Sleek, but sensible. Fast, but frugal. Is there anything BMW’s new 5 Series Touring can’t do? Matthew Parkinson went to find out.
Back in February, I drove BMW’s fresh-faced 5 Series Saloon and I loved near-enough everything about it. Between the stylish bodywork, the exquisite interior and the vast array of invaluable gadgets and gizmos, there wasn’t really anything BMW could have added to make the car any better, but lo and behold, they’ve gone and done so anyway.
With the 5 Series Touring, BMW have created their biggest estate car to date, and it’s every bit as dashing as the Saloon - I'd even argue that the rear looks even better on this car. Unlike many people’s pre-holiday gym regimes however, a better looking rear-end was never the ultimate objective of this new model. As ever with BMW’s good ideas, form follows function.
The boot now holds a whopping 570 litres. To put that in perspective using one of Germany’s less palatable exports, that’s around 76 bottles of Blue Nun wine. Mercifully, unless you do decide to fill the cavernous boot with Prussian plonk, you’ll be pleased to know that all that extra space doesn’t result in much extra weight. BMW’s CLAR (‘Cluster Architecture’) design system uses lightweight materials such as aluminium and carbon fibre alongside traditional hardened steel to slash the car’s kerb weight, whilst ensuring the car’s body is as tough as ever. The result is a car that carries a five-star NCAP safety rating, whilst being 80kg lighter than its predecessor.
The sense of space isn’t limited to the rear either, with the BMW 5 Series offering more room up front than the Mercedes E Class or Audi A6 Avant. To help you make the most of that space, there's a ridiculous range of electronic adjustments you can make to the front seats and steering wheel, so that even a Harlem Globetrotter could get comfortable behind the wheel at the flick of a switch. Better still, the 5 Series will remember your unique driving position and save it for your next journey, no matter who uses the car in between.
Not that you’ll want to be out of the driver’s seat for long. The interior is a wonderful place to be, enveloped in body-hugging leather seats that translate every twist and turn of the road ahead whilst working with the car’s adaptive suspension to soak up every bump along the way.
If choice is a luxury, then the car’s opulence is in the variety of ways you can use it. Take the radio; you can change channel conventionally with glossy black buttons, via voice control, touch-screen interface, or even by simply pointing a finger at the radio thanks to BMW’s ingenious gesture control function. Even the way you drive the car can be tailor made to you. You can let the car do its own thing, letting the eight-speed automatic change up and down on its own, or you can take control using the gear lever or the paddle-shifters mounted on the steering wheel.
You don’t even need to be inside the car to take advantage of the technology on offer. Using the optional ‘display key’, you can adjust the car’s interior temperature before you even climb aboard, meaning it’ll be warm enough during the winter, and cool enough during the summer (if and when it arrives).
There’s also some good old fashioned sensibility thrown into the mix, too. As well as an electronic tailgate that opens and closes at the touch of a button, you can also choose to open the glass hatch portion of the boot to quickly pop any smaller items inside.
You can’t go wrong with the range of engines on offer either. Like the Saloon, the diesel engines are the most economical, with the two-litre 520d being the most fuel efficient in the Touring range, delivering 65mpg as well as being able to haul itself from 0-60mph in under eight seconds. Those looking for a little more power under their right foot might consider the 530d I was driving today. Twinned with the M Sport performance package and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, you’re instantly confident in the car’s ability to go and stop whatever the weather decides to throw your way.
BMW are pitching the new Tourer as their contender to dominate the fiercely competitive luxury lifestyle sector, and it’s plain to see why. Here’s a car that’s happy to do the donkey work required of a solid family car, ferrying your nearest and dearest along swiftly and safely. It’s a car that works just as well for business as it does for pleasure, as a jack of all trades and a master of just about everything. In fact, its only limiting factor is the human sat behind the steering wheel.
Credit: Live Magazines