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BMW 520d SE saloon: Test Drive Review

Date: 06 August 2010   |   Author:

Category: Executive
P11D price: £27,990
Key rival: Mercedes E-class

The entry diesel version of BMW's new 5-series range boasts a raft of deeply impressive figures.

To start with, emissions of 129g/km means the 520d is the only executive car to get into the current 18% benefit-in-kind band, which compares with the Mercedes E220's 19% and the Audi A6 2.0 TDI 170's 21%.

Then there are the figures of 72% - the percentage of 5-series sales that were the 520d last year - and 71%, which is the corporate split of those sales, proving quite how vital the 520d is to the BMW's fortunes. And then there's KwikCarcost's prediction of a 56.2p cost per mile, compared with the Merc's 61.7p and the Audi A6's 64.5p.

The power for the new 520d comes from the same 2.0-litre 184hp engine that's in the 109g/km 320d Efficient Dynamics model. It's plenty potent enough, never leaving the driver feeling short-changed. The refinement is first class, with little noise penetrating the cabin, and improved ride comfort over the previous 5-series doesn't come at the expense of the car's sporting reputation.

The major fly in the ointment is the addition of electric power steering, a feature that improves economy but unfortunately adds unpleasantly artificial steering that lacks in feel. Given BMW's brilliant history in this area, it's a massive let-down.

The SE trim level now has leather and Bluetooth fitted as standard, which means £2200 of formerly optional for the £20 price increase over the old car. There's also an M Sport trim level at £3225 over the SE, with a series of bodywork additions, different alloys and interior improvements.

Steering apart, the new 520d gives nothing for businesses or their drivers to quibble about. There's one more figure that shows how impressive the new model is, and that's the perfect 10/10 awarded by BusinessCar.

BMW 520d SE saloon
P11D price£27,990
Model price range£27,990-£50,865
Fuel consumption57.6mpg
CO2 (tax) 129g/km (18%)
BIK 20/40% per month£84/£168
Service intervalvariable mls
Insurance (1-50)group 32
Warranty3yrs/unlimited mls
Boot space520 litres
Engine size/power1995cc/184hp
Top speed/0-62mph141mph/8.1secs
On sale September 2010
VerdictSteering apart, probably
the ultimate business car


Steering apart, probably the ultimate business car