First Drive: BMW 520d Touring

The latest generation of BMW's premium family estate car is here, adding a host of new technology and enhanced looks over the previous model.

AOL cars takes a closer look.

What is it?

The 5 Series Touring is an almost secret success for BMW. The basic idea has remained mostly unchanged - take all the refinement and luxury that you find in the 5 Series saloon, increase its spaciousness and all-round flexibility. It's a car that has sold in its masses throughout Europe, and this latest model features the likes of increased levels of autonomous assistance as well as a host of in-car features, making it the most technologically advanced yet.

First Drive: BMW 520d Touring
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First Drive: BMW 520d Touring

What's under the bonnet?

Our test car was a 520d model, which has a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine under the bonnet. This variant is likely to be the best-selling, with strong economy figures alongside reasonably brisk performance.

It can return an estimated 62.7mpg and emits114g/km, making it the perfect choice for those wanting to spend less time at the diesel pump. It also appeals to fleet buyers who want lower business tax brackets. And because the base 520d costs from just under £40,000, it doesn't qualify for additional premium car vehicle tax charges.

All 5 Series Tourings are rear-wheel-drive and come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. With 187bhp on tap, the 520d Touring can reach 60mph in 7.5 seconds, and carry on to a top speed of 139mph. For those wanting some extra grunt under their bonnet, a larger 3.0-litre diesel is available, as well as two high-powered petrol units.

What's the spec like?

The entry-level SE comes with a high level of standard equipment. Costing from £38,385, it benefits from 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, air conditioning and all-round parking sensors. All variants get BMW's latest iDrive infotainment system, accessed via a 10.25-inch colour touchscreen.

Of course, as with any car in the BMW range, there is a vast options list to choose from. Highlights from this include Driving Assistant Plus, which incorporates adaptive cruise control, lane change assistant and lane keeping assistant, as well as steering and lane control assistant. M Sport trim is also available, adding chunkier alloy wheels and a sporty body kit.

Any rivals?

Rivals for the BMW come in the form of Mercedes-Benz E-Class estate, which has very similar trim levels, the Audi A6 Estate with very sporty styling and an equally impressive amount of space inside, and the Volvo V90 with it's fantastic interior but surprisingly less boot space than the BMW.

What's it like to drive?

It is pretty difficult to fault the 5 Series Touring's drive. Despite its size – being well over 1,630mm wide and 2,975mm long – it never feels large on the road, and this is down to its steering, which is both precise yet predictable. It is slightly numb and lacks the excitement of other BMW models, but power delivery is excellent.

In SE trim the 5 Series rides very well. Potholes and bumps in the road are not felt at all in the cabin. This is thanks to all cars coming with rear air suspension as standard. Road noise doesn't intrude into the cabin either, and this, coupled with an excellent ride, makes for a relaxing driving experience and one that suits long motorway cruises.

AOL Cars Verdict

BMW believes it will sell roughly 5,000 5 Series Touring models. However taking into consideration the way it drives, its high level of build quality and relatively good value for money, it is likely to sell in much greater numbers than that.

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