Review: BMW 5 Series (2017)


Superb refinement and quality. Impressive handling. Decent equipment levels. Automatic as standard.

Not cheap, and extras can easily add £16,000 to the price. Not quite as plush as a Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

BMW 5 Series (2017): At A Glance

The 5 Series is a superb executive saloon, with top notch refinement and quality throughout. Like its predecessor, BMW's trademark driving enjoyment shines through on a challenging road, although some might feel that the interior feels a little flat against the equally excellent Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

However, if your heart’s set on the BMW, you’re unlikely to be disappointed. It has a wonderfully finished cabin and is packed with the latest convenience and safety tech. It also provides ample space for a family of four and is an outstanding long-distance motorway cruiser.  

That’s true even if you go for the basic 520i or 520d. Despite forming the entry point into the 5 Series range, both come with an automatic transmission as standard, plus they are powerful, torquey and quiet, providing plenty of overtaking punch. However, if your budget or company car allowance permit then the 530d is even better, yet still economical.

As good as the 5 Series is on a long run, it really stands out on a country road. Compared to rivals from Mercedes-Benz and Audi, the BMW is a touch much more poised and direct, giving a real sense of connection between the driver and the road. If you really enjoy driving, this is the best car in its class.

The front seats provide plenty of adjustment, while the back row provides plenty of space. The boot, too, is a decent size but since this is a saloon its practicality is limited if you want to carry bulky stuff. But if space is a big concern you can always go for the Touring version, which is about as practical as cars come.

As good as the 5 Series is, the E-Class does feel a little more polished, refined and luxurious from the driver’s seat. But the BMW isn’t far behind and it’s more involving and fun to drive. That means it’s very easy to recommend – but do make sure you try both to figure out which fits your needs best. 

What does a BMW 5 Series (2017) cost?

List Price from £37,600
Buy new from £31,756
Contract hire from £301.43 per month

BMW 5 Series (2017): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4936 mm
Width 2126 mm
Height 1479 mm
Wheelbase 2975 mm

Full specifications

From the driver’s seat the 5 Series is a familiar BMW. The centre stack is angled slightly toward the driver and the instrument binnacle has clear, easy-to-read dials, while the layout looks like an evolution of the earlier car rather than a radical, all-new change. That said, everything is logical and easy-to-use.

There are plenty of modern touches too, like a digital instrument binnacle framed by traditional dial surrounds. There are even high tech touches like gesture control for the infotainment system, though in practice this feels like a gimmick rather than a useful feature.

The infotainment system itself has an updated version of BMW’s iDrive system and it’s very easy to use, with a dial to scroll few various menus and settings. It’s very intuitive and means you can do most things without distracting yourself from the road ahead, whether you’re tweaking the zoom level on the map or changing radio station.

In the back row there’s enough space for adults to get comfortable, though the middle sear is better suited to children. The boot is a good size and shape, with 530 litres of capacity. There are some neat touches like storage areas behind the wheel arches too.

That said, the 5 Series does lag very slightly behind the E-Class and Jaguar XF for load capacity. It’s also important to remember that this is a saloon, so its load space is less than practical if you want to carry anything bulky. For that, you’ll need to go for the Touring model which is far more capacious.

All 5 Series come comprehensively equipped, with navigation and two-zone climate among the standard features. But if you want extra luxuries or sportier styling, you will need to spend more and the options list is huge, so budget a few thousand pounds on top of list price when speccing up.

Standard Equipment: 

SE comes with 17" light alloy V-spoke style 618 wheels (520d / 520d xDrive only), 18'' light alloy Multi-spoke style 619 wheels (530i / 540i xDrive / 530d / 530d xDrive only), 20GB Hard Disc Drive (HDD) memory, air conditioning, automatic with two-zone control, active Air Stream Kidney Grille, ambient lighting, automatic transmission with gearshift paddles (520d / 520d xDrive only), Bluetooth hands-free facility with USB audio interface and Voice Control, BMW ConnectedDrive Services, comprising: – BMW Emergency Call – BMW Online Services – BMW TeleServices – Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI), brake lights with LED technology, cruise control with braking function, DAB tuner, Drive Performance Control, exhaust tailpipes – single, round, left and right, Chrome, exhaust tailpipes – single, quadrilateral, left and right, Chrome (540i xDrive only), floor mats in velour, aluminium interior trim with fine cutting with Pearl Chrome highlight, LED Headlights, navigation system – BMW Professional Multimedia, Park Distance Control (PDC), front and rear, rain sensor with automatic headlight activation, rear-view mirror automatically dimming, seat heating front, sport automatic transmission with gearshift paddles (530i / 540i xDrive / 530d / 530d xDrive only), Sport leather steering wheel, three-spoke, Tyre pressure monitoring. 

M Sport gains 18" light alloy M Double-spoke style 662 M wheels (520d / 520d xDrive only), 19" M light alloy M Double-spoke style 664 M wheels (530i / 540i xDrive / 530d / 530d xDrive only), door sill finishers with illuminated M designation, exhaust tailpipes – single, quadrilateral, left and right in chrome, exterior trim in high-gloss Shadowline, anthracite headlining, instrument panel in Sensatec, interior trimin aluminium rhombicle with Pearl Chrome highlight, LED fog lights, M aerodynamic bodystyling, M designation on front side panels left and right, M specific floor mats, M specific pedals, M specific steering wheel, M Sport braking system (530i / 540i xDrive / 530d / 530d xDrive only)

Child seats that fit a BMW 5 Series (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.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the BMW 5 Series (2017) like to drive?

They might be the entry-level models, but the 520i and 520d feel anything but basic. Both provide plenty of punch for easy overtaking and motorway driving, yet they are quiet enough that you rarely ever notice them working. If you want a 5 Series and you’re worried about picking the base engines, don’t be.

Still, if you can go for a different engine then the 525d provides better performance – but the 265PS 530d is the real highlight. Officially it can achieve better than 50mpg, plus it’s silky smooth and has very impressive in-gear performance. It makes light work of slow traffic and is fabulous for a long distance motorway trip.

There are more petrol options too – a 530i and 540i. Again, these provide excellent performance, but they’re not as frugal or as punchy as the 530d. That said, for those who don’t tend to cover mammoth mileages, they’re great. The 540i also has the benefit of xDrive all-wheel drive as standard.

Like its rivals, the BMW 5 Series feels at home on the motorway, where its refinement and comfort really shine. It makes long trips feel short and cossets occupants – but it’s a rural road where the 5 Series shows its worth most. The steering, suspension and chassis work together very impressively to hide the car’s bulk.

The result is handling that puts plenty of smaller, lighter cars to shame. Accurate steering makes the car easy to place in bend, while the suspension means even mid-corner potholes and bumps struggle to upset your selected path through a series of turns. It really is very impressive, despite its size and weight.

All versions of the 5 Series come with an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard and it’s great. Most of the time you won’t notice it being there, since gearchanges and kickdowns are smooth, but if you want to take control - which is easy to do - it behaves just as you’d want it to in manual mode.

If you’re worried about rear-wheel drive in your cold, slippery neck of the woods then both the 520d and 530d are available with xDrive optionally, or it’s standard on the 540i. This all-wheel drive system is rear-biased, so you still get very good handing, but with added peace of mind when conditions take a turn for the worse. 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
518d Automatic 60–63 mpg 8.8 s 116–119 g/km
520d Automatic 63–69 mpg 7.5 s 108–114 g/km
520d EfficientDynamics Automatic 72 mpg 7.5 s 102 g/km
520d xDrive Automatic 59–63 mpg 7.6 s 119–124 g/km
520i Automatic 48–49 mpg 7.8 s 124–129 g/km
525d Automatic 56–58 mpg 6.6 s 116–121 g/km
530d Automatic 54–60 mpg 5.7 s 124 g/km
530d xDrive Automatic 50–53 mpg 5.4 s 138 g/km
530e - 6.2 s 46–49 g/km
530i Automatic 48–49 mpg 6.2 s 132 g/km
540i xDrive Automatic 36–39 mpg 4.8 s 164 g/km

Real MPG average for a BMW 5 Series (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.

Average performance


Real MPG

25–61 mpg

MPGs submitted


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 (2017)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Which car is best for icy conditions?

I live in the country and own a 2014 BMW 5 Series which is useless on icy days. Which car would serve me better for such conditions?
Winter tyres might help - they're beneficial when temperatures drop below seven degrees. Alternatively, consider a 5 Series with the xDrive all-wheel-drive system. You could also look at an Audi A6 Allroad or Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain if you want better snow tackling ability without getting an SUV.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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