What's all this about?
It's the absolutely mandatory estate version of the seventh-generation BMW 5 Series, as ever wearing BMW's wagon appellation of 'Touring'. Handsome-looking thing, isn't it?
But doesn't it look a lot like the preceding model from the rear?
Erm... yes. A bit. However, that's not necessarily a bad thing as Five Tourings are always lookers and the current car takes a lot of its classy inspiration from the technofest 7 Series higher up the range. Also, what you might not be able to spot from the pictures is that the Touring has grown in all exterior dimensions, which means more room for passengers (including, says BMW, the car having the capability to fit three child seats side-by-side across the rear bench) and a bigger boot: it now stands at 570 litres with the 40:20:40 split rear seats in place and 1,700 litres with the chairs stashed away. In terms of equipment, expect all of the technology found on the 5 Series Saloon to make an appearance here, the Touring's big talking points being a circa-100kg weight reduction over equivalent versions of its predecessor and the addition of self-levelling rear air suspension across all models.
Excellent - so talk about the launch variants
There are two petrol models and two diesels, two transmissions and two choices of drive, although on this last score the word 'choice' is not a universal truth; more on that shortly. Let's kick off with the four-pot motors. The diesel is the 520d, the petrol the 530i... nope, we've not committed a typo there, we do mean 5-3-0i. Both of these engines are 2.0 litres in capacity and turbocharged, the diesel churning out 190hp and 400Nm, the petrol developing 252hp and 350Nm. Stats for the six-speed manual 520d run 0-62mph in 8.0 seconds, a top speed of 143mph, fuel economy of 62.8mpg and 119g/km of CO2 emissions. The auto-only 530i, meanwhile, does 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds and the limited 155mph maximum, with 48.7mpg and 133g/km of CO2.
OK, so what are the bigger engines on offer?
Both of the six-cylinder models at launch, the 530d and the 540i, only come with the eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox, like the 530i; this transmission is an option on the 520d, where it improves acceleration (7.8 seconds 0-62mph) and the green figures (65.7mpg, 114g/km) at the expense of top speed (140mph).
Right, very nice, but let's get on to the 530d and 540i!
The 540i makes 340hp and 450Nm, allowing it to hit 62mph from rest in 5.1 seconds and return 38.7mpg with 167g/km CO2. The 530d produces 265hp and 620Nm, equating to a 5.8-second 0-62mph time, economy of 60.1mpg and 124g/km of CO2. Both these cars hit an electronic limiter at 155mph. Of course, these stats for the 530d are for the rear-wheel drive model...
Ah, so we have xDrive Tourings?
Naturally, but all-wheel drive is only available as an option on the 530d (for now; other models will join these four after launch in summer). The 520d and 530i are rear-drive alone, while the 540i comes exclusively with xDrive. Choose to have some torque going to the front axle of the 530d and its 0-62mph acceleration improves by two-tenths to 5.6 seconds, although consumption and emissions are both negatively affected, the 530d xDrive's data here reading 53.3mpg and 139g/km.
Hold on - you said at the top of the page this is the fifth Touring, but yet we've had seven Fives
Yes, that's because BMW didn't make an estate version of the 5 Series until the E34 MkIII arrived in 1988, the first Five Touring appearing in 1990. Both the preceding E12 and E28 5 Series cars were saloons only. Consider yourself partially learned in the arcane ways of BMW E numbers.
Matt Robinson - 31 Jan 2017