What are you driving?
An estate car: remember those? They used to be the default choice for families before the marketplace became obsessed with crossovers and SUVs, be they compact, small or full-sized. There's no ambiguity here: this is a big-booted version of the new 'G30' BMW 5 Series, an executive saloon of note. The Touring (estate in BMW speak) allows up to 1,700 litres of luggage for the more practically-minded executive, or, more likely than not, something easier for a MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra) to transport his expensive bikes in to head away for a little cycling 'sportive' at the weekend.
We test drive it here in 530d M Sport form (the biggest selling 520d Touring is reviewed here), which adds some performance and prestige, as well as a few Euros to the list price...
Name its best bits
It's a handsome thing the new BMW 5 Series, and we're even bigger fans of it as a Touring model. We love the 520d, which over-delivers given its relatively modest 190hp four-cylinder engine, so the 530d should build on that significantly. It does and yet it doesn't: there's no denying it's quicker, the numbers say so, but for all the extra punch it delivers, it's not so noticeable that you'll be craving the 530d over the 520d.
Nonetheless, the boot is big, if not as vast as a Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate's, but then nothing is, so we'll ignore that, as the 5 Touring's the better drive. Refinement is high, performance is never in question and economy good, too, so this is the consummate all-rounder if you need your executive machine with a bit more family practicality. It's all beautifully built, and the rear tailgate with its opening glass hatch is handy. BMW's weight saving focus has seen 4kg taken out of the rear hatch alone, incidentally.
That diet has seen the 5 Touring come in at around 100kg less than its predecessor despite its increased dimensions, which aids agility and economy. It remains a 5 Series at heart, that's to say it's the best in the class to drive, the suspension offering fine control and a supple ride. The steering is good too, though muted by the girth of the wheel itself, and the eight-speed automatic so slick it's all but imperceptible in operation. All like the 520d really, only a bit quicker - and if we're honest, a bit noisier at low revs.
Anything that bugs you?
A fair bit, truthfully. The interior might be spacious, but the various means of operating it all is a bit of a mess. There's a mix of touch sensitive buttons, regular buttons, iDrive, and, if optioned, gesture control, which allows you to turn up the volume of the radio by twirling your hand around like a mad conductor. It's all a bit fussy, and requires a fair bit of learning and familiarisation.
That's true of all the driver assist systems, as well, which promise labour saving and near autonomy with a nod to safety, but they're little more than distraction. Most of it's optional, so save yourself the money, as this is the car in the class you'll most want to drive anyway. We're not singling out the 5 here, the same is true of all its rivals: in the rush to autonomy nobody seems to be asking "just because we can, do we actually need to?"
And why have you given it this rating?
Look at the 520d review and you'll see it's a half star more, despite offering less performance. See, we're not all obsessed by POWER. The 530d is quicker, that's never in doubt, but really you'd be just as well served in everyday driving in the 520d, save money at the pumps and when buying. The smaller four-cylinder engine is a touch more refined, too.
I want to know more
If you'd like to know anything specific about the BMW 530d M Sport Touring, send us a message through the Ask Us Anything page and we'll give you all the information you need.