2014 BMW 520d Review
Car Tested: 2014 BMW 5-Series (520d) Modern Line
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 60,48,450/-
The 2014 BMW 520d offers a very good blend of eager performance and fuel economy.
BMW launched the sixth generation 5-Series in 2010 and last year the company gave the vehicle a mid-life facelift. The changes to the car aren’t a world apart as the facelifted F10 version gets subtle changes all around along with the addition of new features. The BMW 5-Series is a hot favourite of enthusiasts the world over but in 520d avatar, it’s trying to woo those who want a practical yet luxurious vehicle. Our test car came with the Modern Line trim, which focusses on luxury over sportiness. The BMW 520d is also the most popular variant of the 5-Series lineup in India and we got behind the wheel to gauge what’s new.
Exteriors – BMW has always taken it easy when it comes to exterior changes on their facelift models and the 5-Series isn’t any different. The 2014 BMW 520d gets very minor cosmetic tweaks including new front and rear bumpers which now get metallic accents, new slimmer headlights with a re-shaped LED layout, silver finish on the front grille of this trim (the M Sport gets black finish on the grille) and 18-inch alloy wheels (Turbine design), instead of 17-inchers found on the pre-facelift 520d. The overall result is the 5-Series now looks a bit fresh but nothing in the design strikes you immediately.
Interiors – The Modern Line of the BMW 520d gets all beige interiors which do give the cabin an airy feel but might not appeal to some. The dashboard is very similar to the old model but BMW has made small changes to boost the luxury appeal of the 5-Series. There are brushed silver inserts on the dashboard, including on the third spoke of the 3-spoke steering wheel. Light coloured wood inserts are placed on the dashboard, centre console and doors. The car uses a 6.5-inch screen for the infotainment system but the iDrive controller isn’t a touch-pad like on the 530d. Build quality is good and the front seats offer excellent support too.
At the rear, seating comfort continues to be excellent with ample cushioning all around. There is space for two at the rear as the transmission hump prevents a third passenger from squeezing into the rear bench. The big update to the 5-Series is the new instrument cluster, which isn’t a conventional unit. Instead, it uses an LCD screen and can change the display based on the driving mode. There are three modes on offer – Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport, the complete console changing colours and layout in each of these modes. BMW hasn’t skipped on equipment on this base 5-Series variant, it still comes with 8 airbags, sunroof, leather seats, steering mounted paddles, dual-zone climate control, electric steering and seat adjust (the latter with memory function).
Performance – The BMW 520d uses a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder engine which belts out 184 BHP of peak power at 4000 RPM and 380 Nm of peak torque between 1750 – 2750 RPM. While this might not sound much for a car of this size, performance is ample. The 5-Series performs brilliantly, the engine revs cleanly to the redline and power delivery although linear, is smoothly transferred to the rear wheels via a fantastic 8-speed ZF gearbox. The transmission is the high point of the package, it shifts cogs with butter smooth precision and is very quick too. In Sport mode, the autobox holds the gears till the redline and you have the option of upshifting using the steering mounted paddles or the fantastic to hold gearshift selector.
Other modes include Comfort and Eco Pro, the former not letting you know about gear shifts while the latter doing its very best to save fuel by keeping the revs as low as possible. There is also an ECO start/stop function. The only downside of this 1995cc mill is the refinement, it’s too audible inside the cabin and the clatter is quite evident at idle. Even when you floor the pedal and whizz past 3000 RPM, you can hear the growl from the motor. 100 km/hr comes up in fourth gear, signifying the shorter gearing. You can comfortably cruise in top gear at 100 km/hr with the RPM needle ticking in at just 1500 RPM. Our VBOX run showed that the 520d is a reasonably quick car, doing the 0-100 km/hr sprint in a 8.60 seconds. Fuel economy is good with city mileage being upwards of 10 km/l.
Driving Dynamics – BMW cars are known for handling and the 5-Series is no different. It feels eager to turn and the steering is crisp, rich with feedback. The 520d is a whole lot of fun behind the wheel, always putting a smile on your face as you steer into the next corner with enthusiasm. If anything, it only feels big, due to its large dimensions but once you are used to it, you can push the car around the twisties, rewarding yourself with a pat on the back at the end of the day for doing good entry and exit speeds around corners.
Where the 5-Series does falter is the ride quality. Although it’s quite acceptable at low speeds, the 520d does tend to get unsettled on not-so-perfect tarmac as you go faster. This affects the high speed stability of the car as well. While the 5-Series is glued to the roads at high speeds, just like any other BMW, if there is a bump or two on the road, the vehicle tends to bounce a bit over it. Insulation is fantastic though and you can barely hear the road or wind noise inside the cabin. The brakes are sharp and offer good stopping power.
Verdict – The BMW 5-Series is even more appealing in its facelifted form. While cosmetically there isn’t a world of a difference, it’s really the added equipment which makes this Bavarian’s case stronger. The 5-Series looks fresh, drives well and the powerplant packs in a lot of punch, even in the smaller engined 520d. The handling is sharp and although the ride quality is far from prefect, it’s quite acceptable. There is a ton of equipment on offer and the desirability factor of the BMW 5-Series really makes it a car worth considering in this segment.
The 5-Series has always been a desirable car but with the facelift, BMW has boosted the appeal even further. The 520d walks the right line between performance and economy, thereby making sense to both the heart and head.
* Performance and economy
What’s Not So Cool
* Ride quality
Alternatives: Mercedes E-Class, Audi A6, Jaguar XF
Further Reading: BMW 5-Series 530d Review