BMW 520d Test Drive Review
BMW 520d - Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Car tested: 2011 BMW 520d

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 48,05,497/-

The F10 BMW 5-Series was launched in India last year. Currently in its 6th generation, the 5-Series is a very important model for the company and is based on the F01 7-Series platform. Historically, the five is the second best seller for BMW after the 3-Series, but accounts for 50% of the company’s profit. The German automaker has sold more than 5.5 million 5-Series cars till date. The BMW 520d is the base diesel in India and uses the same engine which does duty in both the 320d and the X1 diesel. But does the new BMW 5-Series outdo its closest rival? The Mercedes E250 CDI? We are just going to find out.


Exteriors – The new 5-Series has evolved significantly since its introduction in 1972. The latest F10 is a neutral looking car. You might like it much but you definitely won’t hate it. Unlike the E60, the F10 looks quite conservative in styling. It draws heavy inspiration from its elder brother, the 7-Series, which isn’t a bad thing. With the longest wheelbase in the segment, a long and sleek hood, short overhangs, and a coupe-like roofline, the new BMW 5-Series Sedan stands out clearly from the competition. The daytime running lights incorporate quite unmistakable LED corona rings. The slightly forward inclined kidney grille and flared wheel arches, gives the front end a strong presence.

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The dynamic lines of the car are further enhanced by the strikingly compact counter-swing at the bottom of the C-pillar.

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The L-shaped rear light clusters reflect the typical look of a BMW. Three rows of LED lights look straight out of the 7-Series.

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Interiors – All BMW cars have a similar dashboard design language and the new 5-Series is no different. The cockpit is inclined towards the driver and features horizontal lines on the instrument panel. All displays, knobs and buttons are situated centrally for use by the driver and front passengers; controls for the driver’s use only are to the left of the steering wheel or on the front center console. The steering wheel has power tilt and telescopic adjustment and both front seats come standard with 10-way power adjustment including head-restraint height.

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The seating position has been improved over the former model both front and rear, with knee-room on the rear seats of the new BMW 5-Series Sedan up by 13 mm (not really a huge improvement when you sit in both the cars simultaneously). Boot capacity is 520 litres with the tool kit neatly mounted on the inside of the boot lid.

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The instrument cluster is classic BMW with black panel display. Every time you start the car, the service interval time flashes on the cluster. The four classic circular instruments display important vehicle monitoring functions.

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The F10 features BMW’s 4th generation iDrive control screen in 7 inch dimensions and 800 x 480-pixel resolution. The company claims the displays to be trans reflective so that light from the sun enhances the images on the screen. The Driver can make calls or surf radio stations via the steering-wheel controls. The iDrive features various interesting tid-bits from servicing details, car settings and likewise. You can choose how many times do you want the indicators to blink and when should the drive me home lights turn off. The vehicle journey computer displays interesting information about your journey, including time, distance and real time fuel consumption.

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The space between the electronic gear selector lever (which feels extremely nice to hold) and the climate control unit offers room for two cup holders and a key holder. A further storage compartment is located behind the iDrive Controller.

On the Move – BMW engineers have really gone into small details with the 5-Series. Start the car and the steering wheel automatically tilts upwards to help you usher in pure leather comfort. Slot it into reverse and the left side rear view mirror will automatically turn downwards. Keep the door open and the car won’t move. Switch on the hazard lights and when you turn the indicators, the hazards go off and the indicator takes over. Switch it off and the hazards start again. When the car is in speeds excess of 20kmph, the rear view mirrors won’t electronically retract. These are small things but have been well catered to by the Bavarian automaker.

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The 520d features an 8-speed automatic transmission which is extremely ease to use. There is a manual mode, which helps you take control but only just. If you won’t upshift or downshift beyond a certain point, the car does that on its own. What this 8-speed automatic transmission is made of is simply outstanding. Four planetary gear sets and five clutch packs are controlled in a way that no more than two of the five clutch packs are freewheeling at any given time. What this means is that only one clutch pack is disengaged to shift up or down by one or two gears. On the other hand, downshifting more than two gears is accomplished as a direct shift. A downshift from 8th to 2nd gear is made with only one clutch pack disengagement, and thus occurs without stepping down through the intermediate gears. This makes shifts ultra-quick in the new 5-Series.

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The 5-Series employs powerful Xenon lights thrown via projectors. What this results is extremely powerful lightning. Hit the headlight flick and you feel lightning has struck at the car infront of you!

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Ride, Handling and Braking – The 5-Series uses a front dual ball joint short-long arm suspension, replacing the MacPherson strut suspensions BMW previously used, and a rear multilink suspension. This yields a fantastic balance between ride and handling for the car. You don’t feel the harshness of the runflat tyres like on other Bimmers, and the ride is comfortable like it always ought to have been. A vast improvement over the car it replaces. But still short of the carpet comfort the Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers.

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The suspension is slightly stiff and the car even features a neatly packed strut brace in the hood. This gives the 5-Series fantastic and sure footed handling. The electric power steering takes away the level of feel and feedback the E60 offered. But compensates with the light and agile feel in the city. With technologies like Dynamic Traction Control and Dynamic Stability Control, cornering hard in the F10 is like going on a roller coaster, you know it will go through but your scared how fast would you (not the car) be able to take it. High speed stability is again fantabulous and you seldom feel the speed that your traveling. The car feels a good 40 kmph slower at high speeds compared to what it really is doing. A very good highway muncher is what the 520d really is.

One of the strongest points by far of the new 5-Series is its brakes. They are tremendously powerful helping this car to reach a standstill in no time. Anti-lock brakes and brake assist system do their bit in getting this car stationary. Stand on the brakes at any speed and any road condition, this BMW will come to a halt in no time, yet without steeping out of line or creating any sort of panic inside the passenger compartment.

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Performance – The BMW 520d is powered by a 1995cc, 4-pot, common rail diesel motor. Power figures are quite modest at 184hp, while the 380Nm of torque is the real driving factor in this machine. The same engine powers various cars in the BMW line-up but what is particularly impressive are the BMW EfficientDynamics technologies such as Brake Energy Regeneration. This interesting piece of technology charges the battery when you apply the brakes (a green light glows in the cluster). Usually, a car’s alternator runs continuously to charge the battery drawing power from the engine. In the case of the 5-Series, this results in virtually no power being drawn from the engine, resulting in better performance.

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The company has used lightweight materials to balance the vehicle and lower its overall weight. Components such as doors, hood, front fenders, and suspension assemblies are made of aluminum. Even with such a small motor, the 520d never feels sluggish. It reaches 100 kmph in 8.1 seconds which is decent for a car of this size and engine. The car would easily cruise at higher triple digit speeds without a fuss but if your into self driving, you will be slightly disappointed. The automatic gearbox shifts gears at 4000 RPM, but if you feel the need, the need for speed you can always chose the manual/sports option. The 520d all of a sudden senses urgency. The car would redline all the way to 5000 RPM before upshifting. For most, the 520d’s power would suffice but if you want more power, the 525d is just Rs. 4 lakhs away and the 530d another Rs. 4 lakhs away. Still want more? The M5 would be arriving here soon.

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Fuel Efficiency – The EfficientDynamics in the 520d works flawlessly to ensure a car of this size returns exceptional mileage. The 8-speed tall geared setup makes a significant contribution to reduced fuel consumption. We got 11+ kmpl, which is seriously amazing for a car which weighs in excess of 1.6 tons.

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Conclusion – The new BMW 5-Series is a huge step forward. The key area of improvements are very crucial to this segment of buyers and the company has done well here. The 5-Series will now appeal to a broader array of buyers, who would choose to be in the back seat with an occasional shot at the drivers seat. The 520d impresses with its fantastic ride and handling balance, amazing brakes and timeless looks. The engine is just about adequate for the job and most buyers wouldn’t really need more power, making the 520d a sensible buy for luxury car aficionados.

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Whats Cool

* Built quality
* Terrific brakes
* Fantastic road holding
* High attention to detail
* Ride and handling balance

Whats Not So Cool

* No auto unlocking doors
* Lack of seat belt adjustment
* Electric power steering
* Run flat tyres

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BMW 520d Specifications : –

* Engine: 1995 cc, 4 Cylinder, 16V, Common Rail Diesel with VGT
* Power: 184hp @ 4000 RPM
* Torque: 380Nm @ 1750-2500 RPM
* Transmission: 8-speed auto
* Top Speed: 225 kmph
* 0-100kmph: 8.1 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 11-12 kmpl (City), 13-14 kmpl (highway)
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Tires: 225/55/17 Run Flats
* Brakes: Brake Energy Regeneration
* Safety: ABS, Brake Assist, Dynamic Traction Control, Dynamic Stability Control, Dual SRS Front Airbags, Side Airbags, Park Distance Control

BMW 520d Dimensions : –

* Overall length x width x height: 4841 mm X 1902 mm X 1483 mm
* Ground clearance: 141 mm
* Turning Radius – 5.7 m
* Boot Volume: 520 liters
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 liters
* Kerb Weight: 1625 kgs

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