Fresh from our extended drive with the popular F30 320d, we had an opportunity to experience the F10 BMW 520d which actually shares the same powerplant albeit in a larger platform. This 520d is the first diesel powered 5 Series we have had driven so far and to make it doubly interesting, this is also the first 4 cylinder engine 5 Series that we have tested.
Pending the facelift of the F10, externally, there are no differences in the appearance of this test model compared to the earlier 523i which we had tested in late 2011. Nevertheless, unlike the more basic diesel powered F30 320d, the specs offered for this diesel powered 520d is more comprehensive and appealing.
For a start the car is equipped with the Navigation System Professional (GPS) which was missing in the F30 320d. The LCD display is also of good size at 10.2 inches and I noted that there is a software (firmware) update for the iDrive in this model.
The Park Distance Control, a pictorial display with acoustic warning tones to assist parking through tight spaces have also been updated with a more attractive graphical representation of the car. This time the car in the LCD screen actually looks like an F10 BMW rather than a generic looking vehicle.
Other graphic enhancements were also seen in the iDrive display. Some of the key highlights include a more upbeat looking display for radio stations. There is also a ‘cover flow’ style display for some of the submenu which is useful as it is not easy to recollect the previous menu buried under a slew of multiple menus.
Surprisingly, with the updated graphics all over the place, the navigation system professional (GPS) still showed the old flat two dimensional display. Perhaps I was expecting too much too soon, hopefully in the near future we can have more lifelike displays for the GPS.
For this model, the interior was a bit too dark for my liking. I would have preferred a contrast between the panels, dashboard and the leathers. Fit and finishing for this test model is good. The leather steering wheel is adjustable electronically either upwards/downwards or inward/outward via an electronic switch on the left side.
The front seats are adjustable electronically as well, and for the driver there is a memory function (buttons on the lower part of the driver’s door). Safety features are comprehensive, and you will get multiple airbags, ABS, traction control, brake assist, inertia-reel seat belts, active headrests and ISOFIX attachments.
A new feature which I noticed in this car was a speed limiter activated via the ‘LIM’ button for the cruise control. This is a very useful feature particularly in places where there is a lot of speed traps. This limiter will lock in max speed allowed, ensuring that even with your overenthusiastic feet, you will still not go beyond the preset max speed limit. If required, this setting can still be overridden during ’emergency’ situations when extra speed is required by flooring the accelerator.
Powering this 520d is the same 4 cylinder 1,995cc N47 diesel engine which was also in the F30 320d. Performance is more or less similar; ie max output of 135(kW)/184(hp) @ 4,000rpm and max torque of 380(Nm) @ 1,750-2,750rpm. CO² emissions are 123g/km and complies to the EU3 standards.
Not surprisingly with a larger platform, the century sprint (0-100km/h) is slower than the F30 320d at 8.1 sec. Transmission is an 8-speed automatic with options for steptronic, operational via the gearshift. There are no pedal shifters for this model.
Green features include brake energy regeneration, an automatic start/stop function and the ECO PRO mode under the Dynamic Driving Control. The parking brake is activated via a push button. The auto hold (Auto H) button below it is to ‘lock’ the car from rolling forward/backward. This feature is useful during slow crawls at sloping roads.
Insulation and refinement is a step up from the F30 320d. The diesel engine is still very much audible externally but inside the cabin it is a bit more muted. I had envisaged that having the N47 diesel engine maybe a bit of a stretch for this car. However, things turned out okay thoughtout the entire test drive. The substantial torque output helps and I think anything less would have felt a bit sluggish on this car.
During idling, there was a need to get accustomed to the more prominent engine note and vibration. This was due to our previous experience whereby the 5 Series cars that we tested were all powered by 6 cylinder engines, offering better refinement, little vibration and much smoother idling.
Ride quality is excellent. At the ‘Comfort’ (default mode) and ECO PRO mode under the Dynamic Driving/Damping Control, the car coped well with a variety of road conditions in Kuala Lumpur. The other ‘Comfort +’ mode was too soft for me and I avoided it altogether. The ‘SPORT’ and ‘SPORT +’ are firmer settings to be engaged when you wish to have more involvement in driving the car.
Acceleration speed off the mark is adequate for this car. For overtaking, it would be best to stick to the default COMFORT mode or higher (SPORT, SPORT+). Generally there was no lag in response and inputs at the throttle were transmitted relatively quickly by the powertrain to the wheels. The stock tyres are 17 inch Goodyear run flats (225/55R 17).
With a light steering, maneuvering this car is a breeze. My preference would be a slightly narrower turning circle to facilitate this longer platform due to the generally tight roads and spaces in a place like Kuala Lumpur. Turning into the ‘SPORT’ and ‘SPORT+’ under the Dynamic Dirivng/Damping Control mode gave a firmer steering feel.
After hitting the 5,000km mark, we recorded an average fuel consumption of around 6.7 liters per 100 km driving at ECO PRO and COMFORT modes. This was well above the claimed 4.7 liters per 100 km in the brochure. Nevertheless, this was still an impressive figure as I was expecting a much higher rate of consumption since the engine has to support a larger platform. BMW has engineered the car well and optimized it to perform efficiently despite using a smaller diesel engine.
The boot swings open on its own once you depress the boot switch either from the cabin or from the keys. This is a good feature to have especially when both your hands are occupied carrying cargo. Unfortunately, there is no provision for a 60:40 seat fold down. This would have given more flexibility to transit longer items.
ICE system is facilitated by a 12 loudspeaker 205w system. The rich and full sound emanating from the speakers suits a variety of music. There is an integrated owner’s manual inside the iDrive system, providing graphical and animated elaborations. Other available multimedia interfaces include a USB port, mobile phone dock, Bluetooth and a 12 GB hard disk for storage of audio files.
Similar to the F30 320d, the excellent fuel efficiency offered by the F10 520d makes it a top choice for those who accumulate significant mileage and are seeking a mid to large luxury diesel powered sedan. The F10 520d will suit those who are seeking more room, better refinement and improved specs over the relatively basic F30 320d.
|Full Tank:||70 litres @ RM140 (Euro 2M Diesel)|
|Standard Service:||Free service for first 3 years|
|Warranty:||3 Years or 60,000km whichever is earlier|
These are estimated costs applicable to Malaysia only which are subject to change without notice. Road Tax is for private registration in Peninsular Malaysia. Standard/scheduled service excludes additional or specific service/repairs requested. Please reconfirm these terms and costs with an authorized BMW dealer.
|Engine:||BMW Twin Power Turbo four-cylinder diesel engine|
|Max Output:||135 kW (184hp) @ 4,000 rpm|
|Max Torque:||380 Nm @ 1,750-2,750 rpm|
|Top Speed:||225 km/h|
|Acceleration 0-100km:||8.1 sec|
|Fuel Consumption:||4.7 litres per 100 km (combined)|
Source: BMW Brochure
Note: Please reconfirm the above specifications with an authorized BMW dealer
Click on these to sample sounds from the car!