<< earlier review later review >>
Reviews homepage -> BMW reviews
| First Drive | Munich, Germany | BMW 520d SE Touring |
Kyle Fortune - 14 Jun 2010
The 520d is by far the biggest selling model in the BMW 5 Series range. The 186bhp, 2.0-litre turbodiesel gets its first outing in the latest 5 Series in the new Touring (estate), and proves to be a very desirable combination. It's certain to be just as good in the saloon too. BMW's most popular engine proves to be the best in the 5 Series, thanks in part to class-leading economy and emissions.
In the Metal
BMW's new 5 Series is bigger than ever, the longer wheelbase giving it more room in the rear for passengers. There's more space in the rear for luggage too, with the Touring adding some practicality to the already vast boot of the saloon. It adds to its visual appeal too, the more spacious 5 being particularly well executed.
It's easily accessed space as well, with the Touring retaining the opening rear glass of its predecessors, while a 40/20/40 split in the rear seats allows you to carry through loads and two passengers in the back. Fold all of the seats and the 5 Touring offers 1,670 litres of load space.
What you get for your Money
In the UK, the 520d SE Touring costs a not significant £30,380, though standard equipment levels in the smartly finished, high quality cabin are decent. All 5s come with leather upholstery, automatic air conditioning, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, Bluetooth telephony and Dynamic Stability Control as standard.
To that you might want to add satnav and the new eight-speed automatic gearbox - or not if you like maps, a clutch pedal and a slick six-speed manual. With the expectation of frequent load lugging the Touring gets self-levelling air suspension on the rear axle as standard, too.
Many have questioned BMW's direction with the 5 Series, with only the most expensive models featuring the clever chassis control system that delivers the sort of drive BMW drivers expect. That's not true with the 520d Touring, which is unquestionably something of a gem in the range. Admittedly, the test cars BMW supplied came with adaptive damping, but otherwise they're just as the man on the street - or more accurately, the man in the suit in middle/upper management - will specify their 520d.
The engine is key to the 520d's success, as it's an absolute cracker. Not only is it tremendously refined, but the smooth and linear means by which it delivers its performance is incredible. It feels so much more muscular than you'd expect from 2.0-litres and four-cylinders, its 186bhp and 280lb.ft of torque hauling the big 520d Touring to 62mph in just 8.3 seconds - regardless of the transmission fitted.
The steering could be a bit more incisive, but really we're splitting hairs. The 520d Touring rides well, flowing down either testing back roads or long, boring motorways with the sort of crushing impunity that leaves you wondering why you'd need anything else.
The data may say that the Mercedes-Benz E-Class has a more spacious boot with the seats down, but the numbers that really matter are the BMW's 55.4mpg and 135g/km on the official combined cycle. They're class leading, and certain to ensure that it's a massive hit among fleet buyers. For the record, the saloon achieves 57.7mpg and 129g/km. You can thank the auto start-stop and other BMW EfficientDynamics measures for achieving these planet-friendly figures.
A quite brilliant combination of practicality, pace, poise and planet-friendliness, this is definitely the 5 Series we've been waiting for. If the sales figures of the previous 5 Series are anything to go by, it's the car you've been waiting for, too. The new 520d Touring has been worth it.