BMW 5 Series Touring: Extra space, better comfort, more technology
With many drivers seemingly obsessed with SUVs and crossovers, it does no harm to remember the lovely potential of the good old estate.
The new BMW 5 Series may not have attained actual perfection in the station wagon genre, but it's not far off.
The latest iteration, the seventh generation, follows hard on the heels of the launch of its saloon sibling some months back.
However, the new Touring comes with extra space, better comfort, more technology and better driving dynamics.
It's those driving dynamics that should have SUV drivers sitting up. If you really want to feel the road, then get back down towards it in a car designed to hug the darn thing.
Estates like this aren't just the domain of executives, with families and sales folk requiring large load space too. Pretty much everyone could make use of the vastness of those cavernous rear ends.
Although the 5 Series was born in 1972, somewhat surprisingly we had to wait until 1991 for the estate version.
More than a million Tourings have been shifted since then, making it one of the world's biggest-selling station wagons.
BMW's designers are experts at mixing space, practicality and refinement, and in the Touring they've turned that into something of an art form.
Boot capacity has risen by 10 litres to 570 litres, and when the rear seats are folded flat the maximum load space is 1,700 litres.
This is a modicum less than the Merc E-Class estate's 1,820 litres, but nothing to get worked up about.
More impressively, BMW has increased the car's weight-carrying capacity. Thanks to self-levelling rear air suspension, it can now carry 750kg - an increase of 120kg on the previous model.
Two turbo diesel engines are the mainstays of the range - the 520d and the 530d, the latter coming with six cylinders and significant punch. The eight-speed automatic gearboxes look particularly tasty.
The 520d is of course the more economical, officially claiming 62.7mpg and emitting 114g/km.
You can also choose petrol engines too, with X-Drive also boasting improved efficiencies of up to 11%.
These emissions figures are partly helped because, like its saloon sibling, the new Touring has shed significant amounts of weight. Around 100kg, to be precise.
BMW X-Drive is available for two 5 Series Touring models, allowing the car's systems to continuously vary the power split between the front and rear wheels as conditions require, providing improved traction and optimised stability across all driving situations.
Build quality is exquisite, with leather and soft touch materials everywhere and an impressive blend of practicality and sophistication.
As you'd expect in the latest executive car, the 5 Series has been infused with BMW's most up-to-date technology.
An impressive array of driver assistance technologies has been designed to reduce human workload.
These include optional Remote Control Parking, which uses a special handset and software to allow owners to manoeuvre in and out of forward parking spaces without anyone at the wheel.
There are also optional Parking Assistant packages for automated parking in parallel and angled parking spaces, plus Surround View and Remote 3D view.
Other technologies like Lane Change Assistant are designed to prioritise safety out on the roads and are, as I mentioned, another milestone on the road to driverless vehicles.
As standard on the BMW 5 Series, the latest generation of the Professional Navigation system boasts a fast start-up, faster route calculation and more realistic graphics in cities.
Navigation, phone connectivity, entertainment, vehicle information and much more are displayed on a high-res 10.25-inch screen using BMW's brilliant iDrive controller.
The BMW 5 Series Touring is available now from £38,075.