What is it?
Though many people after a comfortable car that’s practical and easy-to-drive are turning to SUVs and crossovers, there’s still a place for the humble estate. This is one such vehicle – the BMW 5 Series Touring.
Though BMW makes a raft of SUVs (and the list is growing fast), the German manufacturer still makes two rock-solid estate cars. The 3 Series and 5 Series Tourings are both top picks for those who aren’t after the high-ride of off-roaders but still want plenty of practicality. Here we’re testing the more spacious and petrol-powered 530i.
Quite a lot of what is new about this car is under the bonnet – but we’ll get to that in a little more detail later. This particular car is finished in range-topping M-Sport trim, which means you get larger alloy wheels, sports suspension and a more ‘dynamic’ bodykit. You also get a variety of M-Sport touches inside, such as a multifunction steering wheel with ‘M’ badges.
Our test car also came with optional adaptive suspension, which allows you to soften the 5’s ride just the right amount to counteract the effect that the large 19-inch alloy wheels and run-flat tyres have on it.
What’s under the bonnet?
The way BMW’s naming structure now relates to the size of engine under the bonnet means that what is actually powering the 530i may come as a bit of a surprise. Whereas older BMW vehicles wearing a ‘30’ badge would’ve been powered by a silky six-cylinder 3.0-litre, new models make use of a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder. Though it may be down in terms of capacity over the engines of old, it makes up for it with a power output of 250bhp and 350Nm of torque allowing the 530i to go from 0-60mph in 5.9 seconds before hitting a top speed of 135mph.
BMW also claims that the 530i will return 47.8mpg on a combined cycle, while emitting 135g/km CO2. Here, power is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
What’s it like to drive?
BMW always works hard to ensure that its cars have a level of involvement for the driver, and this is certainly the case with the 530i. There’s weight to the steering, and despite being a large car it’s easy to place. In Sport mode the throttle response sharpens and weight is added to the steering, though even in Comfort setting it’s an easy car to drive. Its low-speed ride is also well maintained, thanks to the adaptive suspension soaking up the first level of road imperfections.
The engine is remarkably silky for a four-cylinder, and pulls powerfully from low down the rev range. Gear shifts are smooth and effortless, and though you can take control of them by using the steering wheel-mounted paddles, we tended to stick it in full auto and leave the gearbox to its own devices.
How does it look?
The latest-generation of 5 Series is arguably one of the best-looking yet, and it certainly looks striking enough out on the road. Though our test car was finished in a rather subdued grey colour, it still looked special enough, especially when coupled with the larger alloy wheels and dropped ride height you find on M-Sport specification cars.
It’s a big car, there’s no doubt about that, but the styling of it manages to disguise its overall heft quite well – sweeping lines and relatively short overhangs make it look a little smaller than it actually is. It’s a clever effect, and one which is executed well.
What’s it like inside?
The interior of the 5 Series is a wonderfully solid place to be. High-quality materials are used throughout, and it really does feel very well screwed together. The main infotainment system dominates the centre of the cabin, but it’s fringed by buttons and controls which are simple to operate and feel robust enough to stand up to years of use.
Our only concern is how the gloss piano black finish will handle daily use – it collects dust and fingerprints very easily, and will likely look a little grubby after plenty of time with the car.
As with the saloon 5 Series, the estate offers plenty of leg and headroom for those sat in the back too. There’s also enough space for three to sit in comfort back there – making it ideal for ferrying five around without any grumbles from those sat in the rear seats.
What’s the spec like?
Our car came in M-Sport specification, and it gets a lot of standard equipment included as part of the car’s price. You get 18-inch double-spoke alloy wheels with run-flat tyres, as well as the full M Sport styling package which includes redesigned side skirts and front bumpers.
You also get automatic air conditioning, ambient lighting inside and front heated seats. Our test car also came with optional extras such as the visibility package (which includes adaptive LED headlights and headlight washers), as well as the technology package which adds wireless phone charging, gesture control and a head-up display. In total, our car came to £59,050 – which is a fair amount more than the £47,232 base price of the vehicle.
The 5 Series Touring remains one of the best options for those looking for a car which will travel great distances with little fuss, while transporting its occupants in great comfort. It’s spacious and practical, and even this petrol version delivers decent economy figures. We’d still argue that the diesel motors make for a more viable option, owing to their ability to return truly excellent miles per gallon. However, if you do need to opt for a petrol, then the 530i isn’t a bad choice at all.
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