The biggest question, though, is whether you actually need the extra performance, given that the 530d is now such a competent and potent motor. For those deciding that the half-a-second gain in the 0-62mph time is worth the extra £3425, the consolation is that the 535d matches the 530d’s claimed economy figures and produces just 2g/km more CO2.
And so to the M Sport specification, which is available throughout the range at a cost of £3225 over SE trim. You can come to your own conclusions about the visual changes, which consist of new valances, sills, wheels and a bootlid spoiler on the outside and an M Sport steering wheel, sport seats, anthracite roof lining and aluminium trim inside.
As standard, M Sport also brings recalibrations to the suspension (springs, dampers and ride height). However, this is far from the end of the story, because it is possible to opt for the M Sport look but retain the SE suspension settings. And if (as here) you specify the £2220 optional Adaptive Drive pack (active dampers and anti-roll bars), the situation gets even more complicated. Because with Adaptive Drive, the suspension and ride height revert to SE specification, meaning this M Sport 535d drives no differently from a similarly optioned SE model.
So is it an option worth ticking? Sadly, that's not a question we can fully answer just yet, as we've not tried a passively damped M Sport 5-series. What we can say is that in SE trim, Adaptive Drive does improve the 5-series' composure and ride quality, and given that this is effectively what we've got here, the 535d M Sport is an extremely pleasant car to drive, if no more sporting than an SE, even if its styling might suggest it is.
Should I buy one?
With BMW offering such a broad spectrum of optional technology, selecting the optimal 5-series specification was already difficult, which the arrival of M Sport has now only made more complex. What's clear, though, is that a 535d M Sport with all the toys is an excellent executive all-rounder, if an expensive one. But it also poses yet more questions – mainly about the passive M Sport set-up. Watch this space.
BMW 535d M Sport
Price: £45,320; 0-62mph: 5.7sec; Top speed: 155mph (limited); Economy: 46.3mpg (combined); CO2: 162g/km; Kerb weight: 1790kg; Engine: 6 cyls in line, 2993cc, twin-turbodiesel; Power: 295bhp at 4400rpm; Torque: 442lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox: 8-spd automatic