ICING ON THE ENTREE
BMW 520d has clever tech, savvy performance
TRY too hard to please everyone and the results can be unpleasant. BMW’s newest 5 Series takes this approach and just about gets away with it.
It is most driver-focused prestige sedan in town, interior decidedly more upmarket than the previous model and electronics approach artificial intelligence.
By way of example adaptive cruise control uses 17 sensors six cameras to scan the road keep the car in its lane with “autonomous” driving for up to 30 seconds at a stretch.
Really clever “look me” features, such as remote control parking, still require few ticks on the options sheet but even entry level 520d tested here has a head-up display, 10.2-inch infotainment screen, surround-view camera and the ability to use smartphone app heat or cool
interior before driver gets into vehicle.
All that tech isn’t cheap as the 520d starts at $93,900 on-road costs, against $84,800 for the previous model. I’d invest another $2150 in adaptive dampers and that’s about it.
Those who insist on being seen with all toys should drop $2100 the Innovations pack, bundling a display key (it has an in-built screen), gesture control (which works intermittently) for such functions as audio volume and accepting/ending a call, along with the remote parking. They’re party tricks you’ll use occasionally to impress friends rather than essential features but it gives you an indication of how seriously car brands research the latest tech try to gain a competitive advantage.
The 530L boot is built take numerous golf bags and all seats are comfortable places perch with decent head legroom.
ON THE ROAD
The 5 Series isn’t as isolated from its environment its direct rivals and for some, that’s a bonus. It doesn’t iron out the bumps so much modulate them, giving driver more feedback at the expense of minor movements in cabin.
Performance from the 2.0-litre diesel is impressive and akin to a tugboat shifting a freighter — it doesn’t seem possible but happens anyway.
The eight-speed automatic shares bragging rights here, seamlessly shifting up and down regardless of the load on the accelerator contributing to
520d feeling more sprightly than its 7.5-second run to triple figures suggests. It’s no sports sedan — the 540i and M5 fill that role but balanced chassis makes it an engaging car pilot.
Turn 5 Series into a corner steering conveys every twitch from front tyres. Grip is great — you’re going to be really unlucky or ragingly overconfident to run out of adhesion.
Thirst, or the lack thereof, is a big part 520d’s appeal. We logged 5.2L/100km with some solid driving, against an official claim of 4.3L.
Cabin insulation is a highlight, the diesel rarely intruding on chat on freeway drives. The build quality everything you’d expect from BMW costing nearly $100K. The interior, though refined, can’t match the latest Mercedes E-Class.
latter’s info screen, embedded in dash, is rather more slick than Beemer’s tablet-style display.
As an entree into the 5 Series range, 520d is all you need to impress, particularly if driving dynamics are priority. It’s not going to tear up the tarmac but will exit car with a satisfied smile.