, has a good overall reliability reputation .
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