BMW 520d M-Sport
Fresh face for the new BMW 520d M Sport
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BMW 520d M Sport

What is it?

BMW 5 Series: Faster, lighter and even more efficient, our previous SME Company Car of the year winner is back in new G30 form, majoring on technology and comfort.  We take the expected best-seller, the BMW 520d M-Sport version for a drive to see if it can topple the latest Mercedes E-Class.

What’s hot

  • In 520d form, power comes from a new 187bhp four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel, mated with auto-only eight-speed transmission. It might be a diesel and the fleet favourite, but you certainly won’t feel let down by the performance. Top speed is 146mph, with acceleration to 60mph taking an also impressive 7.5 seconds. With all this performance, economy must suffer, but you’d be wrong as it has an equally impressive 68.1mpg combined fuel figure and 108g/km emission figure. This equals just a 23% tax band for 2017/18.
  • Evolution rather than revolution best sums up the styling of the new G30 5 Series. Almost looking like a scaled-down version of the latest 7 Series – which it effectively is – but there are still some neat features to the design. At the front there’s the latest version of the kidney grille. Now featuring Active Air Stream technology, flaps open to aid engine cooling. The grille itself is now seamlessly connected to the standard LED headlights (or the Adaptive BMW Icon headlights of our test car), which BMW say accentuates the width of the front. At the side there are distinctive upper and lower cutouts to the design, plus a more sculpted look to the iconic Hofmeister Kink rear roof pillar. There are also air breathers for the first time, just behind the front wheel arch, which are designed to smooth the airflow down the side of the car. At the back, you’ll spot the latest 5 by the dual exhaust tail pipes, that are quadrilateral on our M Sport model.
BMW 520d M-Sport
Premium-feel high-tech cabin
  • Inside, the interior of the new 5 Series is a nice place to be. There’s a premium feel to the plastics and trim, which is carried on with the full TFT instruments and dashboard cranked towards the driver in a sporty way. In terms of build quality this BMW feels more than a match to the German opposition – the old Audi A6 and the current benchmark for this sector, the latest Mercedes E-Class. Highlights include that large 10.25-inch screen in the centre of the dash, that’s part of the standard Professional Multimedia Navigation system. BMW’s trademark circular controller can be used to access all the functions, but the optional Technology Pack features clever gesture control, where by simply waving your fingers and hands in front of the centre console, you can adjust the stereo volume, access various menus, accept incoming phone calls and much more. It works really well.
  • The new 5 Series really is a tech fest and If you’d like a few more useful gadgets, we’d recommend the £1,495 Technology Pack that I mentioned above. On top of all the other standard kit, it adds the smartphone-like digital key fob, wireless phone charging, a head-up display, gesture control and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • The driving position is low, comfortable and multi-adjustable and switchgear logically placed. Move to the back and here is where you see the benefit of the longer wheelbase as that extra 7mm of legroom is welcome. Finally, there’s also 10 litres more bootspace at 530 litres.
  • So does the latest 5 Series live up to its ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ tag you’re probably asking? There’s the expected precision in the way this car handles, grip levels are high and body roll almost non-existent. More refined is the 5 Series’ ride, which impressed even more than the handling by being supple and forgiving, despite the sporty feel and 19-inch alloys. You can go further, as our test car was fitted with necessary optional Variable Damper Control (£985), which served up comfort, sport and adaptive modes.
  • Okay, even in M Sport form, the 520d isn’t cheap, but it does come with an impressive level of standard safety kit including six airbags, stability control, Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection – to reduce the chances of you accidentally running into the car in front. Optional safety kit includes a lane-departure warning system, automatic high-beam assist for the headlights, a driver fatigue detector and speed limit recognition.
  • One of the most impressive options we tried, was the advanced autonomous driving set-up, which is part of the Driving Assistance Package. This, via the Adaptive Cruise Control, has the ability to accelerate, brake and steer the car at speeds of up to 130mph. It works brilliantly but it does require you to keep touching the steering wheel to tell it that you’re awake and paying attention. It can also park itself too!
  • What’s not 
  • In M Sport trim, the 520d is almost ‘the ultimate driving machine’, but we thought the engine was a bit coarse at low revs and the steering lacked feel.
  • The new eight-speed automatic gearbox is a smooth operator, but on the move it feels like it’s constantly changing gear.
  • The 520d even in M Sport trim is so competent and tech-heavy it’s almost dull!

Verdict

In 520d M Sport form, not only is the 5 Series a tech tour de force, but it is a very complete business car. It will be very cheap to run (although the Mercedes E-Class is more efficient) and it’s still great to drive – especially with the needed optional Variable Damper Control. For a BMW, it is also impressively well-equipped, with a substantial level of standard tech.

It is not a perfect car however, we think the engine is noisy at idle, the steering lacks feel and it’s almost so competent that it’s boring!

So how does it compare to its key rival – the Mercedes? Closest model to the 520d M Sport is the E200 d AMG Line 9-speed G-Tronic. The Mercedes is looking good from the start as it’s cheaper by over £1,400. Although for an SME, the emissions and tax band are going to be key and this is where the BMW is stronger, with 108g/km versus 112g/km of the Mercedes, which also means the E220 has a slightly higher 24% tax band for 2017/18 compared to the BMW’s 23%.

The Lowdown on: BMW 520d M-Sport

List price £39,025
Doors and body style 4-door saloon
Engine/gearbox: 2.0-litre diesel/eight-speed automatic transmission
CO2 Emissions: 108g/km
Economy (combined): 68.1mpg
Power/torque: 187bhp/400Nm
0-62mph/top speed: 7.5sec/146mph
Insurance group: 31

 What it Costs:

P11D value £38,970
Road Tax (VED) from April 2017: £140 first year/then £140 p.a.
Company Car Tax Band 2017/18 to 2019/20: 23%, 25%, 28%
Benefit in Kind 2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20: £8.963, £9,743, £10,912
Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%): £1,040/£87
Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%): £2,080/£173
Annual/Monthly Company Car Tax (20%): £1,793/£149
Annual/Monthly Company Car Tax (40%): £3,585/£299

 

BMW 520d M sport distinguishes by the quad exhaust tailpipes

 

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