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BMW 5-series: Test Drive Review

Date: 09 July 2013   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Category: Executive
P11D price: £40,615
Key rival: Mercedes E-class
On sale: September 2013

The differences are subtle, but BMW's executive 5-series has undergone a series of updates.

The Touring estate and luxury Gran Turismo model have both been tweaked along with the saloon driven here. The latter is a big player in the fleet market, with around 60% of sales going to corporate operators, mingling with the likes of Audi's A6 and the Mercedes E-class.

Look closely and you'll see minor tweaks to the front and rear lights and the front valance, while the interior gets satnav as standard and upgraded iDrive and Connected Drive infotainment systems, while the boot of any variant can now be opened hands-free.

New for this model and well worth a fleet operator's attention is the addition of an entry-level 518d variant. It's as much an exercise in creating a low starting price as anything, coming in below £30,000, and the 119g/km Efficient Dynamics model has also been deleted from the range now that this and the 520d are just as clean.

Needless to say, the 518d has identical emissions and economy - 119g/km and 62.8mpg - to the top-selling 520d (which itself makes up in the region of 70% of all 5-series sold in the UK, something BMW thinks isn't likely to change much) and, in standard SE guise, a P11D of £29,830 next to £31,530 for an equivalent 520d. The cheaper car puts out 143hp next to the 520d's 184hp and the 0-62mph time increases from 8.1 to 9.7 seconds in the 518d, so it's not dramatic but is a useful way of docking your bills in an expensive corner of the market.

It won't bother fleets much, but an all-new top-of-the-range twin-turbo V8 engine has been added - dubbed the 550i - with 450hp and capable of 62mph in 4.6 seconds. The firm claims that every engine in the new 5-series range now conforms to next year's Euro6 emissions regulations, too.

BusinessCar was able to test the more powerful 530d diesel, which, though considerably more expensive at £40,615 in standard trim, is one of the sweet spots in the range for drivers. BMW says it has tweaked the suspension and the chassis for the new model, so there are miniscule differences between this and the outgoing 5-series, but your average driver will never know.

It's still arguably the most involving saloon in the executive segment, complete with the German firm's trademark crisp steering, responsive handling and a comfortable ride. The 3.0-litre diesel engine might not boast the headline economy figures of the 518d and 520d models, but it is immensely powerful and wonderfully smooth, creating a smouldering 5.8-second 0-62mph time and maintaining the refinement we've come to expect of the 5-series. Only Jaguar's XF comes close as a direct competitor that's as good to drive and, given the BMW's performance, 134g/km and 47.1mpg are not to be sniffed at. 

BMW 530d SE saloon
P11D price £40,615
Model price range £29,830-£57,165
Fuel consumption 47.1mpg
Service interval variable miles
Insurance (1-50) group 41 (estimated)
Warranty 3yrs unlimited mls
Boot space 520/N/A litres
Engine size/power 2993cc 258hp
Top speed/0-62mph 155mph/5.8secs


Sublime exec transport now with tempting entry-level fleet mode.