There’s very little not to like.
The shape of the ‘F10’ generation 5 Series, with its short overhangs, heavily contoured bonnet and strong side creases, has caused a lot less controversy than that of its angular pre-2010 predecessor. Apparently, it’s styled to match the weight distribution, the bonnet, front wings and doors being fashioned from aluminium to help maintain the 50:50 weight distribution over the axles.
BMW rarely makes radical mid-life changes to its mainstream models – and it hasn’t done so here. All models now get either xenon headlights or the extra cost Adaptive LED lamps featured here. There are additional contour lines around the trademark BMW kidney grille and a restricted lower air intake – oh and indicator repeaters now built into the door mirrors. Moving further back, the revised tail lights have slender, elegant LED strips and there’s an additional crease in the rear apron that’s supposed to emphasise the car’s width and sporting stance.
One of the major changes made to this sixth generation 5 Series when it was originally launched was the increase in size over its predecessor. This was brought about by an 80mm increase in its wheelbase and the installation of a platform originally developed for much bigger models like the large 7 Series luxury saloon and the huge 5-door 5 Series Gran Turismo.
If your only experience of 5 Series motoring dates back to the old pre-2010 E60 model, then you’ll find that this car is far more spacious with significantly more leg and shoulder-room. Indeed, were it not for this prominent central transmission tunnel, you’d probably have reasonably comfortable long distance room for three adults.
At the wheel, the changes made to this revised model are even more subtle than those made outside. There are chromed strips bordering the central Control Display and if, as here, you specify the optional Professional Media Package infotainment system, you get a larger rotary iDrive controller with a touchpad that lets you ‘write’ addresses with your finger. That’s about it – but then few changes were needed. The sweeping dash still looks modern and the sensible layout means that you’ll quickly feel at home. Even the iDrive infotainment system, once hopelessly clunky and complex to use, is now clever and intuitive.
As is the big, clear typically BMW instrument display that on this M Sport model you view through a lovely grippy three-spoke leather-trimmed wheel. Next to the shard-like gearlever, you’ll find the buttons to operate the Drive Performance Control system which enables you to adapt the behaviour of the car to the mood you’re in and the road you’re on. As you flick between the various modes, the digital display on the large screen that dominates the top centre part of the dash graphically changes to suit. It’s all very slick.
And luggage space? Well, you can get to it a little more easily these days thanks to a ‘Comfort Access’ option which, if the key is in your pocket, enables you to open the bootlid by merely waving your foot beneath the bumper. A great boon if you’re approaching the car laden down with bags or boxes.
In standard guise, this is a hugely accomplished car, if one requiring familiarity and plenty of mileage over varying roads before its true qualities really begin to shine through. As before, it’s quiet and roomy and now it’s smarter, cleaner and even better on the balance sheet. A benchmark business BMW then. Just as a 5 Series has always been.