Let’s begin with its beating heart: the bi-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six diesel. Now, we know there is a potential war on diesel, but right now this EU6 compliant engine is legal tender in London, Luton, Leatherhead and any other UK city you care to mention. So, assessing it on that basis, its outputs of 261bhp and 457lb ft, coupled with an average 60.1mpg and 124g/km of CO2 look appealing against the quicker, but decidedly thirstier 540i petrol. It blows away the Mercedes E 350 d and Jaguar XF 3.0d V6 S, for that matter, too.
And this car isn’t slow. In fact, it’s so strong through nearly all of the rev-range that you get the feeling it would feel just a quick if pulling a glacier, at least until that onslaught of power and twist subsides at around 4000rpm. This, twinned with the superb eight-speed ZF auto ‘box that picks the right gear and slithers into it without you noticing, makes it an effortlessly easy car to cover ground in.
Choosing your G10 5 Series’ suspension set-up is a heck of a lot trickier than it was in 1972, when the original was launched. There’s standard passive, M Sport passive, Variable Adaptive Dampers (VDC), Adaptive Drive with active anti-roll bars and Integral Active Steering (IDC), which steers all four wheels.
Don’t panic, though, because having sampled pretty much all of them, there is an easy default: select VDC. Without it, the ride is needlessly fidgety on the motorway, but with it (and it uses the same settings regardless of whether you go for an SE or the M Sport) it transforms the ride brilliantly. Even with our M Sport’s 19in wheels and Scalextric-thin tyres, the 530d floats along like a lilo on a pool, with only the occasional thud if the tyres drop down a particularly large hole. Being so wide, they do create more road roar than the narrower tyres you get on an SE, but it’s still a sublime cruiser.
BMW dedicated itself to improving steering feel in the new 5. Certainly the weight build up is considerably better around the straight-ahead now, although its fair to say a Jaguar XF still has the more natural and incisive helm. Our car didn’t have IDC fitted, which is a worthy option if you appreciate a quick turn-in, but nevertheless the G30 feels so much more nimble than the F10 that you genuinely believe its maker's claims concerning reduced mass.
It’s only the thick windscreen pillars, which blot your vision through corners, that spoil the fun on a sweeping back road. Otherwise this car displays superb balance and body control, and even with the dampers tautened in Sport mode there’s enough compliance left to cope with troublesome peaks and troughs. Again, the XF is sharper still, but for offering a fine compromise between comfort and fun, the 5 Series is about the best there is.
In terms of interior quality, though, it knocks the XF in to touch. Effectively the 7 Series' architecture has been shoehorned into a smaller space, so it looks smart with choice materials, crystal-clear displays for the 10.25in main screen and digital instruments, as well as a sense of dependable solidity. Some might see it as another prosaic BMW design, and argue the E-Class's more fanciful style delivers a greater sense of luxury, but that's a personal thing. No arguing that it works well, mind; it packs plenty of of tech – gesture control, a night vision camera, on-board wifi, a concierge service and massaging seats are just some of the features available - but, after a little familiarisation, you'll find it perfectly easy to use.
Space in the front is fine for anyone tall. Rear seat leg room is roughly what you’d find in the equivalent E-Class, and it’s only really the Volvo S90 that offers substantially more. At 530 litres, the boot is on par with its rivals, although its various contours, to an extent, reduce its effectiveness when carrying large, square objects.