From £29,250
The BMW 520D Efficient Dynamics offers a compelling mix of performance and economy, but needs options for a more luxury feel

Our Verdict

BMW 5 Series

The BMW 5 Series offers a compelling blend of all-round abilities, but wants specifying carefully

  • First Drive

    2017 BMW 530d xDrive review

    All-new BMW 5 Series shows a broader set of abilities than before on our early prototype drive across demanding Welsh roads
  • First Drive

    BMW 520d SE Saloon Auto review

    Buying a 5-series was always a no-brainer, and this facelift has cemented its place at the top of the executive class
22 September 2011

What is it?

An executive saloon with a supermini’s CO2 emissions is something unusual, and the 520d Efficient Dynamics’ tax-saving ways will shortly make it the best-selling 5-series.

Like the smaller 320d ED, its frugality does not force a performance compromise. So it’ll do 144mph and, more usefully, hit 62mph in 8.2sec. You can only have the 520d ED as a manual saloon and without the M Sport upgrades favoured by many, but these sacrifices are small for the gains made.

What's it like?

BMW has won the gains with taller gearing, an active radiator cooling flap, stop-start, an intelligent alternator and more streamlined wheels. More subtly, the engine has a special centrifugal pendulum vibration absorber, which allows it to pull improbably low revs in high gears without provoking a grumbling vibro-massage through seat, pedals and gearlever.

It works, too, in tandem with a new Eco-Pro drive mode that encourages fuel-saving gearchanges into sixth from as little as 1500rpm. This mode is accessed via what BMW grandly describes as a Driving Experience Control switch, whose simultaneous adjustments of throttle response, ESP settings, steering resistance and automatic transmission shiftings produce Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and the aforementioned fuel-saving mode, which alters the functionality of the air conditioning and assorted electrical items to lower their energy demands.

Also provided are in-dash economy and gearshift indicators and a bar graph that shows fuel consumption history and also provides driving tips. These are a bit basic – 'moderate your acceleration' appears when you’re doing the opposite – but they can provoke some fuel-saving guilt.

Or you can ignore all this and enjoy the 520d as a subtly accomplished sports saloon of considerable refinement, the more so if you order the optional variable dampers, which yield the more connected sensations you’d expect from a car of lightly sporting intentions.

Should I buy one?

If you can bear the benefit-in-kind implications, there will be other options boxes you’ll want to tick too, but even without them this 520d makes a mighty impressive combination of performance, economy, civility and space.

BMW 520d Efficient Dynamics

Price: £30,435; Top speed: 144mph; 0-62mph: 8.2sec; Economy: 62.8mpg (combined); CO2: 119g/km; Kerb weight: 1695kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1995cc, turbodiesel; Power: 182bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 280lb ft at 1750-2750rpm; Gearbox: 6-speed manual

Join the debate

Comments
27

jer

26 September 2011

Remarkable but in the real world where we do not change into 6th at 1500 rpm maybe the standard car with auto and adjustable dampers is better for all but the most penny concious. Also has it lost a bunch of torques?

26 September 2011

An excellently efficient BMW again, managing excellent economy and superb CO2 figures with sacrificing performance.

26 September 2011

[quote jer]has it lost a bunch of torques?[/quote]

According to Autocar's data table it has but it's actually got the same 380Nm as the regular 520d. A very nicely resolved eco-exec which will sell by the thousand.


26 September 2011

[quote bomb]A very nicely resolved eco-exec which will sell by the thousand[/quote] and so it should, until that is, they change the stupid rules for both measuring emissions and stop penalising (read tax) for them.

Have any of you got November's Car magazine yet? it's got the best ever 'M' cars on the front...well, inside they've got CO2 figures for various countries, and whilst we're all paying through the noses for not driving a diesel eco box and have reduced the UK's Co2 output over the last year, China's increased, and by quite a lot. If i remember rightly, they produce more than double the US. so why do we have to pay so much over here for making such paltry gains in the face of massive increases eleswhere??!!! it just makes me really angry! if we are to believe that we will face problems in the future, then why doesn't the whole world act together??!!!

I'm sure the 520d is an admirable car, but i'd much rather have the 535i

26 September 2011

This is a great engine, but I find it hard to see why they haven't put it in the estate. As I've said before this engine would be terrific in a Mini, or a 1-Series for that matter; maybe even the X1 and X3.

26 September 2011

Also provided are in-dash economy and gearshift indicators and a bar graph that shows fuel consumption history and also provides driving tips.

If I wanted the car to make decisions on gearshifts I'd buy an automatic - more distracting cr*p on the dash.

Otherwise figures look great.

26 September 2011

[quote Fidji]I find it hard to see why they haven't put it in the esta[/quote]

The 5 Series Touring generally adds 5 g/km over the saloon for the same engine. the 520ED achieves 119 g/km so a Touring equivalent would lose this USP as it would cost more in tax by invariably being over the 120 g/km barrier.


26 September 2011

It never ceases to amaze me that this is as desirable as an M5 used to be to the majority of people now-a-days. How the world of motoring has changed.

As a package though it probably is the most complete car in it's class.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

lrh

26 September 2011

So cars like this, pounding the motorways (30k miles a year @ 40 real-world mpg) pay virtually no road tax and my car (which makes a few short trips at weekends) is hit for £460 a year. Road tax is an absolute joke right now.

26 September 2011

[quote il sole]we're all paying through the noses for not driving a diesel eco box and have reduced the UK's Co2 output over the last year, China's increased, and by quite a lot. If i remember rightly, they produce more than double the US. so why do we have to pay so much over here for making such paltry gains in the face of massive increases eleswhere??!!! it just makes me really angry! if we are to believe that we will face problems in the future, then why doesn't the whole world act together??!!![/quote]

China produces more than the US, but not double. Perhaps not surprising given that China has a higher population - it's a bigger country. In terms of you being angry about the whole world not acting together - you do realise that China's per capita emissions of CO2 are half those of the UK, and around a quarter of the USA? So it's us that needs to work to get down to their levels, not the other way around. I imagine the average Chinese is quite angry at complacent Westerners whining about being taxed so they can drive around in luxury limos. I don't suppose you're prepared to swap for their standard of living?

In terms of the whole world pulling together, China invests the most in renewable energy. Measured as a proportion of GDP, they invest the same as us. I think your criticism and xenophobic rant is misplaced.

Back on topic: the 520d looks superb and shows what can be achieved. Shame it has a manual gearbox though.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run