After the past few years, in which every manufacturer under the sun has hurled themselves blindfolded into a frenzy of crushingly boring crossover SUVs, along comes a car that bucks the trend.
On the outside it all looks a bit magnolia. Dull, even. Medium-sized estate cars are about as on-trend, sexed-up and fashionable as a pair of those inexplicably red trousers that inexplicably posh people insist on wearing.
Today, in 2017, a medium-sized estate is about as cool as Crocs ’n’ socks. But I cock my rigid middle finger at trends.
A few weeks ago, for a whole month, I spent every other day behind the wheel of a BMW 530 Touring M Sport xDrive.
PHBMW 530d price: £52,302
“The new 5-series is disgustingly comfortable”
And, apart from when I got a speeding fi ne off the Swiss authorities, I enjoyed every single minute of it. The fi rst key to this is ergonomics – the new 5-series is disgustingly comfortable.
The driver’s seat adjusts in every imaginable plane, so does the chunky multi-function steering wheel.
Almost everything can be controlled from it including the handy speed limiter, which is meant to stop you getting carried away (by the police).
It’s also disgustingly quiet. You would never know the 530d was a “diseasel”.
PHBMW 530d engine: 2,993cc six-cy, diesel turbo
The engine note is pleasantly growly but muted to the point you would swear blind it was a petrol. But put your foot down and the huge instant forward thrust would convince you this was a seven-litre petrol – not a three-litre oil-burner.
The twin turbos spool up instantly, offering lag-free propulsion in a heartbeat. The figure that matters here is 620Nm of torque.
It may look understated, but this is a ridiculously fast car from point to point.
The clever xDrive four-wheel drive system means none of this grunt is wasted.
Sixty per cent of the power is fed to the rear wheels but the system also has the ability to brake a wheel that’s spinning too fast or to feed power to an individual wheel that needs it in milliseconds.
To all intents and purposes it drives like a rear-wheel drive car and, with its natty rear-wheel steering system, a pretty nimble one too.
But it’s the way it sniffs out grip that marks it out as truly special. Floor the accelerator at the apex of a tight, rainsodden corner and there is no fuss or drama, no wheelspin or torque steer.
You are launched out of the corner as if someone had lit an afterburner.
PHBMW 530d 0-62mph: 5.6 secs
Or maybe even two. But cruise along quietly – something this car does incredibly well – and a real world 50mpg combined with the 14-gallon fuel tank will give you a whopping 700 miles between fill-ups.
With space inside for two six-footers in the back and 570 litres of rear boot space, you’ve not only got the range to cover countries non-stop but also the space and comfort to do so.
But the real reason this handsomely understated car is my car of 2017 is just that – it’s not shouty, it’s under the radar.
A real sleeper of a car. Only the driver and its occupants can appreciate just how fast, how silent, how polished and how much fun it is to travel in.
You’d never know from looking at it and that, for me, is a real plus. If I was ever lucky enough to buy one, the first thing I’d do would be to totally de-badge it.
I’d fit some humdrum steel pepperpot wheels, get the speed limiter removed and spend as much time in Germany as possible where you could really use it for what it’s best at – consuming vast mileages at vast speeds in total and utter luxury.
PHBMW 530d top speed: 155mph (limited)
MODEL: BMW 530d xDrive M Sport Touring
ENGINE: 2,993cc six-cy, diesel turbo
TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
0-62mph: 5.6 secs
ECONOMY: 51.4 mpg combined
FOR: Versatile velocity
AGAINST: Shame it’s 50k
SUM UP: All the car you’ll ever need