From £29,250
A bit dull but still an impressively complete package

Our Verdict

BMW 5 Series

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

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    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

What is it?

Vital, apart from anything else. You don’t need me to tell you how important the 181bhp 520d is. Not only for BMW but also for the many thousands of drivers that face the next few years behind its thick-rimmed steering wheel. Company car sales alone are likely to account for up to 8000 units in the first year if 2009 figures are anything to go by.

What’s it like?

The good news is that the four-pot engine, which manages a class-leading 129g/km of CO2 and 57.6mpg, is a pleasant motor to use. It can become gruff if pushed very hard but in general it has plenty of punch for overtaking and never feels overwhelmed by the 1625kg kerbweight, settling into an easy lull for cruising around at motorway and urban speeds.

You’ll have to work the gearbox a bit for fast progress – many will opt for the £1495 eight-speed automatic - but the manual has the typically tight BMW shift so it’s no chore to use.

Nor is it a chore to sit back and relax in the 520d. Our test car rode on 18-inch alloys and run-flat tyres, and also came fitted with £965 worth of adaptive dampers, which adjust continuously but are also affected by the four ‘Dynamic Drive Control’ settings. With all this fitted the 5-series never feels uncomfortable. A tad fidgety in Sport mode, yes, but it never loses its composure and in default ‘Normal’ setting, occupants are well isolated from the road’s surface and the 5 settles into a happy blend of balanced body control and pliant damping.

The only real disappointment is the steering. It isn’t something that is likely to bother those looking to the 520d purely for its practicality, but it is too inconsistent and vague to satisfy the many hoping for a sharp steer. It’s weighted well enough that it won’t prevent a driver from enjoying the 520d, but it certainly lacks any real sensation.

Should I buy one?

Yes. It may not be about to set any new benchmarks for driver reward, nor is it particularly exciting.

But this is easily one of the most appealing cars in its class, not only because of its low emissions and tax rating, but also because it is competitively priced and equipped, has a great interior, pleasant handling and excellent refinement.

A bit dull, but still one of the most complete packages around.

BMW 520d SE

Price: £28,045; Top speed: 141mph; 0-62mph 8.1sec; Economy 57.6mpg; CO2: 129g/km; Kerbweight: 1625kg; Engine type: 1995cc, 4cyl in-line, turbodiesel; Power: 181bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 280lb ft at 1900-2750rpm; Gearbox: 6spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
19

27 July 2010

Has the UK motoring media had a rocket up its arse from 'The Germans' recently?

First the knock me down with a feather positive review of a German car(the Touareg/Touareg Racer) on Gerry-hater Clarkson's Top Gear this week and now two reviews from Autocar, on the A7 and this 5-series, which seem if anything over-kind in their praise. Have the Germans finally snapped and carpeted someone at TG, Haymarket et al reminding them who pays the bills and keeps the whole bloody show on the road essentially?

27 July 2010

This BMW looks cheap, take a Golf GTD and add leather and rear side airbags and you have a car only £1500 cheaper than this 5 series BMW. Why would you ever buy the Golf? I think these will sell very well.

27 July 2010

Finally a proper review on a BMW, although most points mentioned in this review mirrors reports on the Volvo S60/S80 I doubt we will ever see "A bit dull, but still one of the most complete packages around." on any other review bar BMW.

27 July 2010

i have seen autocars biases increase towards british cars over the last few months

27 July 2010

Poor steering, a fidgety ride, engine a bit gruff, gearbox needs working, and a bit dull, but good on a motorway, sounds like a roadtest for the Vectra...Ultimate driving reps machine.

27 July 2010

[quote Citytiger]

Poor steering, a fidgety ride, engine a bit gruff, gearbox needs working, and a bit dull, but good on a motorway, sounds like a roadtest for the Vectra...Ultimate driving reps machine.

[/quote] Clearly you don't like the car, but that's no reason for such a gross distortion of the review. The ride is only a "tad" fidgety in "sports" mode, otherwise it's excellent, with (and I quote): " a happy blend of balance body control and pliant damping". The gruffness of the engine occurs only when "pushed very hard", not uncommon with a new engine that hasn't loosened up yet. And where on earth did you get the idea the gearbox needs work, when the review says it's no chore to use? You obviously don't care for the marque, but BMW's engine/gearbox combos are among the best in the business.

The only let down is the steering, but then we're talking about an economical exec mile muncher, not a point to point sports car. And in any case, the ride/handling is otherwise excellent. And all despite the fact that Autocar, in its other reviews, has played down the all round strengths of the new 5 compared with most other reviews I've read.

27 July 2010

It lacks only 2 pots.

Irritating these press cars with many options...

27 July 2010

[quote PhilM4000]This BMW looks cheap, take a Golf GTD and add leather and rear side airbags and you have a car only £1500 cheaper than this 5 series BMW. Why would you ever buy the Golf? I think these will sell very well.[/quote]

I am no fan of BMWs, which always appear expensive and under equipped.

But this does look like good value, has decent performance, and whilst it may not set any new benchmarks at this price and with low emissions its bound to sell. And yes, it does make the Golf look very expensive

28 July 2010

[quote PhilM4000]This BMW looks cheap, take a Golf GTD and add leather and rear side airbags and you have a car only £1500 cheaper than this 5 series BMW. Why would you ever buy the Golf? I think these will sell very well.[/quote]

You make a very good point,this makes the golf look insanely pricey!! But remember that this car as tested (it seems) has two options bringing the price to just over 30k.

1495 for the auto box and 965 for adaptive dampers. 28,045 is an insanely reasonable price for a very complete package and a handsome 5 series. I hated the styling of the last model!!!!!

Back to a V8 for the M5 mmmm cant wait for that beast!!

28 July 2010

[quote kevin2010]28,045 is an insanely reasonable price for a very complete package and a handsome 5 series.[/quote]

it's gotta be a loss-leader. BMW have the pockets to see this one out. Mercedes have too - reported today Daimler expects €6bn profit this year. Has Tata got likewise? Or will the Deutsch trio - new A6 out next spring - do for the XF before it gets its 4 cyl. diesel?

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