BMW 5 Series estate (2017) review: Large, technologically accomplished and fun to drive

BMW 5 Series Estate image 1

Car salesmen have a very difficult job trying to convince customers to buy an estate car these days. For some reason, the marketing machine has brainwashed the masses into thinking that gigantic SUVs are the perfect companion to family life.

In reality, an elongated estate can carry more gear, tends to be more enjoyable to drive and, in our opinion, look a lot prettier than the majority of bulbous faux-by-fours that play the starring role in most daily school runs.

That final point is entirely down to personal opinion – but the other points are not open for discussion and if you need the proof then take a look at the new BMW 5 Series Touring, which can haul an impressive amount of kit and remain a joy to drive.

Specify the larger petrol and diesel engines and it is genuinely quick, the steering is precise throughout the range and the ride is both comfortable and dynamically brilliant through corners.

But when it’s time to tackle a boring run to the tip, simply fold the clever 40:20:40 split rear seats and the 5 Series Touring will happily swallow a staggering 1,700 litres of stuff, with plenty of intelligent touches that make carrying cargo an absolute doddle.

We absolutely loved the new tech-laden 5 Series Saloon, its nut and bolt refresh proving to be worth every second of BMW’s development time, and a week with its bigger Touring brother hasn’t changed our minds.

The Estate version is unmistakably a BMW and unmistakably a 5 Series, which some will see as a good thing – as the model has always been a handsome estate car – but others might find it all a little bland.

BMW 5 Series Estate image 3

Regardless, this G30 generation Touring is 36mm longer than the F10 model it replaces, 8mm wider and, strangely, 10mm taller. Luckily, this hasn’t made it look any less purposeful on the road and the extra length means there’s even more room inside.

The aggressive front headlights extend all the way to the inimitable BMW kidney grille, while a clever front apron features flaps which open when cooling is required but close again as needed to improve aerodynamic efficiency.

In addition to this, apertures in the front bumper suck air into the wheel arches, where it is channelled along the wheels before escaping again through breathers built into the flanks, to reduce air resistance.

BMW 5 Series Estate image 7

All in all, the new 5 Series Touring is a slippery devil, with some models boasting a drag co-efficiency of 0.27, but this function also leads to decidedly handsome form.

Pragmatism is one of the BMW’s strongest points and the additional chassis length means the engineers have been able to squeeze extra load-lugging space into the rear, as well as improve head and legroom for rear passengers.

BMW 5 Series Estate image 2

Naturally, the model retains the independently opening tailgate window, which has been a much-loved BMW Touring feature for years, while the tailgate itself can be optioned to open with a waggle of the foot under the rear bumper.

The additional width is noticeable in the boot, as is the excellent damping system on the rear seats, which quietly and smoothly fold flat with the pull of a lever.

Once the seats are lowered, there’s loads of room in the back for bikes, boards or baby gear.

We borrowed a model that featured one of the marque’s excellent bike racks for the roof, which freed up the cavernous boot for luggage. But we’re pretty sure everything could have happily fitted in without it.

BMW has also thrown in a few practical boot dividers, stowage nets and an extremely clever space for the rear luggage cover. In most cars this would usually have to be removed when the boot’s loaded to the brim, but instead it can be neatly stashed in a special compartment in the boot floor in the 5 Series Estate.

The entire infotainment system has been revised in this generation and it borrows much of its technology from the magnificent 7 Series.

Boring old analogue instrument binnacles are replaced by swanky digital versions, the standard 10.25-inch Control Display takes the form of a freestanding touchscreen and it can all be controlled with gestures or via natural speech.