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

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

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lrh 28 September 2011

Re: BMW 520d Efficient Dynamics

Overdrive wrote:

lrh wrote:
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.

I see where you're coming from, but then again high milers pay a lot more fuel tax.

So why have a fixed tax that bears no relation to how much you use the car? Road tax is an utter waste of time that probably costs more to administer than it raises.

ordinary bloke 27 September 2011

Re: BMW 520d Efficient Dynamics

il sole wrote:
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??!!!
Because the "saviour" of the world economy, Gordon Brown (what's happened to him, by the way ?), decided in his infinite wisdom that Britons should set a good example to the rest of the world so that they would inevitably follow our example. Rather than make such actions voluntary to those who, supposedly, he was representing, he deliberately forced up the cost of motoring to achieve this unobtainable goal. The whole politically correct "let's lower CO2 and save the world" thing is a complete nonsense of course if the most highly polluting nations like China and India just ignore the call to arms and allow their emissions to increase unchecked. I was interested to see on the new Dimbleby TV series on South America that Venezuelans (I think it was) pay only the equivalent of 2p per litre for petrol as the government there has subsidised it to attract votes - perhaps we need more of that kind of thinking by our own political parties !!

il sole 27 September 2011

Re: BMW 520d Efficient Dynamics

sportwagon wrote:

You can hardly blame BMW or the people who buy or lease their cars for exploiting the system to get a car that by sounding good on paper saves them money. Also HMRC don't set the tax rates, they merely collect what the regulations say that that have to.

The blame for all this nonsense can be firmly set on the shoulders of one man, George Osborne. He is the chancellor and he sets the tax rates; he is obviously more interested in pandering to the tree-huggers and looking good in front of his European mates than living in the real world.

here here. however, it's not just osborne, it's all the rest before him too. As ever with politicians, if there's a bandwagon, they all want to get on it!