BMW 5 Series 520d SE
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Mileage 5246 List price £36,815
Target Price £34,482 Price as tested £42,815 Test economy 44.2mpg
THEY SAY YOU don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and I’ve recently realised there’s more than a hint of truth to this. I ran a Volvo S90 before the 5 Series and, in most respects, this time only serves to highlight how much better the BMW is in key areas. However, there is one thing I really miss about the Volvo: its head-up display.
BMW does, of course, offer one of these; it costs £225. But it wasn’t ticked when our car was ordered – a mistake that I’d urge anyone considering a 5 Series to avoid repeating.
While having to look down at the instruments from time to time might not seem like that much of a hardship, in a car that’s as good at shutting out wind, road and engine noise as the latest 5 Series is, it’s actually all too easy for your speed to creep up between glances without you realising. And in the speed camera-infested world that we now live in, that’s obviously a concern.
What makes it worse is the fact that the speedo isn’t particularly boldly marked when the 5 Series is being driven in Normal mode, so checking how quickly you’re driving actually requires more than a glance. The solution is to switch to Sport mode, which not only turns the instruments red, but brings a large digital speed readout. However, you have to do this every time you start the engine, and that’s a pain.
More positively, the Sport setting can be customised, allowing you to have the Sport instrument display but return the suspension, steering and engine to their more comfort-oriented settings if you wish. Personally, I think the 5 Series is at its best when everything but the suspension is set to Sport; the car feels sharp and responsive, while gliding across poorly surfaced roads.
With its quiet ride, it’s easy for your speed to creep up in the 5 Series
Instruments glow red when the 5 Series is in Sport mode