SO, WHAT’S the best car on the road?
I’m talking real-world motoring, not expensive exotica.
You can think long on hard on this one but the BMW 5 Series often comes out on top, and with good reason.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class might be more alluring and the Audi A6 may feel even more refined but the 5 Series is arguably the best all-rounder.
The price (from £36,000), economy (65mph on a combined route in the test version), style, quality and exceptional roadhandling make this car the one to beat.
Now, of course, it comes down to personal choice. You may prefer the flair or the Jaguar XF or the relative rarity of an Infiniti Q70, but in terms of being an all-rounder the 5 Series is, for me, a clear winner.
In fact, it’s biggest rival is the 3 Series - cheaper, similar style and arguably more fun to drive.
Now £40,000 might not sound like a cheap car but at this level it’s all comparative and you get a lot of car for the money, plus a lot of image. It’s also arguably two cars in one - a steady-away saloon and a hot-hatch with brisk if not blistering performance.
But the running costs make this car a sensible choice, too, with emissions of 114g/km making road tax affordable and it returns more than 70mpg on a run, which is incredible for such a big car.
It is the seventh generation 5 Series and is lighter and more agile than the previous version. It is also incredibly well-equipped and is much more comfortable and fin to drive than the predecessor.
Faults? Well, it does look too much like the 3 Series and it takes a trained to spot them apart quickly.
Unlike some of its rivals, which have lots of expensive extras, the 5 Series is pretty well equipped as standard. All 5 Series - in fact, all BMWs - now come with satellite navigation. But that’s just the start. This model adds stability control, alloy wheels, anti-theft systems, cruise control, leather upholstery, CD system, climate control and air conditioning.
The 5 Series has been around since 1972 and has sold almost eight million models.
The latest version claims to be the most refined and is significantly lighter, safer, and more fuel efficient. The new generation family of TwinPower Turbo engines provide impressive performance gains, but also show major advances in reducing fuel consumption and emissions.
An extensive suite of driver assistance technologies including BMW Lane Keeping Assistant and Lane Change Assistant mean that not only does the car reduce the driver’s workload like never before, it also takes a notable step towards fully autonomous driving.
Other technologies include, Remote Control Parking – as seen first on the new BMW 7 Series – and the optional Parking Assistant and Parking Assistant Plus packages, which enable automated parking with the greatest of ease in both parallel parking spaces and perpendicular or angled spaces. Surround View and Remote 3D View offer peace of mind to anyone who frequently finds themselves manoeuvring in awkward traffic situations and the optional Display Key offers a host of other functions with Remote operation of the auxiliary ventilation being just one example.
As standard on the BMW 5 Series, the latest generation of the Professional Navigation system boasts a fast start-up, even faster route calculation and more realistic 3D graphics in cities. BMW is now the first carmaker to offer Microsoft Office 365 users a secure server connection for exchanging and editing emails, calendar entries and contact details thanks to the car’s built-in Microsoft Exchange function.
The best car in the world? It’s difficult to think of anything better.
BMW 520d M Sport automatic
THE CAR FACTS
Price: £39,185. 5 Series begins at £36,025
Engine: A 1,995cc four cylinder diesel engine
Transmission: Manual with eight-speed automatic mode
Top speed: 146mph
0-62mph: 7.5 seconds
Insurance: Group 31
Economy: town 57.6mpg; country 70.6mpg; combined 65.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 114g/km
Warranty: Three years’ unlimited mileage
It is a fantastic all-rounder. Elegant, sporty, spacious, well-equipped and reasonably priced when compared to executive rivals.