First Drive: BMW 5 Series Touring
There are few moments where you’d feel short-changed by BMW’s executive estate, reckons Alex Grant.
It took BMW three 5 Series generations to add a Touring to the line-up, and this is a range where 75% of UK buyers still opt for the saloon. The all-round abilities of the estate, though perhaps overshadowed by the bigger-selling X5 SUV, attract around 5,000 buyers per year, and this tech-rich newcomer is out to spoil them.
This is a format BMW knows well. The new Touring is 36mm longer than its predecessor, growing the seats-up boot capacity by around half the volume of a carry-on suitcase. Handles inside the tailgate drop the rear bench and almost triple the available volume over a near-flat load floor, now with a space underneath for the load cover. A small but important detail for impromptu bulk-moving.
The old car’s best features are retained; a tailgate which either opens in one piece and lifts the load cover with it, as well as the unique rear window which opens separately for cramming the last items into a full boot. However, the E-Class offers a powered tailgate as standard equipment, where BMW offers it as an option.
Growing the capacity means re-engineering the entire rear end, and the new 5 Series includes self-levelling air suspension as standard equipment. Luckily they’re changes which haven’t scuppered its size-defying agility, though the larger wheels and 10mm ride height reduction on the M Sport version make a big, and positive, difference to the weight and feel of the steering. It’s the version to have.
The UK range spans three diesel and three petrol engines, each with an eight-speed paddle-shift automatic gearboxes, and the 520d is expected to be the biggest-selling version. This offers 62.7mpg and 114g/km in SE guise, compared to 68.8mpg and 108g/km for the saloon, but with 188bhp for easy progress on high or low-speed roads. It’s exceptionally quiet and well-damped, too, only rising to a dull thrum when it’s working hard.
There are also 229bhp 525d and 262bhp 530d diesel engines which, at 124g/km and 131g/km, could attract fleet interest on more lenient choice lists, the latter being the engine which suits the 5 Series best. Those needing xDrive four-wheel drive can add it to the 520d and 530d, albeit with a corresponding rise in consumption and CO2 emissions for both; to 57.6mpg 129g/km and 51.3mpg and 144g/km respectively.
However, there won’t be a 520d EfficientDynamics at launch, and no plans for a 530e plug-in hybrid. Fleets who don’t fancy committing to a diesel have the choice of the 520i and 530i which, at 132g/km and 139g/km aren’t quite as scary on running costs as a petrol executive car might once have been, and the 540i xDrive.
Most are offered in SE or the more popular M Sport trims, with a £2,000-£2,500 price walk over the saloon, and almost half of UK volume will be a single version; the 520d M Sport. LED headlights, two-zone air conditioning and satellite navigation are standard equipment, while a full suite of assistance and connectivity functions are available as options. All the best bits of the saloon, with a little more space on board.What We Think:
The E-Class offers more room, and seven seats, but, with a broad range to choose from, the Touring is something to think about next time you’re looking at an SUV.
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