Last year’s overall champion is back to defend its class title, and remains our favourite vehicle in the 1700-1899kg weight class.
BMW should be very pleased with this result: it’s not as if the opposition is weak this year. The Volvo V60 Cross Country, in particular, runs the 5 Series very close.
The trouble is, the 520d Touring has no significant weakness. As a tow car, it is exceptionally stable.
Data from the Al-Ko ATC system shows there’s very little movement when slowing down from high speeds, and our test drivers were happy to tow with it at speeds that would be illegal on the motorway.
For most vehicles, the lane-change test is our most challenging manoeuvre. But the 520d drove through the course with no sign of strain
or effort, even on the third and fastest run.
You can buy more powerful versions of the 5 Series Touring, but there’s really little need. We’re perfectly happy with a 30-60mph time of 11 seconds.
The 520d comfortably holds speed on hilly routes, and the eight-speed automatic gearbox almost goes unnoticed, so smooth are the gearchanges.
What’s more, the 5 Series stops as well as it goes: the 30-0mph stopping distance of 9.7 metres is one of the shortest in this year’s tests.
In everyday driving, the 5 Series is a pleasure. However, we’d recommend paying the extra for adaptive suspension damping. It was fitted to the car tested in 2018, but not this year, and it certainly improves ride comfort.
Passengers should be just as content as the driver, because the cabin is roomy and quiet at speed.
There’s plenty of luggage space, too: our practicality judges found room for all but one item from their load of holiday kit.
Self-levelling rear suspension, a trailer stability system and a handy rear-view camera ticked more practicality boxes.
The price makes this a tow car for the well-heeled, but healthy discounts are available and running costs are affordable.