2016 BMW 520i Review
2016 BMW 520i – Click above for high resolution image gallery

2016 BMW 520i Review

Car Tested: 2016 BMW 5-Series (520i); Road Test No. 764

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 67,14,660/-

The BMW 520i offers the smoothness of a petrol engine without missing out on any comfort

The BMW 5-Series is a very popular luxury sedan in the Indian market and it has been available only with diesel engines since the past 4-5 years. The 520d currently has the most demand in the entire line-up since it offers lower running costs and is a good buy for someone who doesn’t crave for too much performance. With the uncertainty over diesel engines, BMW has introduced a petrol engine for the 5-Series and it is aimed at those people who have low running and don’t mind picking a petrol engined luxury saloon. We drove the 2016 BMW 520i and here’s what it feels like.

Motor Quest: The BMW 5-Series (F10) is currently in its 6th generation. The 7th generation (G30) is already out in global markets and will be launched in India in 2017. The new 5-Series is going to be leagues ahead of the current model and will be loaded with a lot of gadgets too.

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The 520i looks identical to the 520d, save for the badging at the rear

Exteriors – The BMW 5-Series seriously has a lot of presence due to its sheer size and the bulk it carries. There are no changes to the 520i and the exterior styling remains the same as what we saw in 2014 when the 5-Series LCI was launched in the market. You get 18-inch Turbine style wheels, sharp LED headlights, sleek tail lamps and of course the signature kidney grille. Our test car came with the Imperial Blue Brilliant colour and the 5-Series petrol is offered only on the Luxury Line trim. Due to this, there are a lot of chrome inlays on the window frames, key fob, tail pipe, etc.

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The interior layout remains the same too; colour combination is pleasing

Interiors – The 520i comes with black and beige interiors which are complemented by Anthracite fine wood trims. The overall colour combination looks classy and if I must say, better than the all-beige interiors on the 520d. Top notch materials have been used everywhere and the entire layout of the insides feels very familiar since it is shared with other cars from the BMW stable. You also get Ambient Lighting with selectable mood lights. There are other features on offer, such as sunroof, ORVMs with heat and anti-dazzle function, IRVM with anti-dazzle and even a smokers’ package. On the safety front, the 520i is loaded with dual front airbags, head airbags for front and rear, side airbags at the front, ABS with BA, Active Protection with Attentiveness Assistant, Cornering Braking Control, DSC with DTC and runflat indicator.

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Seats are excellent in support while tranny tunnel limits space for 3rd passenger

The interiors of the BMW 5-Series are an extremely pleasant place to be in

The seats of the BMW 5-Series are very nice to be in, both at the front as well as rear. The seats have ample cushioning and support and are super comfortable. The rear can seat 2 people easily but there is a thick transmission tunnel at the rear which restricts space for a third passenger. The front seats get electrical adjustment and the driver’s seat also gets a memory function. You also get a digital instrument cluster which changes the colour of the display depending on what driving mode you’ve chosen. The 520i also gets BMW’s iDrive system with handwriting recognition, integrated hard drive for maps and audio, Harman Kardon Surround Sound System with 16 speakers, rear view camera and Park Distance Control. The audio system sounds really nice with a good balance of bass and treble. The Park Distance Control is also a super useful feature, especially in crowded areas.

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The 2.0-litre petrol engine generates 184 horses and 270 Nm of twist

Performance – The BMW 520i has a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine under the hood. This powerplant belts out 184 HP of power at 5000 RPM and 270 Nm of twisting force from 1250-4500 RPM. The first thing you notice as soon as you fire up the car is the fact that the engine is so refined and quiet. There is hardly any noise from the engine and the cabin feels super silent and insulated with zero vibrations. Slot the transmission into D and the 520i starts moving effortlessly. It responds to throttle inputs without much delay and keeps trudging comfortably.

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The engine is very smooth and refined, excellent NVH levels

The 2.0-litre petrol engine is refined and has decent performance and efficiency too

Once you step on the gas and go full throttle, you see that there is a slight delay before which the car takes off. You don’t really get pushed back in your seat but the Bimmer does gain pace quickly. The mid-range is pretty strong and the engine has enough punch to go all the way to 5000 RPM, post which power starts tapering down a bit, before hitting the redline at 7000 RPM. The engine isn’t much of a beast though, and performance is just satisfactory. For those who are seeking some thrill, this car isn’t meant for them and they better look at the 530d. However, buyers of the 520i won’t really complain much about the performance since the car is easy to drive in the city and is a great highway cruiser.

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The powerplant is brilliant for cruising down the highways

The petrol engine is mated to the same 8-speed Steptronic gearbox which is found on other BMWs too. The gearbox is super smooth and even comes with a manual mode as well as steering-mounted paddle shifters. Apart from that, you get the usual driving modes like Eco, Comfort, Sport to choose from. Comfort mode works best because performance is pretty decent and the suspension feels plush, while in Eco mode, performance goes down and so does the AC performance by some margin. Sport mode is suited when you want to seek thrills because the engine holds onto higher revs and power is available in an instant. With regular driving in mixed conditions, expect a fuel efficiency of 8 km/l which is decent enough for a car this size. 0-100 km/hr comes up in 7.9 seconds while 100 km/hr in 8th gear comes in at 1400 RPM, making the 520i a terrific cruiser.

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The BMW 5-Series feels as involving to drive as ever

Driving Dynamics – The BMW 5-Series has a very plush ride at low speeds. The suspension gobbles up potholes easily. However, the car does tend to lose some of its composure if you drive over even a slightly broken patch of road at high speeds. However, it remains properly stable on highways. The steering is precise and direct and offers tons of feedback. The 5-Series feels predictable around the twisties and urges you to push more. Do note that the car is pretty large in size and it takes time getting used to. The brakes do a brilliant job of shedding speeds.

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The BMW 520i is a good pick if you don’t want a diesel engine

Verdict – The BMW 5-Series is a very good package in its segment but it is slightly outdated now. The next generation 5 will be launched in India next year. The 520i is a nice choice for someone who likes the refinement and smoothness of a petrol engine and has lower running. It is also very involving to drive and is comfortable too. The 520i is brought down via the CBU route but it costs the same as the top of the line 520d. Hence, if you want a car with a longer range and better performance, you’d be better off with a 520d or 530d. .

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The next generation 5-Series will take the game a notch higher

What’s Cool

* Smoothness, refinement, NVH levels
* Feels very engaging to drive

What’s Not So Cool

* Engine could have had more grunt
* A tad outdated compared to rivals

Alternatives: Audi A6, Mercedes E-Class, Volvo S90, Jaguar XF

Testers’ Note:

“The petrol powered BMW 5-Series doesn’t make much sense over the diesel model as the latter is cheaper to buy and more economical to run. With more torque being produced by the diesel mill, the 520d is as fun to drive as the 520i. However, if refinement is your prime requirement and you want a petrol engine only, it’s the 520i which is better but BMW should have offered a more powerful petrol engine with an M sport body kit to lure enthusiasts.” – Faisal Khan, Chief Editor, MotorBeam.
“The BMW 5-Series is a nice car to drive around but it takes some time getting used to the large size. The 2.0-litre engine isn’t very thrilling and since BMW was bringing the petrol variant via the CBU route, the company could have ideally launched the more powerful petrol engine here. Nonetheless, it is a nice car for people with low running, though I feel that this very same engine will be much more fun on the 3-Series.” – Parth Gohil, Senior Road Tester, MotorBeam.

Further Reading:

BMW 5-Series vs Mercedes E-Class vs Audi A6 vs Jaguar XF
BMW 5-Series 520d Review
BMW 5-Series 530d Review