We test 520d. The BMW with all the kudos, but none of that baggage.

The latest BMW 520d may be more of the same old same old. In fact many may not even differentiate it. Even though this sharper, more angular and crisper car is indeed a surprising step up. Once you look closely, that is.

520d benefited a lockdown makeover

The medium sedan from Munich of course benefited a lockdown makeover. It got a fresh look and a raft of tech updates across the board. Its set apart by a fresh grimace courtesy of a sharper new BMW kidney grille. Add slimmer Adaptive LED matrix headlights with optional laser lights up front and 3D cluster taillights aft. You can finish your Five in a choice of fresh hues and new light-alloy wheel options too. From 18 to an innovative set of new 20-inchers.

There is course the Ferrari killer M5 Competition. But this model, while it still certainly looks the part, is aimed at the less flamboyant. Under the skin you’ll find the latest specification of BMW’s eternally evolved diesel four-pot churning a handy 140kW and a creamy 400Nm out through the rear axle. BMW says this turbodiesel 520d will rush to 100 km/h in 7.9 seconds and top 235 km/h.

That’s a lie. We managed far closer to seven-second dead in our road tests. To be precise, the BMW 520d is good for a quick 7.3 seconds to 100 km/h and a most elastic 5.5 second 80 to 120 km/h pull. In other words, 520d totally defies any thoughts of a puny engine in a lumbering car. BMW further claims it sip a Euro 6d emissions compliant 5.2 l/100 km at 137 g/km. That one you can believe. Which is why, no matter what anyone says, we still love our diesels.

Lightweight FEEL comes through

The latest Five of course carries its lightweight advantages over. That comes through on the road. You feel the diet the moment you drive it – it’s deft, agile and responsive, easy on the wheel. As good as the best of the brilliant Three series on the road. And that applies as much to this two-litre turbodiesel as it does to the top of the range.

Inside, the latest Five still adheres to that original iDrive ethos, with the added convenience of voice and gesture controls all tucked into a complex, multifaceted cabin. Ours had the optional star wars 12.3-inch Control Display versus the standard 10.25-inch screen, automatic climate control. An all-new multifunction sports leather steering wheel does duty. With newly arranged multifunction buttons.

And Android Auto joins Apple CarPlay with enhanced WiFi connectivity and control and Remote Software Upgrading too. Being a test unit, ours also packed optional Integral Active Steering among its raft of latest driver assistance. That now includes Lane Departure with lane return function. Add intelligent new cloud-based Active Navigation with 3D visualisation. And the parking system now gets a reversing assistant too.

All the kudos. but not the baggage

So, this is a perfect solution if you want the kudos, but don’t want the baggage in a BMW. Most people will think is far more than it really is. Yet it delivers far more too. And then some. So much so that we’d say this little 520d with all the trimmings is certainly worth a look. – Michele Lupini

Images & data – Giordano Lupini

Engine: 140kW 400Nm 1995cc turbodiesel I4
Drive: 8-speed automatic RWD
0-60 km/h:        3.04 sec
0-100 km/h:       7.29 sec
0-120 km/h:       10.38 sec
0-160 km/h:       19.18 sec
400m:             15.2 sec @ 144km/h
80-120 km/h:      5.45 sec
120-160 km/h:     8.80 sec
VMax:             235 km/h
Fuel:             5.2 l/100 km
CO2:              137 g/km
Warranty/Service: 2y Unl./5y 100K km
LIST PRICE:       R1.049M
RATED:            8
Tagged with: