If you want the classic BMW six-pot experience, with the bills to match, you’ve got those early 3.0-litre cars we mentioned plus another, the 535i. Beyond these, there’s the 550i, with its 4.4-litre V8, and finally the mighty M5. Nearly forgot: there’s also the 535i ActiveHybrid, but then with economy in the mid-20s, so did new car buyers.
On the trims front, BMW kept things simple. There are just three: SE, Luxury and M Sport. SE has most bases covered, with dual-zone climate control, a 6.5in touchscreen iDrive system with sat-nav and digital radio, front and rear parking sensors, and automatic headlights and wipers. SE is our choice but, if you want more comfort and technology, go for Luxury, and if you want M5-lite looks without that car’s bills, choose M Sport.
The reliability survey of our sibling title What Car? places this generation of 5 Series a little way below the same-gen Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6 but above the Jaguar XF. Serious faults concern the exhaust system and engines, with a quarter of cars affected unable to be driven.
Top spec pick
M Sport: M Sport gives you a touch of the M5, thanks to its bodykit, M Sport alloy wheels, sports suspension and dark chrome exhaust tailpipes, plus powered front sports seats inside.
Need to know
Look out for cars with optional Variable Damper Control. It takes the model’s handling and ride comfort to a new level. Small surface imperfections are better dealt with and the body rolls less. If you can’t find a car with it, at least avoid wheels larger than 18in.
In 2013, all 5 Series diesels became Euro 6-compliant, a standard that was not made compulsory until September 2015. Depending on the model, they have either a NOx storage catalyst or an SCR catalytic converter with urea injection.