Since 1972, BMW’s 5 Series has blurred the distinction between sports car and an executive saloon. The new seventh-generation 5 has shed 100kg by extensive use of advanced materials and adopted a more swooping, coupe-like roofline. Its headlamps now merge with its larger, kidney-shaped front grille, and the tail-lights look sharper.
The dashboard is now electronic and the centre console is a narrower, more cohesive shape. Except for the addition of hybrid and xDrive (4x4) versions, the mechanical recipe stays the same, with a two-litre turbodiesel, a 248bhp four-cylinder turbo 530i petrol, a 261bhp six-pot turbodiesel 530d and six-cylinder turbo petrol 540i iDrive, which few people will buy in the UK. The knuckleduster 455bhp M550i isn’t coming here at the moment, but an M5 version will follow.
The 5 Series was always a fine car, although the new version’s lack of steering feel is probably made worse by the extremely chunky steering wheel. Other than that, the car feels like it is driving itself, which, because of its huge array of safety systems, it almost is.
The version most people will want to buy, the £36,025 520d, which BMW claims can do 68.8mpg and 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds, was not available at the car’s launch, but both the 530d and 540i delivered their power as smoothly as cream from a jug. They both felt glued to the road and rode as all executive BMWs should. Rear headroom was fine, rear leg-room no more than adequate.
German executive cars in this category are all extremely good, especially the Mercedes-Benz E Class. The only snag with the BMW is that it is so refined it almost feels a little bland.
BMW 530d xDrive
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Combined MPG: 56.5