BMW 520d: Luxury limousine, but more affordable
BMW’s 520d, reviewed here, is a 5-series car powered by a comparatively modest 190hp, 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel motor. And at Rs53.60 lakh (ex-showroom), this Luxury Line variant is a significant Rs7 lakh cheaper than the V6-powered 530d M-Sport and is expected to be the car that will account for the majority of sales.
But does this make it any less a luxury limousine?
What sets the 520d apart from the pricier variant is the more subtle 18-inch alloy wheels, all the chrome bits on the front and rear bumpers, and the simpler body kit.
Equipment-wise, though it’s a little short of the M-Sport variant, BMW has ensured that the less-powerful diesel is packed with features. It comes with the i-Drive infotainment system, with touch-screen, gesture control, touch-pad and click-wheel operation. It offers digital dials, 360-degree cameras, hands-free parking, four-zone climate control, leather seats, paddle shifters and a sunroof. You even get the cool, remote parking feature that lets you move the car from outside.
Sadly, while the front seats are electrically adjustable and get a memory function on the driver’s seat to remember the adjustments, adjustability is limited; there isn’t even adequate lumbar support. Still, the seats are big and comfortable.
The rear seats are supremely comfortable. You no longer have to sit as low as you did in the previous 5-series, and there is ample kneeroom as well as headroom. Of course, space and comfort are no match for what you get in the long-wheelbase Mercedes E-class, but judged on its own, the space at the back of the 5-series is very good.
This motor is the same 190hp, 2.0-litre diesel found in the 3-series and the new X1. However, this is the quietest the engine has been thus far. There is a mild clatter once you’re past 2,000 rpm, but if you drive unhurriedly it remains pretty smooth, with the eight-speed automatic transmission shifting up early and silently.
Performance feels pretty brisk, albeit nowhere near as strong as the 265hp 530d, of course. Four driving modes—Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Adaptive—alter the car’s driving characteristics to suit your need. Special mention must be made of the Adaptive mode, which does a genuinely good job of reading your throttle and steering inputs and adjusting the car to the driving style. The power delivery feels a bit sluggish in the Eco Pro mode, while the middle, Comfort mode offers enough pep for a sudden overtake move. And in the Sport mode, the car never feels too aggressive when accelerating or shifting gears, but still delivers a fun driving experience. If you do want to be aggressive, simply tap the gear lever to the left—that is enough to liven up the car’s responses and gearshifts. The engine revs more freely, and you can even take control of the gearbox via the steering-mounted paddle shifters.
Appreciably, the 5-series comes with adjustable/adaptive suspension as standard, a feature usually reserved only for top-specification models in this segment. The Comfort mode certainly cushions you better from rough sections of road. As for handling, the new 5 is much better than last year’s cars. The steering is sharper, and the adaptive suspension allows you to change the character of the car to suit your driving mood.
The new BMW 520d, then, is a great all-rounder that can satisfy all your luxury needs, and also put a smile on your face when you get behind the wheel.
Clearly, it’s BMW’s bid to bring driving pleasure back to this segment and give owners a heavy dose of equipment. And though it’s packed to the brim with features, some of which can be seen in the costlier 7-series, prices haven’t gone up that much.