What is the BMW 5-series E60/E61?
If a car company is going to call its products “the ultimate driving machine”, it must have the machine and the drive to back it up. But with cars such as the 5- series BMW manages to flaunt that slogan without any sniggers from the back of the room.
These are high-quality, sleek-looking machines — refined, rewarding to drive and impeccably engineered. The 5-series comes as a smart, limousine-like saloon or elegant Touring estate, and while the styling is a little too aggressive for some, it has been toned down in recent years.
The 2003-10 model, codenamed E60 is saloon form and E61 in Touring (or estate) guise, is becoming increasingly affordable; post-2007 examples benefit from BMW’s fuel-saving EfficientDynamics programme, which helps to contain running costs. The latest series, launched in 2010, brought a significant update, however, and while some critics thought that the driving dynamics had been watered down in favour of comfort, the 5-series is, for all but the keenest road racers, a consummate all-rounder.
Some BMW fans will set their hearts on the M5 rocketship, but for the majority of buyers the flexible 520i petrol and 520d diesel will do just fine.
Of note: this 5-series scored only four stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, its pedestrian protection judged particularly poor, whereas the latest model has been awarded the full five, with a 95% rating for adult occupant protection.
Equipment levels are to a high standard, and the fit and finish of the leather-upholstered cabins is excellent.
The 5-series holds its value well, especially in diesel Touring form, and makes as good a car for family use as for business purposes, though the Touring’s not quite as much of a load-lugger as its Mercedes E-class and Audi A6 equivalents.
What to look out for when buying a used BMW 5-series E60/E61
There were several recalls for the 2003-10 model (check out www.vosa.gov.uk for a full rundown), and the new one has been recalled for possible water pump overheating. The 5-series has been solid but not glitch-free; it has scored disappointingly in customer satisfaction surveys, though problems have mostly been minor. Watch out for hard-worked former police cars.
The one to buy
BMW 520d SE
- 1995cc, 4 cylinders
- 184bhp @ 4400rpm
- 280 lb ft @ 1750rpm
- 6-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 8.1sec
- Top Speed:
- 58.9mpg (combined)
- Road Tax Band:
- L 4899mm, W 1860mm, H 1464mm
BMW 5-series rivals
- Jaguar XF (click to view used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Mercedes-Benz E-class (click to view used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Audi A6 (click to view used car prices on driving.co.uk)