Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016
- Wide choice of engines
- Brilliant car to drive
- Modern and stylish body and interior
- Economical diesel engines
- Similar cars offer more boot space
- Firm ride
The BMW 5 Series is an incredible car to drive with world leading handling and excellent build quality making it one of the best cars on the market. The interior is modern and stylish just like the exterior and both the Saloon and Touring models come with plenty of space. There is a huge list of optional extras that will allow it to be styled specifically for your needs and with the wide choice of engines you will end up with a car that was practically made for you.
Exterior and Interior
The 5 Series comes in the form of either and Saloon or Touring model with both being fairly similar inside apart from the Touring obviously receiving more boot space that the Saloon. The interior is spacious especially up front with more than enough head and leg room available, but the same can't be said for the back seats where the Audi A6 provides more room. It is an improvement from the previous generation but the legroom is still limited. The boot in the Saloon is fairly large at 520litres, but that is still smaller than the A6 and Mercedes E-Class. Rear folding seats don't come as standard either so you will have to pay extra to receive them. The Touring comes with a much better and more practical boot as it is aimed more at outgoing families than the Saloon. It is still smaller than most of its rivals by at least 70litres coming in at 410litres, but this can be increased to 1,650 litres with the back seats down. Be aware that the seats wont fold down completely flat though. There is a very useful area under the boot floor that lifts up and where you can put smaller objects into adjustable storage compartments.
There is ample storage in the cabin of both models for extra little bits and pieces that come in the form of door pockets, cubby holes and a centre arm rest come storage bin. The interior comes with a very modern feeling with excellent quality materials being used and it is all finished to an extremely high standard. The centre console is well laid out and easy to use with the switches and knobs feeling solid and strong. There is a very useful option that projects important information onto the windscreen in front of the driver field of vision, meaning the driver doesn't have to take their eyes off of the road.
All of the models come with air-con, CD stereo, electric windows and alloy wheels as standard. There is however a non ending list of options with extra accessories that includes night vision, a lane departure warning, voice control, leather upholstery, two types of sat-nav, heated seats, Bluetooth preparation and a lot more.
Performance and Economy
The shear number of engines in the 5 Series makes almost half of them superfluous especially with half a dozen upgrades over some of the engines lifetime only reinforcing this. The original entry level 520i was replaced by the 523i which is more fuel efficient and quicker than the engine it replaced managing 33mpg and going from 0-60mph in 8.2 seconds. The upgraded 525i with 215bhp is quicker going from 0-60mph in 7.3 seconds, but the fuel efficiency suffers dropping down to 32mpg. However both of these engines are made redundant really by the 2007 upgraded 530i as it is far quicker than both accelerating from 0-60mph in just over 6.0 seconds and has the top fuel efficiency in the petrol range achieving 35mpg. The same can be said for the 540i V8 as the 550i V8 that was introduced in the same year and is quicker by roughly a second going from 0-60mph in 5.0 seconds and is only 1mpg off the smaller engine achieving 25mpg.
The entry level diesel, the 520d, is the most economical engine on offer achieving 47mpg and isn't too much of a slouch either going from 0-60mph in 8.3 seconds. The 525d is pretty much unnecessary as even with the upgrade in 2007 it is only 0.5 seconds faster than the 520d but loses 7mpg. The same can be said for the 530d as the twin turbo 535d with its upgrade in 2007 makes it the quickest diesel at 6.2 seconds from 0-60mph and is on par with the smaller engine at 42mpg. Insurance costs are high starting in group 15 and making their way up to group 20 for the powerful V8 models.
Like to Drive
The 5 series is quick and fun to drive, especially considering the size of the vehicle. The 5 Series is the class leader when it comes to handling and it is clear why when you start driving with its sharp, accurate steering, excellent cornering abilities with well controlled body roll. It feels well planted and sure footed at all times. The suspension is stiff to provide such great handling abilities and so the E-Class is more comfortable, but it doesn't handle anywhere near as well as the 5 Series. There is an optional Active Steering that sharpens up the steering at slower speeds, but with the standard of steering being so high already, it seems a bit pointless and there isn't much difference. The larger Touring vehicle is just as good at coming with self-leveling suspension that ensures that heavier loads don't affect the abilities of the car.
Faults and Repairs
There have been a few problems in the 5 Series with the iDrive causing a few niggles. Models made before 2005 tend to suffer more with the iDrive playing up making the majority of controls useless including the radio, phone and heating controls. It also appears to suffer on colder mornings refusing to start until it's been driven around for a while and it's warmed up. The iDrive in newer models has proven to be much improved. There have also be several recalls that have affected almost everything including the fuel pump, airbags, engines, clutch, and heated seats that could end up burning the occupant, so just make sure that all of these have been carried out before buying a model second hand. The servicing intervals are determined by the car so depending on how you drive you could be visiting the garage more or less often than some other drivers. The servicing costs vary throughout the range with the V8's costing the most overall. Either way though they are fairly pricey at dealerships but there are some good non-franchised specialists out there who will charge on average a third less.