Almost new buying guide: BMW 5 Series

BMW 520d There is an exec car method in this line - according to your desires and needs. Just make sure you get good

The 5-2010 BMW 17 Series Sedan offers a near-perfect combination of performance, economy and build quality in an executive car class, especially in the tax busting 520d SE trim. In some areas, like styling (a bit bland) and suspension (optional adaptive systems are a big step forward), it drops a little short, but in the Round, it's a used car you won't regret buying.

The 520d SE, which was the least powerful diesel in the 2010 lineup, dominates the offering and given its critical role as a long-distance mobile office, mileage can be high. For example, as it was written, there were nearly 230 520ds with over 100,000 miles on one popular sales site, ranging in price from £4000 on a 2011-Reg at 170000 miles to £10,000 on a 2015-Reg at 100.

On diesels, there is mostly a large selection and range from the later 518d released in 2014 (rare, less powerful and no more economical than the 520d, so avoid it if it's cheap) to the Thunder, the twin-turbo 535d that produces 309bhp and an even more impressive 465lb ft of torque for 0-62mph in 5.3sec. Prices for the 535d start at £7500 for 2001-Reg C 130 miles. Between the slightly more common 000d, 530lb and 398bhp ft. Opening prices remain around £354. If high mileage is easy to kill is your goal, this or the 5000d will do nicely.

The gasolines were never going to compete with the tax busting diesels, which is a pity because BMW has made them more efficient since 2011. Gone are some of the old six-pot 3.0-liter engines, badged 523i and 528i, to be replaced by a new four-cylinder turbocharged unit, badged 520i and, unfortunately, 528i. A 2012 Reg 520i GP with 50 miles costs around £000 but, for power with decent economy, go for the 10,500i.

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If you want a classic BMW six-pot experience, with cuts to match, you've got the early 3,0-liter machines we mentioned, plus another one, the 535i. Beyond these, there's the 550i's 4,4-liter V8, and finally the mighty M5. I almost forgot: the same 535i ActiveHybrid could, but then with the economy in the mid-20s, so did new car buyers.

On the front trim, BMW kept things simple. There are only three: SE, luxury and M Sport. The SE has the very bases covered, dual-zone climate control, a 6,5-inch touchscreen iDrive system with navigation and digital radio, front and rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and windshield wipers. The SE is our choice, but if you want more comfort and technology, go for luxury, and if you want the M5-Lite looks without that bills car, choose the M Sport.

Our brother's reliability study is the name of what car? in some places this generation of the 5 series is slightly lower than the same generation of the Mercedes-Benz E-class and Audi A6, but higher than the Jaguar XF. Serious deficiencies concern the exhaust system and engines, with a quarter of the cars affected not being driven.

Top spec choose

M sport: M Sport gives you an M5 touch, thanks to its body kit, M sport alloy wheels, sport suspension and dark chrome exhaust pipes, plus powered sport front seats inside.

Need to know

Search for vehicles with an additional variable damper control. It takes model handling and comfort to a new level. Small surface irregularities are better understood and the body rolls less. If you can't find a car with it, at least avoid wheels larger than 18 inches.

In 2013, all 5 series diesels became 6-compliant Euro standard, which is optional until September 2015. Depending on the model, they have either a storage Nox catalyst or a Scr catalyst with urea injection.

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Starting in 2014, eight-speed automatic models feature Active Drive Recommended, a technology that works with a satellite navigation system to produce gear shifts that match road conditions. It works regardless of the navigator or not.

Our choice

BMW 520d SE: in post-2013, new and Euro 6 compliant versions are top value and copious 520d ones to watch. The SE trim has most of the stuff you need.

wild cards

BMW 550i M Sport: a step below the M5, but with a 4.4-liter V8 that makes 402bhp for 0-62mph in 5,0sec. Cheaper than the M5 (prices from £12,000 up from £19,000) and rarer too.

The ones we found

2011 520d SE, 176,000 km, £4500

2013 525d SE car, 100 miles, £000

2015 528i M Sport Car, 79,000 miles, £13,950

2016 530d M Sport, 59,000 km, £17,300

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