For anyone sceptical about the future legitimacy of the executive class in a market increasingly dominated by large SUVs and upstart compact saloons, the BMW 5 Series offers a belligerent and often brilliant rationale for the old-fashioned benefits of space, style, convenience, efficiency and dynamism.

It effortlessly upstages its predecessor, which majored on class and practicality but fell short of the sophisticated driving experience that traditionally separates a four-door BMW from the chasing pack.

More advanced and refined 5 Series reasserts its class-leading status

The latest 520d, via a regiment of weight loss and mechanical remodelling, returns just enough of the verve to vindicate the fundamentally softer edge stipulated by countless miles of impending motorway duty.

That it still excels at free-flowing dependability is to be expected; that it rarely lets its steadfastness or refinement lapse into aloofness or indifference of its driver is downright commendable.

Add in the backdrop, an aptly business-class rendition of the showier BMW 7 Series, and BMW’s model of midway compromise starts to look very much like its maker’s current summit.

We are so impressed by the 5 Series, that it tops our top five ahead of the Jaguar XF, Mercedes E-Class, Volvo S90 and the Audi A6.

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