As it has been the case for seven generations now, the BMW 5 Series Touring might just be the perfect car for you if you’re looking for a family hauler with a lot of space in the back, but aren’t necessarily interested in owning an SUV. It will sip less fuel and trump its higher-riding brothers in terms of handling any day of the week, so you’d be left wondering why the craze for SUVs? The Touring choices make a lot more sense no matter how you look at them. They will sip less fuel and they will trump their higher-riding brothers in terms of handling any day of the week, so why spend more for a car that would be more capable off road if you’re never going to use it for that purpose?
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There was also time when you couldn’t even buy many of the SUVs we find on the market today, including in BMW’s stable, leaving you with just the Touring, T-Modell or Avant choices for your family needs. Fast forward to 2017 and the choice in SUVs is bigger than ever, making the decision, at least for European customers, a bit more complicated.
To take a closer look at the latest touring offering by BMW, we jumped aboard the new G31 5 Series Touring, a model that unfortunately it’s not available to U.S. customers.
The range of engines is almost the same as those for the 5 Series sedan. Going from the entry-level 520d to the twin-turbo 2-liter diesel of the 525d and then all the way up to the 3-liter category with the 530d and 540d. With the exception of the 525d, all models can also be bought with xDrive all-wheel drive which adds more grip for those snowy days. The tester we recently sampled was fitted with BMW’s intelligent AWD solution as well as the 3.0-liter B57 engine in single-turbo guise – the 530d xDrive Touring, the one model we love the most in the range.
The 520d and 525d models come with the new age B47 diesel mills that are a bit more refined than their predecessors and have a good amount of power and torque. They will be more than capable of carrying you and your family together with all your luggage on longer trips, but as the 5 Series has grown and became more comfortable than ever as well, as more refined than all of its predecessors, the 4-pots that animate these cheaper alternatives don’t do it justice. Hence our preference for the 530d.
All new 5 Series Touring models come with air suspension for the rear axle which made it feel like I was riding in a 7 Series limousine. They truly are this close in terms of comfort! That, combined with the new interior that also underwent some rather drastic upgrades in terms of materials and fit and finish, makes you want to have a smooth experience going under the hood as well. That’s why only 6-cylinder engines would do this car justice and complete the package it is offering.
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…the new adaptive suspension and the integral active steering made it feel like it was not larger than a 3 Series Sedan.
And the B57 3-liter diesel engine is one of those mills that simply make you want to drive and never stop. We were blown away by the silky-smooth power and torque delivery it brings to the tip of your toe when we first sampled it on the new 7 Series more than a year ago, but revisiting it after all this time, we can only appreciate it more. It offers 265 PS and 620 Nm (457 lb-ft) of torque seamlessly and the 8-speed ZF gearbox is right there with you all the time, reading your mind whenever you want to change the pace or slow things down. It’s a combination that truly speaks to the tech advancements of diesels and why they represent the large majority of purchases in Europe, with or without the scandals around them.
In this configuration, with xDrive by its side, the 530d Touring tips the scale at 1,875 kg (4,133 lbs) and that may seem like a lot but you’d be hard pressed to guess how heavy it is just by driving it. That’s because the new adaptive suspension and the integral active steering made it feel like it was not larger than a 3 Series Sedan.
Brought forward for the first time on the new 7 Series, the new Integral Active Steering system, in conjunction with xDrive, helps you out when pushing the car hard but also when navigating the narrow streets of old Europe. And while a 530d Touring might not be your weapon of choice on the Nurburgring, you’ll definitely have to deal with its length and width whenever you leave home. Parking it wouldn’t nearly be as easy as it was for us during our time with it, without the active steering bits that helped place the family hauler within the narrow parking spots of various shopping malls.
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…you get access to 570 liters of space in the boot with the seats up, more than in the A6 Avant and the Volvo V90, but a bit less than in an E-Class T-Modell
Speaking of parking, the new 5 Series also comes with most of the technology found on the 7 Series these days and that includes the remote parking feature that lets you move the car into a tight spot by using the new Display Key. It’s a feature that may come in handy in the most unexpected of times, but we rarely got to use it for more than just showing off to our friends.
What we did end up using though was the split tailgate design, a feature that has been available on Touring models from Munich for decades, allowing you to stow away bags and luggage of all kinds by simply opening up the glass bit of the tailgate instead of opening the entire door. Since we’re here, we’ll also mention that you get access to 570 liters of space in the boot with the seats up, more than in the A6 Avant and the Volvo V90, but a bit less than in an E-Class T-Modell. Nevertheless, if you want even more room you can simply fold the rear seats by pressing a button and get access to 1,700 liters of storage space. Since the rear axle now has air suspension, the load weight has also gone up compared to its predecessor.
Inside the cabin, it is business as usual for the 5 Series Touring. The design is just what you’d expect from a BMW in 2017, mimicking that of the 7 Series quite a lot. The driver oriented console stays and at the bottom of the HVAC controls and next to the cup holders, the 5er offers a charging plate for phones with wireless charging capabilities, a feature we found extremely useful, not just for our phones but also for the Display Key.
The instrument cluster is now digital and sports better graphics and a couple of new designs in it compared to the rest of the range. At the same time, the iDrive system works flawlessly just like before, the new subcategories making it even easier to browse through the detailed submenus of the 5er.
But where the new Touring truly shines is in terms of comfort.
Cruising is silent as a whisper and road noise is extremely well blocked, BMW clearly doing its homework in this regard, trying to catch up to the E-Class and put an end to all that badmouthing that has been going around before the G31 was launched. The new model is refined and just as it should be considering its price tag and competition.
We should also mention that you get more room inside than in the E-Class or the A6 and the V90 from Volvo. That’s true both in terms of knee and headroom, both up front and in the back. Even so, the rear bench isn’t exactly suitable for three adults and they will not be sitting comfortably unless all of them are under 5’4” tall, or 1.65 m as Europeans call it. The driving position is also the best out of the competition, offering a great commanding view of the road ahead while also keeping you down low, close to the ground, to feel the way the car responds to your inputs better.
Rear visibility isn’t all that great though, the main reason for it being that the headrests of the rear three seats are quite obtrusive, blocking your view. Fortunately, there’s a remedy for it when parking, the BMW 360-degree surround view camera system that does wonders whenever you can’t appreciate the distance to your surroundings.
And if we established that the 5 Series Touring is a comfortable, luxurious model by any means and comparisons out there, what about the way it drives? Is it truly just as agile as the sedan with the added practicality of a larger boot? In short, it very much is.
If there’s a difference between the two it is too small to feel it in just a few days of driving, as this one reviewer couldn’t find it no matter how hard he struggled. The 530d xDrive Touring may not be the same kind of athlete as say a M550i xDrive but it delivers incredible performance every time you push the Sport mode button and decide to floor it.
Due to the character of the diesel engine under the hood, the gears are rather short as hitting the 5,500 RPM redline happens extremely fast, but then again you have all the torque in the world to use to crush the competition and that’s delivered from as low as 2,000 RPM which means you’ll be basking in it almost all the time.
From a standstill the 530d xDrive Touring will do 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.6 seconds, despite its size and diesel engine. That puts it within hitting range of the E46 M3, and that’s nothing to scoff at. The best part about it might very well be the Adaptive Driving mode which modifies the car’s behavior depending on how you’re driving it and the road ahead.
It uses a camera mounted in the back of the rearview mirror, looking ahead, analyzing the road and preparing the car’s suspension and other inputs to handle anything you throw at it with easy while keeping you in control at all times. All the while, the diesel engine under the hood makes sure you can get up to 1,000 km of range out of it which is impressive in itself and makes this the car to buy out of the entire range.
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…the fact that BMW made the 5 Series a miniature 7 Series works drastically in favor of the 5er and against the 7er.
Of course, the brilliant driving and every single good point we made in this review about the 5 Series Touring does come with a trade-off. You see, the tester we had to sample also came with a price tag and it wasn’t cheap. The total price of the car rose to 93,000 Euros. Considering this is a 5 Series after all, and that it started things off at 63,000 Euros, that’s 30,000 in optional features, optional features that surely made an impression on us as we sat behind the wheel.
However, as we said in the beginning, the fact that BMW made the 5 Series a miniature 7 Series works drastically in favor of the 5er and against the 7er. That’s because you can get a better handling car with the same level of technology as a 7 Series, at a fraction of the price. At the same time, the 5 Series does come with some drawbacks compared to its bigger brother. The biggest complaint we have is that unlike the flagship, the 5er does come with some plastic inside the cabin and in those places where you’re most likely to notice its lower quality, such as the steering wheel buttons or the HVAC controls.
Nevertheless, the fact that this is my biggest gripe with the new 5 Series Touring also says a lot about it and the brilliance the Germans managed to infuse in it. And if you think that the price tag we mentioned is too high, you can easily cut optional features such as Gesture Control, Remote Parking and the Display Key from the list and save yourself some money. Just make sure to get the adaptive suspension and drop xDrive and you’ll get a brisk, fun family car that will cater to your every need without breaking a sweat every day of the week.