The BMW 5 Series has been one of our favourite full-size executive cars since its launch in 2010.
The mechanical changes are mild, so the 2013 BMW 5 Series drives much the same as the previous model.
We tried the 520d and 530d. The latter has a 254bhp six-cylinder diesel engine that’s as strong and flexible as ever. This version is now more attractive to company car drivers, though, thanks to its lower CO2 output of 134g/km (down from 149g/km).
This efficiency improvement is partly down to a new coasting function (fitted to all automatic versions), which can disconnect the gearbox from the drivetrain to prevent unwanted engine braking. Aerodynamics have also been improved.
The 181bhp, four-cylinder engine in the 520d is relatively smooth, too, and offers strong mid-range acceleration. The standard manual gearbox is best avoided (it’s rather notchy), but the optional eight-speed automatic gearbox is brilliant, shifting smoothly and intelligently.
BMW says it’s tweaked the 5 Series’ suspension to improve ride quality. However, the differences are negligible – at least on our test cars, which were all fitted with optional adaptive dampers.
In Sport mode, the 5 Series still handles sharply enough, while choosing Comfort softens the suspension just enough to improve high-speed comfort. You’ll notice the odd sharp thump over bigger bumps – even on the smallest wheels on the 520d – but the 5 Series is the more comfortable than rivals, such as the Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class.
It remains to be seen whether versions without adaptive suspension are any better than before. Previously, cars with standard suspension suffered from an unsettled ride and sloppier handling.
As ever, the 5 Series is a very refined exec. There’s very little road noise at speed and wind noise is well-suppressed, too.