We drove the BMW 520D: combining sportiness and refinement to perfection…

 

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The BMW 5 series have a long tradition of being formidable driving machines, being equally at home on urban boulevards as well as fast Autobahnen. They offer comfort, driving pleasure, style and elegance, and last but not least spoil you with superb build quality, excellent workmanship and frugal longevity. All these qualities we find back with even more purity in the latest edition of the BMW 5 series. Honed to perfection, this new 5 series is a proud pleasure to drive and own. Just read further.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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A tradition of well proportioned elegance

The latest 5 series scores again very high when it comes to styling. This BMW is well dimensioned, and carries the so typical form language of the brand again to a very high level. We also like the layout and contours of cabin and dashboard.

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The test car was executed in the luxury line, and this meant elegant walnut veneer wooden inserts and chromed accents in so-called “Perlglanz Chrom”. It also meant nice alloy wheels and chromed accents on the bodywork.

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The digital instrument display is one of the most beautiful, readable in the industry, and in our opinion, ranks amongst the (very) best.

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BMW has succeeded in retaining the typical BMW panache of the former analog round instruments and the elegant instrument needles, and presenting this to us now in digital form.

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All this with uncanny good taste, styled very confidently, aiming at a typical BMW visual impact and actually achieving it. The luxury package also included led-based mood lighting, with strips along dashboard and doors.

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One thing BMW masters equally well is (cabin) ergonomics. The BMW 5 series is here again a very fine example of the art. All the controls are ideally turned to the driver, centre console controls are self explaining and all handles and gearchange levers just fall smoothly in your hand.

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The 5 series is quite roomy, and rear passengers have ample head and legroom. Last but not least the color schemes chosen by the BMW designers are “just right”. The combination in our test car of brown metallic paint with beige colored seats and interior witnessed again of this very good taste.

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Starting up the 2 liter diesel engine reveals a well known and proven unit, which is now smoother than ever. Powerful too, with a good 140 kW available at 4000 rpm. Of course, torque is even more important, and there is lots of it: a hefty 400 Nm between 1750 and 2500 rpm. Enough to make your progress very lively indeed, with ample pulling power available in any situation, at any speed.

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This marvelous diesel unit is ideally mated to the auto Steptronic transmission. Choosing “comfort” or “sport” and last but not least “eco pro” mode will change also the gearchange behavior of the box, together with engine responsiveness to throttle movements. So this BMW drives exactly the way you want it. The advantage of the digital instrumentation is that of course dial colors and instrumentation layout change according to the chosen mode, and your eyes will meet a fiery red aura for example within the instrument cluster when you have chosen the sport mode.

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Performance is nothing short of superb, with a top speed of around 235 km/h and acceleration from 0 to 100 in 7,5 seconds. Of course, acceleration in intermediate speeds is equally impressive.

This BMW remains quite frugal even under rather spirited driving, but when you decide to apply some restraint, consumption drops to levels of a minicar. Averages below 5 liter/100 km are not unrealistic, and the manufacturer quotes a consumption between 5 and 4,7 liters even under urban driving conditions. Potter along on country roads, and averages drop to near 4 liters, which is given the weight of the car quite astonishing indeed. According to BMW, average consumption is a around a mere 4,5 liter/100 km. CO2 emissions of this 1,6 ton car are merely 114 g/km.

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This brings us to the merits of today’s diesel engines, which have reached a formidable efficiency, refinement and power. Only rightly so that (German) politicians see it literally as the driving motor of our western economies for years to come, and include for decades an important role of the combustion engine in our future mobility. Admittedly emission tests have to be more practice oriented and realistic, but is the passenger car the only culprit of our urban pollution? How about the heavy commercial and freight traffic in our cities and their ring roads? I hear very little fuss about truck engines not meeting the emission standards…By the way, US EPA “passenger vehicle” emission standards only pertain to vehicles up to 8,500 pounds… so called heavier “work vehicles” are excluded, or emission standards for them are lower, and they can pollute more. It looks that they must be driving on another planet!

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We can only applaud that politicians and city authorities are coming again to their senses, and allow citizens to be proud owners of these magnificent vehicles for years to come, and that their investment is protected from draconic rulings which would impair their longer term economic value significantly. Indeed, much is at stake, not in the least the “Wertarbeit” concept which makes German cars so unique in their outstanding solidity, workmanship, reliability and longevity.

Unique BMW driving pleasure all over (again)…

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The Bavarian brand heralded the concept decades ago, “aus Freude am Fahren”, and this latest generation 5-series embodies it more than ever. Excellent seating position, precise steering, a chassis which is beautifully responsive and agile, stability on winding roads and at high Autobahnen speeds, a suspension which strikes an ideal balance between handling and comfort and as we said above can be adjusted to your driving mood, add all this with this well honed engine and transmission, and you have the ingredients for this unique BMW magic, which simply lives on and on, and will delight you for years and years to come, when you are so lucky to become the proud owner of this driving machine, and one of the best sporting saloons on this globe.

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…combined with refined and progressive electronics

BMW I investing heavily in state of the art electronics, and decidedly wants to make its mark here. There is the vehicle’s Infotainment system, which is now even easier to use, clearer and more informative. The driver can use the touchscreen to arrange the six tiles representing navigation, media, communication, ConnectedDrive, My Vehicle and messaging in any order. The tiles are displayed as live tiles instead of a static menu view. Indeed, getting acquainted with them is a breeze.

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Our test car came with the so-called Business pack, which included the Parking Assistant Pack, the professional navigation system with Real Time Traffic Information for 3 years, comfort phoning with wireless charging, the ConnectedDrive Services Pack. The latter lets you not only obtain numerous services but above all the innovative BMW Apps technology. This enables you to use many smartphone applications such as BMW Connected in your vehicle and in comfort via the operating concept of your BMW. This way you can experience new features every day: embark on a voyage of discovery, obtain tips on your journey, take your office into your vehicle with you or enjoy entertainment. Our test car had also the AppleCarPlay preparation, as the WiFi Hotspot.

Conclusion

The 5 series embodies the ideal balance between style, sportiness, quality, driving pleasure. It is a car to own and cherish, is well proportioned, roomy, fast, frugal, you name it. It is progressive too, with state of the art electronics built in, geared to the modern day driver and owner, making using it every day again an exquisite joy.

Indeed, aus Freude am Fahren, never will it be an empty phrase for these car makers in Bavaria…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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