Car Reviews

2020 BMW 5 Series Saloon Review

We test the updated BMW 5 Series, in 530e guise.

We test the updated BMW 5 Series, in 530e guise.


Pros: style, refinement, comfort, driving experience

Cons: fussy dashboard design

The evergreen BMW 5 Series has come in for its midlife update, in plenty of time for the new registration plate in January. It brings with it modest design tweaks inside and out, more technology, more customisation and a bigger focus on hybrid power. Our first taste of the facelifted car is in 530e guise, which also gets an improved plug-in hybrid system. It’s on sale in Ireland right now.

BMW 5 Series Design

While the bodywork is little changed on the updated 5 Series, the detailing has been overhauled, so you’ll spot the new car a mile away. Up front, there’s a wider radiator grille and more expressive headlights, the latter available with varying levels of technology, depending on how much you want to spend. Those are complemented by restyled bumpers, new colours and new wheels, while the M Sport Pro package also adds dark highlights in place of chrome and a small boot spoiler. Round the back, all cars get attractive new LED lights, redesigned bumpers and more prominent exhaust outlets. Oh, and red brake callipers are available for the first time, as well as the usual M Sport blue items.

BMW 5 Series Interior

Inside, the 5 Series is spacious as ever for four, with a fifth squeezing into the middle of the back seat when necessary. The quality of the materials is high, and the switchgear is all tactile to use. BMW is one of the few car makers that is sticking with a rotary controller for its infotainment system, and we applaud that, as it’s far easier and safer to use on the move than a touchscreen. Of course, the 5 Series also features one of them and, as part of the update, it gets the latest BMW operating system and digital instrumentation. It all looks great, though we’d like a little more personalisation of the appearance of the instruments. The system itself is a joy to use, responding snappily and even featuring useful voice control.

BMW 5 Series Performance & Drive

No doubt the BMW 520d will remain popular for some time to come, but interest in plug-in hybrid cars is on the rise, so the 530e version is more relevant than ever. As before, this model features a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and an electric motor, though BMW has overhauled the system to be more efficient and also higher performing. Maximum outputs of 420Nm and 292hp are not to be sniffed at, though the 530e only feels as fast as those numbers suggest it will be if you choose the Sport driving mode. Do that and it feels like a proper sports saloon, with the handling to match.

Otherwise, in its default settings, this car is wonderfully refined and comfortable. It operates in Hybrid mode and maximises use of the battery charge before turning to the petrol engine, though you can override that by choosing the Electric driving mode. Officially, it will do over 50km on battery power alone, though it’s not easy to replicate that in reality. And, to maximise this car’s efficiency (as with all plug-in hybrids), you really do need to plug it in regularly to keep its battery pack charged up.

BMW 5 Series Pricing

Prices may alter a little come 2021, but, at the time of writing, the updated 5 Series starts from about €51,000, for the 520i. The 520d is priced from €52,000 and the 530e SE is just under €60,000 (including the SEAI grant we assume will still apply next year), so the latter is not the cheap option. As before, the 5 Series is offered in SE and M Sport specifications, with a limited-edition M Sport Edition and then the M Sport Pro package as an optional add-on.

Carzone Verdict 4/5

The BMW 5 Series is one of the company’s most important cars, but even so, BMW could hardly be criticised for being conservative when it comes to its evolution. The new model is as classy, luxurious and good to drive as ever, now with more technology on board and a fresh new appearance. The improved 530e is tempting, but its higher price might mean buyers stick with purely petrol and diesel options for now.

Test Car Details:  

Model driven: BMW 530e M Sport Pro

Price: 5 Series from about €51,000

Hybrid system: 2.0-litre petrol engine, 80kW electric motor and 12kWh battery

Transmission: automatic

Annual motor tax: €140 (from 2021)

0-100km/h: 5.9 seconds

Power: 292hp

Boot space: 410 litres