Buying cars used to be so simple. If you wanted something like a 5-Series, you'd buy a 5-Series. If you wanted something like a 5-Series but with a bit more space, you'd buy a 5-Series Touring.
But now, with the genre-blurring 5-Series GT - the taller, roomier, hatchbacked cousin to the 5 - thrown into the mix, the new Touring's job is a little more complicated. Add in the migrane-inducing mash-up that is the X6 - drives like a super saloon, looks like an off-roader - and it's clear the new Touring has not only to fend off the stout advances of the E-Class estate and Audi's A6 Avant, but competition from within, too.
Pity the competition. The new 5 Touring is one of the most sorted all-round cars available today. In fact, if you can stump up the not-insignificant £30k asking price for this entry-level 520d - there's a 530d, too, plus the 525i and 530i petrols, but the smallest diesel is the one everyone will buy - it could be all the car you'll ever need.
Its Big Numbers, as we've come to expect from BMW, are lightly stupefying. With 184bhp and 280lb ft of torque, the 520d will spin to 62mph in 8.3 seconds but, with the help of the standard stop-start tech, return 55mpg and 137g/km of CO2. In a car this size, that's astonishing.
On the road, the engine is as excellent as its figures suggest. This is one of the smoothest, most tractable small diesels out there, with an unfeasibly wide powerband and much shove throughout the rev range. OK, occasionally you'll miss the kidney-jabbing acceleration of the straight sixes, but for a real-world combination of economy and pace, look no further.
Though not quite so sharp as the last-gen 5 Touring, this is still one of the most entertaining big cars to whang down a back road. The handling may have lost a little purity, but the trade-off is less bobbliness from the run-flat tyres and a calmer ride - a compromise that should suit most buyers. Stiffer M-Sport suspension is available if it doesn't.
BMW has gone big on no-nonsense practicality here. Seats folded flat, you get 1,670 litres of luggage space, slightly more than the A6 Avant, slightly less than the E-Class. Under the flat-loading boot, there are a couple of shallow cubbyholes, suitable for storage of Gideon bibles. The pop-up rear window remains, enabling you to create a DIY rear ‘aero deck' and scare the hell out of your Labrador.
Criticisms? Er. The lack of a 4WD variant will dissuade a few, but there's always the A6 for that. But if you want one car that does just pretty much everything, the 5 Touring is the daddy.
On your drive for: £737pcm
Performance: 0-60mph in 8.3secs, max speed 138mph, 55.4mpg
Tech: 1995cc, 4cyl, RWD, 181bhp, 280lb ft, 1710kg, 135g/km CO2