The BMW 5 Series is the benchmark against which all executive cars are judged, so we tend to hold it to some pretty stringent standards. Most of the time it's been able to live up to expectations, but there has been the occasional blip along the way. The 'F10' generation 5 Series, launched in 2010, was the sixth iteration of the 5 Series, continuing a bloodline that began way back in 1972. It marked a stunning return to form and it needed to given the emerging excellence of its rivals. As a used buy it stands up extremely well. Here's what to look for from the models built from launch to its first facelift in 2013.
It's probably fair to say that this car's predecessor, the E60 5 Series, didn't find universal favour. In its defence, the initially odd-looking styling was probably ahead of its time, becoming far more accepted as time went by, but this was a car which majored on big power and aggressive driving dynamics at a time when the market had turned to favour high economy and low emissions, light weight and efficiency.
With the F10 5 Series, BMW set out to show that providing luxury, elegance, space, refinement, efficiency and an exciting drive in one package wasn't an impossible task. It needed to as well, as Mercedes-Benz had massively upped its game with the E Class and Audi, Lexus and Jaguar were hardly slacking either. Jacek Fr?ehlich's more conservative design met with approval when it was first aired at the Geneva Motor Show in Spring 2010.
Initially the range was quite limited, with BMW's September 2010 launch including 520d, 523i and 550i saloons and estates. October 2010 saw the phasing in of M Sport models across the range, as well as 525d and 535d diesels and the 528i 3.0-litre petrol unit. The 62.8mpg 520d EfficientDynamics saloon was introduced in October 2011 and the range was augmented with the addition of the thunderous M5 in November 2011, the first car to wear such a badge that featured a turbocharger under the bonnet. 2012 saw the introduction of the ActiveHybrid5 model, which was also then offered in M Sport specification. All Touring versions were revised in June with automatic tailgate operation as standard, while all 5 Series variants gained Voice Control at no additional cost. The range enjoyed a light facelift in 2013 with incremental efficiency gains made across the board.