BMW 5 Series (2010-2017) Review logo

BMW 5 Series (2010-2017) Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2010
      Body type
      Premium
      Fuel type
      Petrol, Diesel
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Famous five’s a star car”

Best bits

  • Superb car to drive
  • Efficient, powerful diesel engines
  • Classy appearance and luxurious interior

Not so great

  • Styling a little anonymous
  • Diesel dominates the used car listings
  • Desirable M Sport versions cost more

Read by

BMW 5 Series Exterior

Overall verdict

BMW 5 Series Interior

On the inside

BMW 5 Series Driving Front

Driving

BMW 5 Series Driving Back

How much does it cost to run

BMW 5 Series Headlight

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The 5 Series is one of the core models within the BMW range, a brand-defining executive saloon that has delivered premium-grade motoring to fortunate owners since the early 1970s. BMW built its reputation on cars such as this, and it’s an integral part of its range that everyone in the company holds in the very highest regard. If there’s a car they all know they need to get right, it’s the 5 Series."

BMW 5 Series Exterior

Compared with its angular predecessor, the 2010 BMW 5 Series was a much more subtle and rounded affair. BMW’s customer base clearly told it to tone things down a little, which they then underlined by choosing the sober silver, grey and black colours so many 5 Series are painted in. The advantage of this approach today? Even a decade-old 5 Series still looks reasonably contemporary and fresh, and much less divisive than the previous version.


Inside, occupants are treated to an upper-class cabin closely modelled on the range-topping 7 Series. It’s more welcoming than older models, with an open-plan feeling and sense of comfortable warmth, compared to the stark and design-led setup of the older car. Everything centres around BMW’s iDrive infotainment system, which is neatly integrated into a widescreen monitor high up on the dashboard.


The 5 Series is a near-faultless car to sit in, with perfectly-placed controls, extremely comfortable seats and a commanding feeling from behind the wheel. You feel that you’re driving something a bit special. It’s more spacious than older 5 Series models, too – BMW doesn’t quite offer the space its rivals from Audi and Mercedes-Benz do, but there’s still a decent amount of room for passengers in the rear. And that’s certainly not something you can say about the British alternative, the Jaguar XF.


The engine range is focused on diesels, particularly the 520d. This may be ‘just’ a 2.0-litre four-cylinder, but it’s a very strong engine with a great blend of performance and fuel economy – particularly the EfficientDynamics version. It’s nice and refined, too, particularly when cruising on the motorway, which is where most 5 Series spend the early years of their lives. With the impressive eight-speed automatic gearbox as well, you won’t feel short-changed.


More powerful engines are a tempting step up. The 525d is a decent half-way house, using a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel, but the one you really want is the 530d. This has a muscular 245PS and tireless response to the accelerator pedal, even at higher speeds. It’s not loud, but the noise it does make is very appealing. Petrol engines are also out there to buy, but they’re much rarer and pricier to run.


The model range is nice and straightforward: SE and M Sport. All are very well equipped, coming with luxuries such as heated leather seats, climate control and alloy wheels. But M Sport is by far the more visually appealing trim, with bigger wheels, M body styling, M Sports suspension and bespoke interior trim that includes a beautiful M leather steering wheel. M Sport cars carry the price premium to match this extra appeal, mind, so it is SE versions bargain-hunters should hunt for.


The 5 Series was facelifted in 2013, with new engines and now-standard sat nav. It’s a discreet update, with only the clear-lens xenon headlights giving the game away. However, the extra standard features mean these later cars are worth going for if you can. Even if your budget is smaller, though, this generation of 5 Series is still worth checking out. It’s easy to see why it’s stuck around for so long, because it’s a car still at the top of its game.  


If you're looking for the newer version, you need our BMW 5 Series (2017-) review.


Is the BMW 5 Series right for you?

Although more and more people are hankering after SUVs these days, the BMW 5 Series still has plenty going for it, even in four-door saloon guise. For starters, it’s very comfortable for passengers. Compared to an alternative family hatchback, the kids will feel like they’ve been upgraded to business class – and driving it will feel like you’ve stepped up in the world, too.


Saying that, an Audi A6 offers more legroom in the rear, so if you regularly carry adults, it might not be the most complete all-rounder. And although it drives extremely well, committed purists may find the steering doesn’t have quite the degree of feedback you normally get in a BMW. If you need more space, you need look no further than the BMW 5 Series Touring.


What’s the best BMW 5 Series model/engine to choose?

The most popular and best-selling 5 Series variant is the 520d, and it’s easy to see why. This is a surprisingly strong engine that has ample pulling power, yet also returns extremely impressive fuel economy (the 520d EfficientDynamics and later 190PS 520d are particularly strong here). It’s a genuine all-rounder that shows what a well-crafted machine the 5 Series is.


By all means step up to a 530d if you can – it delivers more of the same, with an even nicer engine note – but the 520d won’t leave you feeling short-changed.


Of the two trim grades, we can’t resist the more stylish M Sport. SE is well-equipped, but M Sport has the looks to go with it. Sporty trim details inside make it even more purposeful to sit in, too.


What other cars are similar to the BMW 5 Series?

The two most obvious rivals for the BMW 5 Series are the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. They too are built around economical four-cylinder turbodiesel engines, offer a broad array of other engine choices and have a comprehensive executive-level standard spec.


For a British alternative, there’s the Jaguar XF, while the Lexus GS is a Japanese take. The Volvo S80 is a bit more forgettable, and you have to admire the ambition of Infiniti with its Q70 rival – even if the model ultimately flopped in the UK.


Learn more

BMW 5 Series Interior

On the inside

BMW 5 Series Driving Front

Driving

BMW 5 Series Driving Back

How much does it cost to run

BMW 5 Series Headlight

Prices, versions and specification