Lighter and leaner the 5 Series may be, but it has lost none of its characteristic big saloon heft, neither proportionally nor in the way it drives.

The upgrade from the 3 Series remains palpable, with its king-sized superiority in scale underscored by a similarly palatial sense of quietness and comfort.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Gently nodding body control through the fierce gradient changes is a reminder of the M Sport’s appreciable road-bias

In the previous generation, the model’s rolling refinement was significantly affected by wheel size and chassis specification.

It matters here, too, with our test car’s lower M Sport suspension proving to be not quite as pillowy as the standard configuration.

That the difference here is less problematic signifies not only the gains made by improvements to component choice and a reduction in unsprung mass, but also in BMW’s dogged pursuit for the 5 Series of a dynamic compromise that is edging progressively closer to that of the cosseting 7 Series  – and a commensurate distance away from the incisiveness of the 3 Series.

Nevertheless, the compromise wrought out of the G30 is by and large a fabulous one, not least because it’ll likely suit most UK buyers – and the shabbily surfaced roads upon which they drive – right down to the ground.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

With the revised adaptive dampers in Comfort mode (their default setting), the 520d rides with an aplomb built primarily on a sophisticated sense of isolation. Deeper creases and crevices are not exactly soothed away by the M Sport specification’s sterner settings and larger wheels, yet each intrusion is generally made to seem remarkably distant by the bubble of muffled, long-wave consistency in which the saloon keeps its occupants encased at all speeds. Appropriately enough, this quality makes the 520d a terrific motorway tackler, far in excess of the comparative indulgence meted out by the 3 Series.

The G30’s most notable triumph, however, and one that is a facet of its lower kerb weight and wonderfully fleshy steering, is a persuasive capacity for transferring this long-striding, big-cruising attitude to less conducive stretches of road.

While the result is less invigorating than in the scrupulously nimble 320d, it is enough to feel the 520d’s chassis push satisfyingly back against the greater level of effort, in turn offering a persuasive reminder that claims made of its inherent balance, better rigidity and sharper response are not merely empty rhetoric.

The underlying ability hinted at on the road clearly manifests on the Hill Route. Unsurprisingly, switching the 520d’s sympathetic Comfort mode to Sport is a prerequisite. The latter mode’s more stringent body control is essential for carrying higher speeds through the multiple gradient changes.

Even in this setting on an M Sport model, the obliging road bias is apparent in the noticeable dip of a wing on entry.

The car knuckles down thereafter, by enough to lean confidently on the mechanical grip that is plentiful and rarely challenged at the back axle.

The 520d ultimately feels less rear-driven than it does benignly balanced, and the chassis’ benevolence is made fully exploitable by a much crisper front end and steering rack than appeared previously.

The steering, with a rich seam of credible density away from the straight ahead, confirms the calibre of the 5 Series’s easily accessible ability.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week