Back then it didn’t have too many rivals but today the 5 Series has to contend with several competitors in a much more crowded marketplace. Even so, it retains its appeal. For some that appeal begins and ends with the blue-and-white spinner badge on the bonnet but most 5 Series buyers appreciate its silky-smooth blend of performance, road holding, comfort and luxury.
The E60 5 Series, born in the middle of BMW’s experimentation with styling, managed to avoid much of the design excess and arrived as an attractive model with elegant proportions and finely defined lines.
Open the door and you will find an attractive and welcoming interior: neat and simple, ergonomically efficient and characterised by premium materials and quality finishes.
There was good leg and headroom for four, five at a squeeze, and the boot was a decent size.
Under the bonnet you could find one of the numerous engine options, from a modest turbo diesel to a thundering V8.
There were trademark in-line petrol sixes of the sort that BMW is renowned for, in 2.5-litre and 3.0-litre capacity, and the V8s ranged from 4.0-litre to 4.8-litre displacement over the model’s life.
The turbo diesels were a 2.0-litre four-cylinder and a 3.0-litre six.
All delivered good performance for their purpose, even the small six, which had a strong mid-range and a willingness to rev if needed. All were linked to six-speed auto transmissions and drove through the rear wheels. On the road the E60 was smooth, refined and well-balanced.