Despite initial reservations, the Chris Bangle design is modern and crisp and a better application of the theme than other models. Its impressive electronic gadgetry includes active steering, head-up-display and active headlights, and has seriously moved BMW’s game on.
Driving and performance
A 50/50 weight distribution and a rear-wheel-drive chassis makes for a great drive. Its natural talents are further aided by abundant electronic trickery including computer-controlled anti-roll bars. There’s a choice of sport or standard suspension set-up. Finally, excellent optional active steering sharpens responses at low speed.
An ideal driving position is easy to achieve and the abundance of buttons has been reduced through the use of the i-Drive system, pioneered on the 7-series.
Lightweight six-cylinder petrol units impress with a smooth yet potent delivery. In addition to a 3-litre unit, the 2.5 is available in two states of tune for the 523i and 525i. V8 unit is effortlessly powerful.
Amazingly, the diesel units impress even more by being refined yet boasting good economy and bountiful levels of torque. All models are fitted with a six-speed gearbox as standard. V10-engined M5 was launched in 2005 with a colossal 500bhp.
A four-star Euro NCAP crash test score is below average when rivals from Audi, Mercedes and Saab have achieved five. Six airbags as standard (two more are optional) plus every electronic aid is standard, too.
On the forecourt
Adds load-lugging capacity. £1,400-1,600 premium.
Waiting lists continue.
Trade: 0505-0655: £52,920-56,448. Retail: 0505-0605: £61,737-62,682
Cars with cloth interior/manual gearboxes
Significantly harder to shift.
In the workshop
Bearings in fuel injector pump could fail, leading to the car stalling; front seat-back heater can overheat; ECU faults led to loss of engine power; fault in DSC yaw-rate sensor.
Parker's buyers' lines
“My dealership knows how to treat a customer, unlike many competitors”
“Outstanding balance and body control spoilt by a hard ride – run flat tyres are nonsense”