Whatever you think of the way a BMW 5 Series looks and feels, there’s one thing that is virtually guaranteed to impress: the way it goes.
The best-selling 520d is a pleasant motor to use. It can become gruff if pushed very hard, but in general it has plenty of punch for overtaking and never feels overwhelmed by the 1625kg kerb weight, settling into an easy gait for cruising around at motorway and urban speeds. In 2013 BMW introduced a 518d to sit beneath it in the range, but we'd recommend the 520d instead, which returns the same economy, almost every time.
You’ll have to work the gearbox a bit for fast progress – many will opt for the eight-speed automatic – but the manual has the typically tight BMW shift, so it’s no chore to use.
The 530d 3.0-litre diesel’s headline figure of 254bhp is impressive enough on its own, but when it’s coupled to nigh on 400lb ft of torque, flat-lining from only 1500rpm, one can realistically expect fireworks.
They arrive in the order of a claimed 0-62mph time of 5.8sec, which is in the same ballpark as Jaguar’s XF 3.0D S and the Mercedes-Benz E 350 CDI.
With two turbochargers, the 535d engine has been comprehensively re-engineered and produces 309bhp. The performance for a diesel saloon car is extraordinary; if anything, the claimed 0-62mph time of 5.3sec undersells the real-world, on-demand response. Perhaps of more relevance, though, is that this new 535d is significantly more refined than any previous big diesel.