The BMW 5 Series has long been a benchmark in the world of executive saloons. Its household name is almost a byword for such things as reliability, class, and a means to go about your business with minimal effort. The 520d is a particular favorite of the people here in the UK, so we thought it only right to grab the keys and see if the 5 Series is still the king of the castle.
Competitors, Mercedes-Benz in particular, have really upped their game over the past few years with the new C and E-Class’ putting a lot of pressure on BMW’s 3 and 5 Series. BMW can no longer afford to presume that their product will be “the ultimate driving machine” with the battle for car sales in Europe being more fierce than ever.
Our 2013 BMW 520d saloon was equipped with the M Sport package and a whole host of other toys. £6,765 of them to be precise bringing the total on the road price tag to £34,330. The key option of note is the Variable Damper Control, something we shall come on to soon. In all its silver glory this 5 Series does look the part. The M Sport alloys compliment its sleek profile as the whole package exudes professionalism. I believe the Germans would describe this cars aesthetics as “fit for purpose.”
If you were completely clueless about cars, the one thing that the 5 Series will teach you is that BMW are very good at attention to detail. Sliding into one of the leather seats instantly conveys their perfect execution of ergonomics. The seating position is not only supportive, but oh so very comfortable in the way its bolstering grips you. Control layouts for the console are logical and the widescreen display integrates itself into the cabin masterfully. What gets you most about the cabin of this car is not the beautifully crafted steering wheel or the now easy to use iDrive system, its not even the practical amount of space or that everything you interact with feels durable. No, when you sit down and think about it the most striking thing about the interior is the fact that you take it for granted because BMW have made every interaction so effortless.
On the road the car is quiet and refined with its 2.0 litre in-line four producing quite the surge thanks to 181BHP and 380Nm of torque. However, the highlight of the 520d’s driving experience is found in its steering. It is direct and accurate allowing the driver the enjoyment of placing the car exactly where he/she wants. In fact, despite this being a very grown-up car, you often find yourself trying to kiss the apex of a corner just because it is pleasurable. The chassis still retains a slight sporting feel and the aforementioned adjustable dampers when in sport mode, provide a great setup for a B-road blast. This M Sport model also had ZF’s excellent 8 speed gearbox that silently swaps cogs seamlessly.
It is not very often I say this, but the new BMW 5 Series is very near faultless. Maybe my only gripe would be that it does its job a little too well and lacks a bit of character, but the people walking into the showroom to buy one aren’t necessarily the worlds greatest enthusiasts. The 520d M Sport; Handsome, comfortable, efficient with 57MPG and still the best.