BMW 5 Se­ries 520d SE

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What Car? - - Our Cars - Steve Hunt­ing­ford Steve.hunt­ing­ford@hay­mar­ket.com

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

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