Review: BMW 5 Series (2010 – 2017)
The best executive saloon on the market in 2010. Refined and high quality interior. Great to drive with a forgiving ride. Remarkably efficient 520d. Five-star NCAP crash rating.
Steering doesn't have the feel or weight you'd expect from a BMW. N47 2.0 diesel engines could still have timing chain problems up to 2011.
BMW 5 Series (2010 – 2017): At A Glance
There's no shortage of high-quality executive saloons, but none can match the quality of the BMW 5 Series. It manages to blend limousine-like luxury with one of the highest quality interiors seen on any mainstream car, along with unmatched refinement and some of the most remarkably efficient engines available.
The design doesn't break too many boundaries but the elegant shape gives the BMW 5 Series a sophisticated appearance. This is carried over inside where the cabin, which is similar to the 7 Series and 5 Series Gran Turismo, has a classy design with some cutting edge features, giving it a truly luxury-car feel that you'd expect from a much more expensive car.
On the move it's supremely refined and makes an ideal long distance car, with quiet engines and a supple ride. But that doesn't mean this BMW 5 Series has gone soft. It's still rewarding to drive with good grip and precise steering.
Then there's the wide choice of engines which offer a great blend of performance and economy. The 520d is the star of the line-up though. It's great to drive with plenty low down torque, yet will average more than 60mpg - a mightily impressive figure for a car of this size.
Add in a high standard kit count including leather seats and Bluetooth as standard and it's easy to see why the BMW 5 Series is head and shoulders above everything else in this class. It's as close as you'll come to a faultless car.
What does a BMW 5 Series (2010 – 2017) cost?
BMW 5 Series (2010 – 2017): What's It Like Inside?
The interior of the 5 Series is similar to the 7 Series which instantly gives it a high-class and expensive feel. What first impresses is the quality of the materials uses inside and the tactile nature of it all - from the leather steering wheel to the gloss black finish on the central console. The main dash is free from lots of buttons so it has an unfussy look. Instead, the majority of the main functions such as the stereo, Bluetooth and sat nav (if specified) are all controlled through the main iDrive dial next to the gear lever. There's also an electric parking brake rather than conventional handbrake which adds to the high-tech feel.
All the key information is displayed on a seven-inch colour display and the menus are all fairly easy to get to grips with. There's a larger 10.2-inch screen available as an option which is great for the sat nav display as it gives such a wide view of the map.
One of our favourite features is the optional 'head-up' display. True, it's certainly not cheap at nearly £1000 but it is very useful as it projects your speed (as well as other useful info from the sat nav if you want) onto the windscreen - just above the conventional dials so it looks like it's floating. It's a constant reminder of your speed, which in a car as refined and serene as the 5 Series, is a very helpful aid.
The view out of the front is unhindered, but rear visibility isn't as good and it can be tricky to judge where the back of the car is. So it's useful that both front and rear parking sensors come as standard, an unusually generous feature on a car of this class. The driving position is excellent too thanks to masses of adjustment in both the seat and the steering wheel.
This feeling of spaciousness and luxury continues in the back. The 5-Series has a longer wheelbase than the previous generation model and this means plenty of rear legroom along with good head room. Even the centre seat is good - although the large central tunnel means there's not much room to put your feet.
On the move, the BMW 5 Series is superbly serene and near-silent at low speeds thanks to excellent noise insulation and refined engines. And at higher speeds it's still impressive with a real cosseting feel that insulates you from the outside world and instils a limousine-like feel. The standard leather seats are comfortable too and ideal for long journeys thanks to good lower back support.
Equipment from launch (March 2010):
SE gets Dakota leather upholstery, a six-speed manual gearbox, 17-inch alloy wheels, electric parking brake, a Thatcham 1 alarm, engine immobiliser, cruise control with brake function, dynamic brake lights, Dynamic Stability Control Plus (DSC+), front fog lights, front and rear parking sensors, rain sensitive wipers, automatic headlights, Isofix child seat attachments, part-electrically adjustable front seats, automatic air conditioning, electric windows front and back, multifunction leather steering wheel, start-stop button, auxiliary input, Bluetooth, CD stereo, seven-inch colour display, iDrive controller and an on-board computer. The 523i and 525i models add a USB audio interface while the 530d has metallic paint. The top 550i gets extras such as four-zone air conditioning, an eight-speed automatic gearbox and 18-inch alloys.
M Sport (from September 2010) adds M Sports suspension, M aerodynamics package and 18-inch M light alloys featuring a double spoke design. There are also specially developed sports seats, an M leather-clad steering wheel, an M gear lever knob, anthracite roof lining and M aluminium hexagon interior trim strips. Further options include 19-inch M light alloys as well as an M rear spoiler.
Child seats that fit a BMW 5 Series (2010 – 2017)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the BMW 5 Series (2010 – 2017) like to drive?
While BMWs have always been renowed for handling they have often been criticised for having an uncomfortable ride. But this 5 Series has no such issues. The ride quality is immensely good - in fact this model would be a viable alternative to the larger (and considerably more expensive) 7 Series - it's that good.
But that doesn't mean the 5 Series has gone soft. It feels every inch a BMW with an immensely agile nature that belies its size. There's incredible grip in bends and it always feels composed, even during sudden changes of direction at higher speeds. The steering is precise and responsive, but does lack some of the feel of other BMWs, like the smaller 3 Series, but this minor point doesn't detract from the overall driving experience.
The long wheelbase and short overhangs are not only beneficial for cabin space, they also mean the 5 Series corners well with very little body roll. There's an optional system called Drive Dynamic Control (or DDC) which lets you fine tune the ride and handling further with a choice of normal, comfort, sport and sport+ settings. The differences are really noticeable, especially between comfort and sport+, but the standard set-up of the 5 Series is so good, you won't feel you're missing out if you don't have it fitted.
There are no poor engines in the line-up and every one feels well suited to the 5 Series. The most common is the 520d which is also the entry-level model, but this doesn't mean it's the poor relation to the others. If anything, this 184PS engine is actually the perfect engine for the 5 Series with a great combination of strong pace and good economy.
It has plenty of torque and manages the 0-62mph sprint in 8.1 seconds plus there's masses of in-gear pace so it always feels quick when you ask it to accelerate. And the best part is economy of 56.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 132g/km - making it a great company car. These impressively green figures are aided by an engine stop/start system - at the time it was introduced a first on a car in this class.
Other diesels include the 3.0-litre 525d with 204PS and the excellent 530d which uses the same engine but as more power with 245PS. It's incredibly refined and quiet, even at higher speeds but despite having huge reserves of torque, it can still return 44.8mpg.
The petrols include the 528i which was originally a 3.0-litre engine but is now a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. However, the best petrol is the excellent 535i which is a unique 3.0-litre engine fitted with a twin-scroll turbocharger. With 306PS and a 0-62mph time of just 6.0 seconds it performs superbly when required, yet is gentle at low speeds.
The largest engine is the rather over the top 550i with 407PS. This 4.4-litre V8 sounds great and comes with a new eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard (it's available as an extra on all the other models) which gives lightning fast gearshifts. However, it's not cheap to run and the diesels make more sense.
In September the superb 535d model was added to the line-up and in terms of performance and economy - it really is the perfect blend. It's amazingly punchy, making overtaking safe and effortless, yet still refined and smooth. It will go from 0-62mph in just 5.7 seconds - faster than most petrol hot hatches - and yet can average 46.3mpg. You really do have to wonder how BMW does it.
|518d 143||58–63 mpg||9.7 s||119–129 g/km|
|518d 143 Automatic||58–63 mpg||9.6 s||119–129 g/km|
|518d 150||60–66 mpg||9.5 s||119 g/km|
|518d 150 Automatic||61–67 mpg||9.4 s||114 g/km|
|520d 184||60–63 mpg||8.1 s||119–124 g/km|
|520d 184 Automatic||60 mpg||7.9 s||124 g/km|
|520d 190||60–66 mpg||7.9 s||119 g/km|
|520d 190 Automatic||63–69 mpg||7.7 s||114 g/km|
|520d EfficientDynamics||63 mpg||8.2 s||119 g/km|
|520i 184||42–44 mpg||7.9 s||154 g/km|
|520i 184 Automatic||44–47 mpg||7.9 s||144 g/km|
|523i 204||37 mpg||7.9 s||177 g/km|
|525d 204||55 mpg||7.0 s||134 g/km|
|525d 204 Automatic||58 mpg||6.9 s||128 g/km|
|525d 218||53–58 mpg||7.0 s||134 g/km|
|525d 218 Automatic||57–60 mpg||6.9 s||128 g/km|
|528i 245 Automatic||44–46 mpg||6.2 s||147 g/km|
|528i 258||40–43 mpg||6.2 s||154–164 g/km|
|528i 258 Automatic||45 mpg||6.2 s||147 g/km|
|530d 245||48–50 mpg||6.1 s||149–155 g/km|
|530d 258 Automatic||51–55 mpg||5.8 s||139 g/km|
|530i 272||36–37 mpg||6.5 s||177–182 g/km|
|530i 272 Automatic||37–38 mpg||6.6 s||173–178 g/km|
|535d 299 Automatic||52 mpg||5.5 s||142 g/km|
|535d 313 Automatic||50–52 mpg||5.3 s||143 g/km|
|535i 306||35 mpg||5.8 s||188 g/km|
|535i 306 Automatic||37–38 mpg||5.7 s||174 g/km|
|550i 450||32–33 mpg||4.6 s||199 g/km|
Real MPG average for a BMW 5 Series (2010 – 2017)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What have we been asked about the BMW 5 Series (2010 – 2017)?
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If I change the battery in my BMW does it need to be reprogrammed?
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