What is it?
New 2010 BMW 5-Series with a fast and frugal six-cylinder diesel. 0-62mph is dispatched in just 6.3sec and yet it will do 45.6mpg on the combined cycle. It costs £37,100.
This car has the new optional eight-speed automatic gearbox (priced at £1495 without paddles, £1605 with). This auto ‘box combined with BMW’s Efficient Dynamics package achieves a phenomenal CO2 rating of 160g/km.
What’s it like to drive?
The engine is as fantastic as you would expect. BMW has long produced brilliant diesel powerplants (a 330d was the first diesel ever to make it into an eCoty contest) and it pulls as smoothly and cleanly as ever.
The chassis is less impressive, however. This particular car has the basic 5 Series set up with standard passive dampers and unfortunately it feels like the compromise that it is. Grip is good and you can get a decently relaxed flow going down a smooth road, but over bumps there is a thumpiness and wallow that certainly doesn’t smack of ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’. The speed-sensitive steering doesn’t have any feel either, which exacerbates the feeling of piloting a very big car (which it is) with slightly hard-to-place extremities. As Ollie said ‘it feels and behaves more like a 7-Series’.
It would seem that you need to spec the optional £965 adaptive dampers, and possibly add an extra £1255 for the adaptive anti-roll bars too, to make the 5-Series drive as you would wish.
How does it compare?
At £37,100 for a completey un-optioned 530d SE the BMW is sitting squarely in Jaguar XF territory. For £37,730 you could have a 271bhp XF Diesel S. You can see how it fared against the last generation 5 Series here. And unfortunately for BMW the Jaguar is the more desirable, quicker, more dynamic and more pleasurable car. The only place the BMW wins is on economy and CO2 output.
Anything else I need to know?
The map for the satellite navigation is very cool – a 3D topographical display appears as you zoom out.