$92,800 – $138,900
Good: Refined cabin; Build quality; Excellent dynamics and amazingly low fuel economy (520d).
Not so Good: Ride over poor surfaces; Smaller cargo space than competing E-Class; Expensive option pricing.
Design and Engineering
Good : Arriving Down Under in January 2011, sleek lines and a sloping roofline ensure the BMW 5 Series Wagon is not a box on wheels, in fact, some of the test team thinks it is more whistle-worthy than the sedan. In terms of design it is the opposite of BMW’s X5 SUV. The Touring sits much lower to the ground with a long bonnet, raked windscreen pillars and a curvy rear tailgate.
Based on a cut down version of the 7 series, at 2968mm it has the longest wheelbase in its class. To cut down on weight, the doors, front wings and Bonnet are made from aluminium, and as a result is lighter than the competing Mercedes Benz E-Class Estate.
The wagons share the sedan’s trick all-aluminium double-wishbone front suspension, but the Touring gains as standard the self-levelling rear air suspension to cope with the heftier loads.
Not so good : At over 80mm longer than the previous generation, the 5-Series wagon is now approaching 5 metres in length, 4907mm to be exact. Which is not necessarily a disadvantage in tight parking situations as front and rear parking sensors are fitted as standard.
Interior and Styling
Good : The stretched wheelbase and wider body has allowed more room in the 5 Series than any previous model. Interior design, materials and fit and finish are much improved.
Optional sports seats ensure superb comfort and good levels of support and the driving position displays the superiority expected of BMW. Angled slightly towards the driver, the centre console is just where we like it, and the iDrive control system is another improvement over the previous generation. It’s matched to a seven inch display screen, with the head up display system (showing speed and satellite navigation directions) projected onto the windscreen.
With the longer wheelbase, it’s no surprise the second row cabin space offers more leg and shoulder room.
Luggage capacity ranges from generous with the rear seats in use, to huge with the seats fully folded. The rear bench split folds in a convenient 40:20:40 ratio and a separate opening window in the tailgate is useful for loading smaller items.
Not so good : Unlike the BMW X5 or the competing E-Class wagon the 5-Series Touring is only available with five seats.
Rear luggage space also can’t match that of the competing Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate, as BMW have opted for a sleeker exterior design than the boxy rear styling of the Merc. Nevertheless at 590 litres or 1,670 litres with the rear seats down, you could never say cargo capacity is lacking.
Good : Two engines are on offer, a diesel four-cylinder (520d) and a turbo petrol six-cylinder (535i). The 520d produces 135kW of power and 380Nm of torque, the 535i produces 225kW and 400Nm.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel is identical to the power plant of the 520d sedan, producing its’ peak torque of 380Nm between 1750rpm and 2750rpm. Both grades come standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission that provides seamless gear changes. Yes, this is one brilliant transmission!
The 520d is very impressive. Remarkably quiet for a diesel, it’s super refined and responsive. World class. This is a car that is happy to cruise on the highway or accelerate hard out of corners. No matter how hard you drive it, the fuel consumption stays impressively low, especially for a vehicle of this length. The official combined figure is an outstanding 5.3L per 100kms.
We’re also fans of the 535i variant. Click here to read about this engine in further detail. BMW 5-Series Sedan Review | Car Verdict
Not so good : BMW Australia offers a V8 powered sedan (550i) however not in the Touring body style.
Ride and Handling
Good : The 5-Series Touring is an excellent driver’s car. The handling capabilities are very high; it might even be a touch more impressive than the already brilliant sedan. Agility and poise – yes and yes. The harder you push the more quietly aware you become of the work BMW engineers have undertaken to create this class leading handling large luxury wagon. The ride at times can be a touch firm, but this is a small price to pay for the brilliant body control and capabilities on offer.
Not so good : The ride feels a little unsettled over rough surfaces and the run-flat tyres are a touch noisier than ideal. The steering also provides less road feedback than 5-Series of old.
Buying and Owning
Good : The 520d Touring comes standard with (normally) optional features such as Auto park-assist, parking sensors, reverse camera, Bluetooth, satellite navigation and head up display. The 535i Touring adds one size larger 18 inch alloys, an improved audio system, electric adjust steering column and full electric front seats, smart-key entry and a power opening tailgate.
Needless to say we highly recommend the 520d Touring and are confident it would be an excellent ownership proposition.
Not so good : Both the 520d and 535i Touring are priced noticeably high when compared to the equivalent sedan variants. However we should add that both vehicles are fitted with a host of features that are optional on the sedan.
The vast number of shoppers at this price point will get behind the wheel of a big SUV instead, such as BMW’s own X5.