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BMW's 5 Series gets mild visual tweaks and a few well-chosen updates. But are they sufficient to keep it one step ahead of the taxman and the chasing pack?
18in alloy wheels, leather heated seats, climate control, Bluetooth, DAB radio, cruise control, LED daytime running lights, active brake assist, parking assist
184hp 2.0, 333hp 3.0
Petrol plug-in hybrid:
292hp 2.0, 394hp 3.0
190hp 2.0, 286hp 3.0
SE, M Sport, M sport Edition
When it comes to the subject of executive conveyances it's hard to look beyond the BMW 5 Series, but just in case you were feeling a bit promiscuous, BMW has come up with a few fresh inducements to persuade you not to stray.
Along with the subtlest of front-end facelifts, including a re-profiled grille and front bumper, which now features more pronounced air inlets, things are rounded off at the rear with a fresh set of LED tail lights, trapezoidal tailpipe finishers, and a larger rear diffuser.
Fundamentally, the 5's cabin remains the same oasis of understated elegance as it always has been. Populated with sharply focused displays, finished with luxurious materials, and lit with subtle, ambient lighting, every knob, switch and lever feels harmoniously weighted and extremely precise in execution.
There are some welcome enhancements, however, including a new widescreen 12.3in infotainment display and a more powerful operating system. Along with the extra computing power, which produces faster responses, the management system also provides access to emails, calendar entries and contact details, so appointments can be downloaded from your digital diary and transferred directly into the satnav to guide you to your daily meetings.
Additionally, live traffic updates will suggest a different route or an earlier departure time if traffic conditions are looking particularly sticky.
The new model also comes with remote software upgrade functionality, which keeps the vehicle up-to-date via a smartphone or the car's built-in SIM card.
The tech doesn't stop there, with navigation data able to identify when a lane closure is in place well in advance of you arriving at the scene.
Time was, if you were looking for any excuses not to choose a 520d as your default engine choice you'd be hard pushed to find any.
Of course, this was before the assault on diesel power. Thankfully, BMW powertrain engineers are up for the fight, so, as well as maintaining the 2.0-litre diesel engine's muscular power output and exceptional mechanical refinement, it has been tuned to produce its lowest possible CO2 emissions. With outputs between 126g/km and 133g/km, the RDE2-compliant motor places the diesel 5 Series into a 28% or 31% BIK bracket, depending on equipment grade and wheel sizes.
If you really want to reduce your tax bills, however, then the plug-in 530e may just be the 5 Series of choice.
Yes, it is roughly £7,500 more expensive than the equivalent diesel, but according to official figure it produces just 35g/km of CO2, giving it a 10% benefit-in-kind rate and an EV range of 37 miles. Powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine that's aided by a strong electric motor, performance and refinement are on another level compared to the diesel, but it's not all hearts and flowers.
As well as the hefty price premium, there are a few other drawbacks to consider. First and foremost, you need to have somewhere to plug it in, because if you don't you can wave goodbye to those impressive mpg figures. Then there's the 120-litre sacrifice in boot space and 22-litre loss in fuel tank capacity due to the location of the substantially sized battery pack.
There are also a couple of additional issues, which do their best to make the 530e the worst-driving 5 Series.
Although the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is so discreet, to a point where you feel as if you are simply freewheeling down the road - sometimes you actually are - there are occasions where an impromptu gear shift stutter can interrupt the otherwise seamless flow of energy. This is possibly caused by the electric motor's dual role, both as a power source and as a shift-merging torque convertor, but regardless of the sources, some shifts from the normally flawless eight-speed automatic gearbox aren't quite as harmonious as normal.
Except for the rocket-propelled M5, the 530e probably boasts the sweetest steering connection of any 5 Series, but its reactions are undermined by the additional bulk of the battery pack and the inertia this causes. This additional mass also increases the 5 Series' inherent levels of body shake when driving over heftier surface imperfections and creates increased tyre roar.
Of course, we are talking forensic levels of scrutiny here, and we are judging the 530e by BMW's lofty benchmark. Assessed by any other yardstick, the 530e Series is a class act, featuring highly impressive driving manners, competitive leasing rates, and persuasive BIK rates.
BMW 530e M Sport
Residual value: 33.6%
Service, maintenance and repair: £2,844
Cost per mile: 65.7p
Fuel consumption: 201.9mpg
CO2 (BIK band): 38g/km (10%)
BIK 20/40% a month: £87/£175
Boot space: 410 litres
Engine size/power: 1,998cc/184hp 109hp electric motor. Total combined output 292hp