IN a year when car manufacturers were falling over themselves to deliver a huge choice in sport utility vehicles, the winner at the motoring ‘Oscars’ was a stalwart of the saloon sector.

Described by judges as “one of the classiest and most comfortable cars on sale today”, the BMW 5 Series was named best luxury car as well as Car of the Year by What Car?

And it wasn’t even one of the more powerful, flashier versions that took the title. No, it was the ever-popular 520d SE that grabbed the crown.

With its semi-autonomous drive capability, driving dynamics and high level of standard equipment, the 520d has long been a favourite among executives.

The latest version uses some uber technology from within BMW to create a saloon that’s more refined than ever before, significantly lighter, safer and more fuel-efficient. How does an mpg figure of more than 70 grab you?

What’s more, the new generation family of twin-power turbo engines provide impressive performance gains, together with reductions in fuel consumption and emissions.

There was never any likelihood of BMW resting on its laurels with the 5 Series, but what it has done with the seventh generation is reduce the driver’s workload and taken a step towards fully autonomous driving.

For example, remote control parking – as seen first on the new BMW 7 Series – and the optional parking assistant and parking assistant plus packages, which enable automated parking with ease in both parallel parking spaces and perpendicular or angled spaces, now feature. Surround view and remote 3D view offer peace of mind to anyone who frequently finds themselves manoeuvring in awkward traffic situations.

As standard on the Series, the latest generation of the navigation system boasts a fast start-up, even faster route calculation and more realistic 3D graphics in cities. BMW is now the first carmaker to offer Microsoft Office 365 users a secure server connection for exchanging and editing emails, calendar entries and contact details.

But despite all of the advances in comfort technology, it is the joy if driving the 520d that remains its most important feature.

Under the bonnet of the BMW 520d SE EfficientDynamics model lies the most efficient incarnation of the 190hp four-cylinder diesel unit, which helps the saloon to achieve a fuel consumption of 72.4mpg, meaning CO2 emissions of 102g/km.

This not only the most enjoyable 5 Series ever in terms of handling and comfort but also the best looking. Sleek, with sporting overtones, it is 36mm longer than the previous model and six millimetres wider, with a wheelbase increased by seven millimetres.

These minor changes in the dimensions are accompanied by new styling to the standard LED headlights and an emphasis on drag coefficient that sets a new benchmark in this class.

The interior of the new BMW 5 Series Saloon strikes a fine balance between sporty driver focus and sophisticated elegance. Top-class materials, supreme build quality and attention to detail, a great feeling of spaciousness and the new technologies in abundance combine to offer both driver and passengers superb comfort and driving enjoyment.

There’s even more headroom in the rear, despite the flowing roofline, as well as an increased boot capacity of 530 litres.

The new car feels much roomier inside, something that can be attributed not just to the lowered instrument panel and freestanding display, but also to the cabin’s enlarged dimensions, particularly in terms of elbow and shoulder room.

You might have thought that this stalwart of the business community could not get much better, but it has and it is quite brilliant.