BMW doors still shut with a resounding ‘thunk’. Which is nice, because it signifies that I’m safely ensconced inside this comfortable and fastidiously built – if rather stark and modernist – cabin of a 525d. A glance in the rear-view mirror reveals significantly more depth before any glass, but otherwise this new Touring feels like any 5-series saloon.
Outside is different. Outside is a world of unavoidable styling-based caveats. Outside also means homework. No car has brought factory-fit options into focus like the new Five. Having Dynamic Drive or Active Steering fitted affects the driving experience to the extent that it’s virtually a different car with either of these options on board. Today it’s a 525d manual with ‘normal’ steering and no Dynamic Drive.
As for the styling, this is arguably the most visually appealing of all the Bangle-era creations and definitely the most cohesive. It’ll inescapably divide opinion, but there’s no denying its impact or aura of executive prestige and power on the road, especially in the metallic grey of our test car. Getting rid of the awkward lump on the boot for a graceful C-pillar treatment has done wonders for the looks.
Losing half a litre in capacity over the 530d hasn’t made this car a poor relation. In fact, just as BMW’s petrol 2.5 six is sweeter than the brawnier 3.0-litre version, so the smaller diesel unit also has the edge in refinement. It lacks the hushed serenity of Jaguar’s new S-type diesel, but the 525d’s dry, dark rasp is a satisfyingly sporting soundtrack.