The external looks have barely changed over the predecessor, but inside the styling is an improvement. BMW has carved out more space internally, so that parents can now fit three car seats across the rear (although there’s still only two sets of IsoFix) and boot space is up to 1,700 litres.
Up front, the design is familiar in its spartan appeal but there is a host of smarter, better technology. The large infotainment screen can be controlled via the familiar iDrive rotary knob or gesture control or by touching the screen. Gesture control works well but you do still look like a bit of a fool swiping at the air. It comes as part of a £1,500 technology package that includes the enhanced heads-up display (more information displayed), better Bluetooth with wireless charging, and wifi hotspot.
The Touring is now capable of all sorts of clever things (as options, at a price, naturally). You can reverse the car or drive it forward remotely, using the smart key fob, out of a tight parking spot to enter it, and an updated active cruise control monitors not merely the speed of the next car but the actions of the next three cars ahead, by bouncing the sensors off the road underneath the car immediately in front.
From July, software upgrades mean the 5 Series Touring will gain a degree of autonomous driving, and will also undertake overtaking manoeuvres for you if you keep the indicator depressed. Using the same cloud technology that’s coming to all of us soon, the BMW Connected service means the 5 Series will talk to other BMWs on the road, receiving data from them in real time to inform the driver of upcoming situations. For example, if BMWs up ahead have activated their windscreen wipers, a rain alert will pop up. If you link to the BMW app, the car will inform you, via the satnav, of parking spaces up ahead, which roads are emptier than others, and if a car has just vacated a space.