Our Fleet Test Drive: BMW 520d - 1st Report
06 October 2010
 18in alloys
As part of its 520d Touring launch strategy, BMW offered BusinessCar the chance to drive an estate to London from its Munich headquarters.
The move was no doubt in part to illustrate how much better the new model is on long runs than its predecessor, which was the best driver's car in its class by a mile, but lacked a little in ride quality as a result. After a 800-mile run across Europe, the report is an improved long-distance machine.
The experience dovetailed nicely into the arrival of my actual car - the saloon version. To save joining an already lengthening queue for the 520d, we took our SE spec model fresh from a spell as part of BMW's demonstration fleet, which means it's already run in with almost 2000 miles on the clock. Its origins also mean it's more loaded with optional kit than is normal for our long-term test cars, with £5605 of stuff added to the standard spec.
The options fall into three categories: things we'd have wanted, things we could live without, and things it could be argued should be offered as standard, even if this is the cheapest model in the new 5-series range.
Firmly in the glad-we've-got-it section are the automatic aircon and heated front seats, given we'll be running the car in the range of weather offered between now and next April, while the extremely expensive yet deeply impressive Business Advanced media pack includes navigation  , Bluetooth and BMW's peerless ConnectedDrive system.
It's surprising that 5-series drivers still have to pay for things like folding door mirrors or the USB audio interface, even in the entry model, while the very pricey yet at least semi-ineffectual Variable Damper Control system is joined in the box marked 'would-have-been-happy-without' by sun protection glass, the through-load system and various interior and exterior flourishes including admittedly comfortable £400 sports seats  that start to push the price way up, as well as an extra inch on the alloys - from 17 to 18 - for £665 .
The 520d will account for more than 70% of the range's sales, and it's a car that has already earned a 10/10 test report from this publication. I'm hoping prolonged exposure will enhance the appeal, and reveal more reason to love and respect what's probably the king of the executive business cars.