For more than 40 years the BMW 5 Series has been the go-to executive saloon for millions of business-type mile-crunchers with an enthusiasm for driving.

The car’s blend of talents has always been highly commendable and rarely matched, offering supreme ride comfort, cutting-edge interiors and, whenever it takes your fancy, exciting and entertaining rear-wheel-drive dynamism.

For this latest 5 Series – the G30 generation – there is no dramatic leap away from familiarity. A record 2.1 million sales of the previous-generation model, along with feedback from its buyers, signaled to BMW that the best course of action to continue its executive saloon’s sales success was to gently tickle the formula rather than rethink it.

The result of that train of thought has delivered a new 5 Series that is in essence a mini version of the latest 7 Series.

Much of the styling and technology has been borrowed or adapted from the flagship limousine, and both models share the same modular platform.

Improvements over the outgoing 5 Series include reduced weight, revised suspension and a tonne of new tech, such as the latest iDrive system, gesture control and semi-autonomous driving features.

These upgrades, and being so closely related to the 7 Series, mean the new 5 Series could, in theory at least, represent the closest thing to limousine luxury you can buy in the executive saloon class.

The G30 5 Series has launched with a choice of two petrol engines – the 530i and 540i – and two diesels – 520d and 530d.

Soon to join the line-up is an entry-level 520i turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol and a 525d oil-burner to bridge the gap between the pair of launch diesels. The car is available in saloon and Touring estate bodystyles, and there’s a full-blooded M5 in development.

But the stoic 5 Series is facing a new threat. It’s no longer just a case of rivalling the quality within its own class (which has plenty of it to offer); now buyers are showing a trend of ditching traditional segments in favour of more fashionable SUVs and compact saloons.

The 5 Series, then, needs to lay down a case that it’s more enviable and appealing than ever.

Even with all these upgrades, is it compelling enough to remain in the pantheon of modern machines and keep buyers interested? Let’s find out.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Renault Captur Dynamique S Nav dCI 110
    First Drive
    26 July 2017
    To keep pace with rivals in this increasingly competitive category, Renault's popular compact crossover has had a mild refresh both inside and out
  • Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid
    First Drive
    25 July 2017
    New top-of-the-line Porsche hybrid, though fast and flexible, is simply too heavy to strike the same sweet sporting compromise as its siblings
  • Caterham Seven 420R Donington Edition
    First Drive
    25 July 2017
    Limited-edition road-legal Caterham track car is a superbly enthralling drive, with enough creature comforts to be used on the road as well. Even more addictive than most of its rangemates
  • McLaren 570S Spider
    First Drive
    25 July 2017
    McLaren has created its most attainable drop-top by removing the roof from the 570S coupé, but none of the car's talent has come away with it
  • 2017 Range Rover Velar
    First Drive
    23 July 2017
    The Range Rover Velar is the most road-biased car Land Rover has made. So does it still feel like a proper part of the family?