If variety is the spice of life, then the interior of the modern executive car is a bowl of plain white rice.

Don’t get me wrong, perceived quality and infotainment technology have never been better, with the new BMW 5 Series moving things on again in both areas. However, as appealing as that is, the impact is slightly undermined by how familiar it all feels; basically, it's the interior from the 7 Series (pictured below), but with the centre console angled more sharply towards the driver.

Everything you touch feels expensive and the latest version of BMW’s iDrive control system is hard to fault. The only real reason to choose a 7 Series over a 5 Series now is because you want the prestige that comes from having the higher number. Plus, the similarities mean neither car feels quite as special as they otherwise might have done.

The same complaint could just as easily be levelled at other prestige brands, of course. This is obviously a conservative sector of the car market, where body-coloured interior panels or garish trim wouldn’t go down well. Still, surely there’s room for the designers to be let off the leash just a little bit?

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