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Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review: BMW 5 Series

Overall verdict
It's comfy, it drives well, it's got performance *and* eco options... There's really not much to criticise


Probably the best 5 Series since the E39


Questionable new M options


What is it?

Believe it or not, we’re into the seventh generation of BMW 5 Series. Halfway through it, in fact, for the car you see here is the mid-life update of the ‘G30’ Five. It’s BMW’s oldest nameplate and in 2022, it’ll turn 50 years old. Let’s hope we’ll all be allowed out clubbing by then to celebrate.

On the surface, this one’s facelift-by-numbers – new, squarer lights, a longer kidney grille (though not new 4 Series long, thank the lord), a smattering of new colour and trim options and more hybridisation than ever. But there’s stuff you mightn’t have expected, too, not least the addition of an M550i at the top of the range for us right-hand-drive folk. Very, very good news.

And the G30 was hardly in desperate need of a refresh as it was. It’s perhaps the best-rounded 5 Series since the legendary E39 generation, combining E-Class-rivalling luxury with BMW’s usual driving nous. That its range is dramatically expanding just as the Jaguar XF’s is thinning down says a lot about this car’s dominance. Think ‘biggish posh saloon’, you probably think 5 Series. They’ve sold 600,000 of these G30s in a smidge over three years. Yikes.

Prices start at a whisker under £40,000 for a 520i saloon (a 181bhp 4cyl petrol) rising to £71,365 for the mighty M550i xDrive saloon (a 523bhp V8 that sits below the full-bore M5, while being potentially cooler).

In between you’ve a pair of diesels – the 4cyl 520d and 6cyl 530d, both of which get mild-hybrid technology to trim CO2 emissions while boosting overtaking power – and the 530e and 545e plug-in hybrids, which respectively offer 4cyl or 6cyl engine power, while both manage around 30 miles of emission-free driving if you’ve charged them up.  

They’re all eight-speed automatics as standard, and xDrive all-wheel drive is available on almost all of them – deeply sensible 520d included. Other stuff of note? There’s a bigger screen with cleverer software inside, the chance to use your phone or smartwatch as key… and more M Sport options packs than ever. Said 520d can receive some deeply unsensible options in the shape of bright red brake calipers and whopping great M sports seats inside. Given the Five usually straddles the line between sportiness and subtlety rather well – it’s why we like it – we’re really not sure what to make of all that.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
540i xDrive M Sport 4dr Auto
4.7s 165g/km 38.2 340 £52,740
The cheapest
520i SE 4dr Auto
7.8s 127g/km 49.6 184 £37,375
The greenest
530e SE 4dr Auto
6.1s 36g/km 156.9 252 £46,765