Donna Kelly has over 12 years of experience in the motoring industry, writing, test driving and tweeting about cars. Her weekends are spent trackside, covering racing events.
Sitting above the popular 3 Series in BMW's line-up, the 5 Series Saloon is considered one of the best premium saloons on the market thanks to its comfortable and practical interior, hi-tech specification, and distinctive sporty character.
A regular winner of the What Car? Car of the Year Awards, the BMW 5 Series Saloon is an attractive lease alternative to the Audi A6, Jaguar XF and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
Our BMW 5 Series Saloon review covers:
Refreshed in 2020, the BMW 5 Series Saloon boasts a conservative exterior style. While the Audi A6 and Mercedes E Class are certainly more eye-catching, subtle enhancements, including LED headlights, a larger front grille and a more aggressive body kit, help emphasise the 5 Series' sporty character. Opt for M Sport models, and you'll also benefit from bespoke front and rear bumpers and larger 19-inch alloy wheels, which help give it racy kerb appeal.
Inside, there is bags of space with a generous head, leg and elbow room more legroom. At the rear, the latest 5 Series Saloon boasts more legroom than the A6 and E Class and nearly as much as the larger 7 Series. There's also lots of storage, including a decent sized glovebox, a lidded cubby behind the gear selector, two cupholders and door pockets deep enough to accommodate a small water bottle.
At the rear, the BMW 5 Series has a 530-litre boot that is smaller than the A6 but can still carry five carry-on suitcases or a child's buggy. Go for the 530e or 545e plug-in hybrid, however, and you'll sacrifice 120 litres of space due to its extra components, including the battery pack.
Still, the boot's load bay is well shaped with a wide opening, and the rear seats split or fold down if you need to carry longer items. There is also a pair of handy cubbies behind each wheel arch and some storage beneath the boot floor.
Inside, the 5 Series interior is modern and beautifully made. Inspired by the 7 Series, the wrap-around dashboard design is elegant and upmarket, and all the materials look and feel high quality. Like other models in the BMW range, you can customise the 5 Series' interior to suit your taste.
The latest generation 5 Series comes with a 12.3-inch media system using BMW's touchscreen-enabled iDrive. Satellite navigation is standard, as is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and thanks to clear graphics and fast responses, the iDrive system is amongst the best in its class.
Just two trim levels are available, including the entry-level SE and the sporty-looking M Sport. SE cars come with leather upholstery, heated front seats, connected services and folding door mirrors.
M Sport models boast exterior enhancements, including a redesigned front bumper, a sporty body kit, adaptive headlights, black exterior trim, red brake callipers and 20-inch alloy wheels, as well as upgraded interior trim details and sports seats.
Under the bonnet, the 5 Series Saloon comes with seven petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines, striking a balance between performance and economy. All cars come with automatic transmission, and most models can be specified with the BMW's xDrive four-wheel-drive system.
Diesel engines are the most popular, with the 187bhp 520d 2.0-litre engine accounting for most sales and the 282bhp 530d offering performance over efficiency.
Petrol options include the 520i petrol, which uses a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine for 181bhp, and the high-performance M550i with a 4.4-litre turbocharged V8 for 523bhp and a 0 to 62mph time of just 3.8 seconds.
There is also a couple of plug-in hybrids - badged 530e and 545e – for low running costs. The 530e uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor to deliver 288bhp and CO2 from as little as 31g/km. The 545e boasts a 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine and electric motor for 389bhp and a 37-mile electric driving range, depending on the model.
Out on the road, the 5 Series Saloon offers a comfortable ride, with low wind and road noise, even at high speeds.
On the standard passive SE suspension, the 5 Series is supple enough around town to feel smooth over big bumps, but larger wheels don't do such a good job, and low-speed ride quality isn't quite as serene as a result.
That said, the 5 Series' steering is accurate and nicely weighted and is more intuitive than the A6 and E-Class, but the Jaguar XF is still top of its class for its overall drive.
Prices for the new BMW 5 Series Saloon start from £40,355.00 OTR* or to lease from £419.95 per month.
Lease the new BMW 5 Series Saloon with Nationwide Vehicle Contracts and take advantage of some great lease offers, as well as inclusive road tax, breakdown cover, the full manufacturer's warranty and free mainland GB delivery, direct to your door.
All our BMW vehicles come from the franchised dealer network, meaning you can benefit from great lease rates, as well as the trust and reliability that comes from a main dealership.
*'On the road' price correct at time of publication and includes one year's road fund license, DVLA first registration fee and number plate fee. Prices are subject to change. Always check with your nearest retailer.