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BMW 5 Series Review: BMW 5 Series 520d First Drive Review

BMW 5 Series 520d First Drive Review

By Ninad Ambre; 31st August, 2017
Introduction

BMW launched the India-made 5 Series luxury sedan in June this year. This 520d is one amongst the three trims launched, with 530i and 530d being the other two. The 530i is the sole petrol model, while the latter is the more powerful oil-burner. However, it's this 520d that makes for a major part of the 5 Series' sales. So we decided to take this luxury line trim for a quick spin. We will find out how it stacks up against its rivals in the segment.

Exterior

The 2017 BMW 5 Series is both larger and lighter than the outgoing sedan. All thanks to BMW's latest Cluster Architecture platform, which also underpins the new 7 Series.

The design cues have been borrowed from this flagship too. Apart from a few elements, it’s hard to differentiate between the two sedans. But then that’s a good thing. The 5 has evolved and looks mature especially in this luxury trim. The chrome-lined BMW kidney grille and other dashes of bling are tastefully done.

The LED headlamps are sleeker and the DRLs have lost their circular shape. It's more hexagonal this time. On the sides, you will notice that the car rides on big 18-inch wheels. But these look small due to the large body of the car. At the back, the LED tail lamps are nicely detailed. Again, the minimal use of chrome is good enough to justify its premium positioning rather than going overboard. Overall the 5 Series doesn't have that head-turning appearance, but the looks will grow on you over time.

Interior

BMW has made sure the new 5's cabin exudes luxury and is packed with new-gen gizmos. The dashboard and centre console design are clearly a reflection of the 7 Series interior.

Seating on the electronically adjustable driver seat is low. Yet, frontal visibility is good. Though there isn't adjustable lumbar support, the seats are large and accommodating. These are draped in Dakota leather and not Nappa like in the sport trim. Nonetheless, they don’t fall short in providing comfort and look elegant. Ergonomics are good too with all the controls remaining within the reach of the driver's arm. The seats are nicely cushioned in the second row as well.

For just two occupants, the second row has good knee room and thigh support. However, even if a third person can fit in, the other two might be a little uncomfortable. Nonetheless, the generous headroom and the panoramic sunroof adds much to the sense of space. Also, the 520 litres boot space is generous enough to accommodate large bags, despite having a space-saver neatly tucked underneath.


Several features from the flagship car have trickled down to the 5 Series. These include the new gesture control for the infotainment system and remote parking function with key fob. Both of these are an eye-catching novelty, but it is unclear how many buyers will actually make use of these functions. Preset gestures can control the high-resolution 10.25 inch screen. However, it’s easier when used via the iDrive controller or the remote control.

Furthermore, this display is connected to a 600 Watt, 16-speaker Harmon Kardon system satisfying all your infotainment needs. Even if this trim misses the heads-up display, it gets a new wireless phone charging tray and the very practical 360-degree cameras and sensors. They give a nice all-round view of such a big car and add to the convenience while parking. On the safety front too, the 5 Series is loaded to the brim. The safety features include six airbags, ABS with brake assist and dynamic braking lights. Additionally, there's park distance control, traction control, stability control and cornering brake control too. All of this makes sure you are cocooned safely in the luxury sedan.

Performance

Unlike the 530d’s 3.0-litre motor that belts out 262bhp and 620Nm of torque, the 520d is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel mill that produces 188bhp and 400Nm of torque. At first glance, the 520d’s figures may seem to be a bit of a dampener, however, we didn't write it off just yet. When I cranked the motor, I was pleasantly surprised to find this engine to be quite silent. There were hardly any vibrations and the pristine sound insulation makes for a pleasant drive all the time. It’s only post 2,000rpm and at the top of the rev band that the diesel motor becomes audible. Even then, it isn't unpleasant at all. The power delivery may not be aggressive, but the 520d’s rev-happy engine gathers up speed rather briskly thanks to it packing a nice mid-range punch. The eight-speed automatic transmission is well-tuned for quick and smooth gear changes. And if more performance is required, you can still use the gear lever or paddle-shifters. A downshift and loads of usable torque will help you quickly sprint while overtaking.


Now let's delve into the details of the driving modes. There are four of them - eco pro, comfort, sport and adaptive. I started off with the eco pro and understood that the leisurely power output was due to the system trying to extract the maximum fuel efficiency from the powerplant. The comfort mode, on the other hand, ensured a better throttle response. This got sharper in the Sport mode. The best part of this mode, is that it lets you rev till 4,000rpm before automatically shifting gears. And all of this is quick, but still in an unhurried manner and without jerks. Then the adaptive mode, as the name suggests, did a good job in adjusting to the throttle responses. A gentle tap on the gas pedal is all that's needed for the car to easily gather speed.


The steering on the 520d feels light while cutting through traffic, and also responds quickly to steering inputs when you’re going fast around bends. This luxury sedan comes with an adaptive suspension with independent damping for each wheel as standard. As a result, the suspension adjusts itself in different driving modes. This is evident in the comfort mode as broken roads and rough patches were taken into the car’s stride easily. The soft tuning also meant that there is some slight side-to-side movement of occupants, but not to discomforting levels. The damping is good and felt similar in the adaptive mode too. At higher speeds there is some floating motion which immediately disappeared with the sport mode on. The car felt more composed and was fun to chuck around corners with the increase in pace. And thats impressive for such a long car. The Pirelli tyres offer superior grip which in turn gives the user more confidence to go faster. Braking power, too, felt sufficient enough to stop this 1690kg car.

Tech specs
Make BMW
Model 5 Series
Fuel Diesel
Variant 520d Luxury Line
Engine Capacity 2.0-litre
Max. Power (bhp@rpm) 188bhp @ 4,000
Max. torque (Nm@rpm) 400Nm @ 1,750
Gears  Eight
Length mm 4936
Width mm 1868
Height mm 1479
Wheelbase mm 2975
Fuel Capacity (in litres) 65
Tyre size 245/45 R18
Features
Features  
6 Airbags Yes
18-inch fifteen-spoke alloy wheels Yes
Eight-speed gearbox Yes
Ambient Lighting Yes
Different driving modes Yes
Dakota leather upholstery Yes
Competition
Specifications BMW
5 Series
Mercedes Benz
E-Class
Variant 520d Luxury Line C 220d
Fuel Diesel Diesel
Engine Capacity 2.0-litre 2.0-litre
Max. Power (bhp) 188bhp @ 4,000 192bhp @ 3,800
Max. torque (Nm) 400Nm @ 1,750 400Nm @ 1,600
Gears  8 9
Length mm 4936 5063
Width mm 1868 1860
Height mm 1479 1494
Wheelbase mm 2975 3079
Fuel Capacity (in litres) 64 80
Tyre size 245/45 R18 245/45 R17
Conclusion

The new BMW 5 Series looks elegant and has new features, which its predecessor missed. It drives well and also offers the comfort and luxury you would expect from a chauffeur-driven car. Still if the latter is your primary need, the 5 doesn't come anywhere close to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. After all, the E-Class is the only long wheelbase model in this segment. Nonetheless, at Rs 53.6 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi), the new 5 Series still has sufficient kit to compete against the Audi A6, the Jaguar XF and the Volvo S90 in our country.

 

Pictures by Kapil Angane