It didn’t take long to decide the winner in this class. The BMW 5-Series does it all. In a hurry? The 2.0-litre engine has 184bhp – more than enough poke for fuss-free overtaking when driven solo. Even with a van on the back the Five went from 30-60mph in 12.6 seconds.
That makes it one of the quickest cars in this class, yet it’s also one of the most economical. Fitted with the optional eight-speed automatic gearbox, the BMW promises 53.3mpg on the combined cycle. Carbon dioxide emissions of 139g/km are exceptionally low for a car with such strong performance.
Straight-line stability is beyond reproach. Even when towing at 70mph drivers almost forgot there was a caravan hitched up until they looked in the mirror. In the lane-change test there was some body roll, and the tourer slid around dramatically but never took charge.
Hill starts are a doddle. Press a button to turn on the auto-hold feature and the outfit won’t roll backwards – no need to apply the push-button parking brake. There’s plenty of muscle to breeze up steep slopes in first gear or reverse.
Inside, the adjustable seat and wheel make it easy for the driver to get comfortable. Rear passengers could do with a little more knee-room, though, and we couldn’t quite squeeze every bit of holiday luggage into the boot. This aside, the practicality judge was impressed with the self-levelling suspension and comprehensive handbook.
Our biggest complaint? The ride is over-firm – but opt for Variable Damper Control (£985) and comfort improves.