When more means less

Our Verdict

BMW 5 Series Touring

The BMW 5 Series Touring is a compelling premium estate, offering good space and efficiency, plus decent dynamics

24 August 2004

Buying a BMW 545i Touring is a big financial commitment. It requires spending £43,945 and in two years you might be waving goodbye to nearly £20,000 of that in depreciation.

Then there’s fuel economy which can dip into the mid-teens. And you’ll pay £10k more than for the excellent 3.0-litre turbodiesel version. What, then, do you get for your extra cash?

Plenty of brawn for a start, served up by one of the best powertrains in the business, assuming the £1350 six-speed auto is installed. The 333bhp V8 is vocal and extremely urgent when you want it to be, creamily flexible when you don’t and the gearbox is never in the wrong ratio.

Sadly, the chassis can’t quite live up to this firepower. Not because it lacks composure and agility, but because of the ride. It’s a sad fact that in motoring’s new world order no executive car rides as well as a basic VW Golf 1.6 and this 545i, fitted with optional 18-inch alloys and run-flat tyres, is no different. It crashes and judders over seemingly innocuous road scars and so becomes downright uncomfortable on almost every road.

It’s a shame, because the Touring is a good estate with its squared-off loading bay; it’s also an easy job to flip up the split-fold rear seats to increase the capacity. Other neat touches include under-floor stowage, lashing hooks and the traditional BMW Touring rear window which lifts independently of the tailgate.

All that applies to cheaper cars in the range, however, so maybe the fact that the forthcoming M5 won’t be available as a wagon really gives the 545i its place in the sun.

The 5-series Touring isn’t going to get a lot more exclusive than this, but realistically that’s the only reason to choose one over a diesel – especially with the potentially brilliant 535d Touring looming on the horizon.

Chas Hallett

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