The trick is to avoid the temptation of speccing wheelarch-filling rims, and stick to 17in or at most 18in wheels. Combine the thicker sidewalls these bring with the optional £985 adaptive dampers, and you suddenly have a car that all but floats down the road when left in Comfort mode.
Where the 5 Series really impresses is in its ability to combine this fantastically comfortable ride with good body control. Drive a Mercedes-Benz E-Class and you’ll notice plenty of wallow and roll instead of the upright stance and tight damping of the BMW.
That’s not to say it’s perfect; a Jaguar XF responds even more keenly, and filters far more feel up from the front tyres. In comparison, the 5 Series has slower and less feelsome steering, although it does make for more relaxed progress when you’re not going for it, and it's precise enough to allow you to place the nose of the car very accurately. BMW being BMW has also delivered 50/50 weight distribution, leading to well-balanced handling.
As for the engine, it may not be the newest unit out there, but it’s certainly effective. Performance is strong enough for full-throttle to rarely be required and BMW’s mastery of the eight-speed ZF auto 'box continues. Shifts are smooth when they should be and swift when you start playing with the manual mode.
Refinement is impressive, too; it isn’t quite as hushed and vibration-free as the equivalent Audi A6, but it manages to be quieter than the E-Class and XF during normal use. Yes, it gets a bit coarser when you’re pushing on, but what four-cylinder diesel engine doesn’t?
Inside, things don’t look too different at first glance. The layout is familiar enough, but there have been plenty of detail changes including the raising of the infotainment screen, addition of a fully digital instrument display and a wholesale lift in material quality.
It’s that good that it’s time for a cliché alert: it really does feel like a miniature 7 Series. You’ll be looking a very long time before you see anything approaching a hard surface, the switchgear feels delightfully precise and all the key touch points feel top-notch. This is how executive interiors should be done.
It’s a shame then, that rear seat space isn’t quite as generous as in some rivals. It’s not that it’s pokey, but an E-Class or Volvo S90 would have a good lot more leg room. If you’re likely to carry particularly tall rear passengers, it’s something that's worth considering.