The BMW 5 Series Touring has consistently been a top choice for families seeking ample space in a car without the need for an SUV. Compared to its higher-riding counterparts, the Touring models offer superior fuel efficiency and handling, making them a more practical option. It's worth questioning the allure of SUVs when the Touring models are more sensible in every regard. Why pay more for a car that's more capable off-road when it's unlikely to be utilized for that purpose?
The engine options for the 5 Series Touring are similar to those found in the sedan models, ranging from the entry-level 520d to the 3-liter 530d and 540d. The 525d is the only model that doesn't offer xDrive all-wheel drive, which is available for all other models and ideal for snowy conditions. Our recent test drive of the 530d xDrive Touring, equipped with BMW's intelligent AWD system and a 3.0-liter B57 engine in single-turbo form, left us particularly impressed.
While the 520d and 525d models come with the new B47 diesel engines that offer refined power and torque, they don't quite do justice to the 5 Series' increased comfort and refinement. For longer trips with family and luggage, the 530d is the preferred choice.
The BMW 7-series is a luxury saloon that exudes a timeless appeal, thanks to its latest technology and carbonfibre elements in critical areas for weight reduction. Our test cars were powered by 3.0-litre turbodiesel sixes, offering a perfect balance of performance, character, and economy. The anticipation of the 7-series' smaller and more affordable derivative, the G30 5-series, was palpable. However, things changed by the time it arrived, with diesel engines losing their respectability, the trend shifting towards high-riding SUVs, and Tesla's Model S becoming ubiquitous in the landscape. Nonetheless, the G30 5-series is a magnificent car, and one of the best day-to-day vehicles I have ever owned.
The 5-series offers three significant options to consider when configuring the car: powertrain, saloon, or estate, and whether to opt for xDrive or not. Upgrading from the 2.0-litre diesel to the 3.0-litre will incur a price increase, but it is worth it. The 261bhp peak power may not make it a quick car, but the 450lb ft of torque, eight-speed twin-clutch transmission, and all-wheel-drive traction make it a capable one. The six in the nose adds to its effortless turn of speed, which complements the massage seats and remarkably quiet cabin, making it an excellent stress buster. Despite a fairly thirsty and motorway-shy commute, the car still manages mid- to high-30s in terms of economy, with an impressive range of 500 miles due to the cavernous 66-litre tank.
When considering the choice between a saloon or estate, the saloon's boot boasts an impressive capacity and depth that has yet to be defeated during my time with the car. However, as a dog owner, I would opt for the estate without hesitation. As for the xDrive dilemma, the answer is clear-cut: select it. While there may be certain penalties, such as an increase in price and on-paper economy, along with a subsequent inability to disable all electronics and hang the tail out, the benefits are significant. The all-weather, any-road competence that xDrive offers is remarkable, and when paired with the 5-series' superior chassis, refined driving experience, and stunning engine, it instills a sense of confidence and satisfaction that make the monthly payments much more bearable.
With xDrive, the 5-series effectively gains an additional 100bhp, allowing for exceptional acceleration on the exit of every corner and roundabout. You'll leave everything else behind at every green light, and the wheelspin and yellow traction light on the dash will never be a concern.
The Michelin-equipped M Sport car, with its massive 20-inch wheels and helipad-sized contact patches, benefits from significant mechanical grip. However, all of that torque could easily over-rotate the rears on wet days if it weren't for the four-wheel-drive system. By reducing the stability control and exploring how the system works under duress, the car remains relatively neutral, preferring squat-and-drive to slightly crossed-up Group B shenanigans. It's possible that the M5's best-of-both-worlds switchable all-wheel drive/rear-wheel drive will eventually become available in the rest of the range.
There are a few minor complaints with the 5-series, such as the large A-pillars and noticeable body roll, particularly for a car marketed as a sports saloon. The gesture and steering control assistant features also fall short in comparison to the highly advanced Tesla Autopilot. However, overall, the 5-series is a highly capable and dependable vehicle in an ever-changing world of uncertainty.
As previously stated, BMW's decision to make the 5 Series a smaller version of the 7 Series is a major advantage for the former and a disadvantage for the latter. This is due to the fact that the 5 Series offers the same level of technology as the 7 Series at a much lower price point, with the added benefit of superior handling. However, the 5 Series does have some drawbacks compared to its larger sibling, such as the presence of plastic in certain areas of the cabin, including the steering wheel buttons and HVAC controls.
Nevertheless, this minor issue speaks volumes about the overall quality of the new 5 Series Touring and the superior engineering expertise of the German automaker. For those who find the price tag too steep, optional features such as Gesture Control, Remote Parking, and the Display Key can be removed from the list to save money. It is recommended, however, to opt for the adaptive suspension and forgo xDrive, resulting in a lively and enjoyable family car that can meet all of your needs with ease and consistency.