Thursday, June 28, 2012

Car review: BMW 520d F10

Technical Data

Model (Code / Model Year): BMW 520d (F10 / 2011)

Engine: 4-cylinder diesel engine (1995 cm3)
Transmission: 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission
Paintwork + Interior + interior trim + wheels: Alpine white (non metallic) + Black Dakota leather + Fineline anthracite wood trim + 18x8J V-spoke alloy styling 328
Optional Equipment: 8-speed automatic gearbox Steptronic, Air conditioning, automatic with extended features, Sport Steering Wheel, Reversing Assist camera, Park Distance Control, front and rear, Electric glass Sunroof, Rear-view mirror, auto dimming, Smokers package, Electrical front seats + driver memory, Through-loading ski bag, Split-folding rear seats, Sport seats, front, Seat heating, front, High-beam Assistant, Xenon headlights, Headlight wash, USB audio interface, Navigation system - BMW Professional, Bluetooth preperation "Business", Voice Control, Loudspeaker system - BMW Business, Speed limit display
Performance: 184hp / 380nm
0 to 100km/h: 8,1sec
Top speed: 227km/h (142mp/h)
Weight: 1715kg
Fuel tank (US gallons): 70 liter (18.5 US gallons)
Fuel consumption in liter / 100km (U.S. miles per gallon): 7,4 liter / 100 kilometer (31,8mpg / US) (click the link for the fuel consumption test)
Price (Germany): €58.400
F10 engines driven: 520d, 530d xDrive

Downsizing has been one of the major trends in the automotive industry for the past few years. Sparked by both high fuel prices and more stringent emission laws, smaller engines become increasingly popular among almost all car classes. 

In this test, BMW demonstrates this trend with its 520d. When it was introduced back in 2000 for the first time, only a small portion of the 5-series customers chose this engine. However, nowadays the majority of the customers orders the 520d. And if you compare the specifications (see the comparison below), it is not hard to understand why the 4-cylinder 520d engine has gained so much popularity. Lets put the BMW 520d through its paces and test for what it is worth.

Compared to the early BMW 530d, the current BMW 520d F10 has the same performance data, but with 2-cylinders less.

1. Exterior

About 10 years ago, BMW radically changed its design according to the new style that had been introduced by its then chief designer Chris Bangle. He had designed the predecessor of the current 5-series F10, the 5-series E60, which sparked controversy among the BMW-fans around the world.
The current BMW 5-series F10 however, has been designed by Adrian van Hooydonk. He became Director of BMW Group Design in 2009, succeeding Chris Bangle as the head of design for the company.

Although Adrian van Hooydonk was involved in the design of earlier BMWs, the current design of BMW has been much less controversial as its predecessors, in order to appeal to a much broader public then it did before. Therefore, the F10 was designed much more conservative and has smoother lines. But still the 5-series features the typical BMW design features, like the 2 seperate kidneys, the L-shaped tail lights, the 2 angels eyes in the front headlights, and the "Hofmeisterknick" near the rear of the car.

2. Engine, Transmission and handling

Downsizing has been a major trend in Europe for the past few years, and technological advances have made the 2.0 liter diesel engine in the 520d the most popular choice for the BMW 5-series. Combined with the "efficient dynamics" components and the 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, it has an excellent fuel consumption. 

Apart from the fuel consumption, when taking the insurance and taxes into account, the BMW 520d delivers good value for money in its class. BMW also reduced the noise level of the engine inside the car, when cruising the engine is almost not audible, while the noise when accelerating is dampened, making this a major improvement compared to the 520d E60 predecessor. Only when driving at high speeds, above 160km/h, the engine seems to get more sluggish and needs its time to accelerate.

For the BMW 520d, two different transmission are available. Either the 6-speed manual gearbox, or the 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. BMW also offers an 8-speed sport automatic transmission, which is basically the same automatic transmission but with an extra sport mode with shortened shift times, shift padles on the steering wheel and a different gear selector design. Produced by ZF Friedrichshafen, the ZF-8HP automatic gearbox features a larger spread of the gears which enable lower revs and less engine noise at higher speeds, resulting in lower fuel consumtion.

Regular automatic transmission
Sport automatic transmission

Handling of the current BMWs is influenced by two major trends. One is that the weight of the car continously increases, making the handling more sluggish. The other trend is that BMW tries to make their rides more comfortable then its predecessor, in order to appeal to a broader public. This make every generation BMW more comfortable and less sporty, although BMW never loses all of its sporty attributes, like the 50:50 weight distribution or the rear-wheel-drive. 

Compared to the current Mercedes Benz E-class (W212), the BMW still is the more sporty car, while the current Audi A6 more and more moves towards the handling that BMW has. Among the hardcore fans of BMW, the trend of becoming more and more comfortable is a major point of critique. In order to help resolve this issue, BMW offers a sport suspension, Adaptive Drive (with an excellent sport mode) or BMW performance parts in order for stress the sporty attributes more then the standard car does. But these options do come with a price tag.

3. Interior

Interior design is, like the exterior design, always a matter of personal taste. However, an author can point out details and / or issues that might differ from the expectations one has from a product. 

Regarding the interior quality, Audi has been the main competitor for BMW during the past few years. While BMW was known for its driver oriented layout, but during the "Bangle-years" this approach was not followed anymore. Yet with the introduction of the 5-series F10, BMW has again introduced the more driver oriented interior layout. The interior design shares many features with the 7-series, while it is a high quality interior that has incorporated all the functions into the design, as opposed to the interior design of the new BMW 1-series, 3-series and 6-series.

One main drawback of the interior of the 5-series F10 is the lack of storage space, in the interior there are just very few places that can hold personal items, there is no special place for (sun) glasses, and the cupholders are located in an inconvenient position right in front of the automatic airconditioning.

Interior with black dakota leather and Fineline anthracite wood trim
Close up of the Fineline anthracite wood trim

Center arm rest with a small space to store personal items + the USB-connection for charging a phone / listening to music.
When ordering the "Navigation Professional" system, the car comes equipped with a large HD-screen in the center console. The main advantage over the smaller "Navigation Business" is that the big screen can be split into a map with the navigation on one side, and a screen with different information (onboard computer, entertainment details, etc.) displayed next to it.

Splitscreen on the Navigation Professional system

4.Optional Equipment

This section discusses (part of) the optional equipment available on the F01. Ranking from 1 (definitely a yes), 2 (nice to have, but not a minimum requirement) to 3 (not worth the money).

  • Park Distance Control (PDC): A car of this size does need a watchfull eye when navigating in tight spots. Ranking 1
  • Front heated seats: If it does not come standard with leather upholstery in your country, it is a very neat feature to warm up a cold seat very fast, as cold leather otherwise might be an unpleasant affair. Ranking 1
  • Sport seats: depends on the person, if the standard seats are not sufficient the sport seats are a good upgrade for a fair price, while the comfort seats are superb but also more expensive. Sports seats: ranking 2
  • Bluetooth preperation "Business": In many countries calling while driving is already prohibited, so a direct integration for the cellphone into the cars system is money well spent. Ranking 1
  • Rearview mirror auto dimming: comfort feature. Ranking 2
  • Air conditioning, automatic with extended features: Apart from dual zone climate control, the air vents also come with chrome accents. Ranking 2
  • Sport Steering Wheel: The sport steering wheel does feel significantly better then the standard steering wheel. Ranking 1
  • Reversing Assist camera: The PDC is sufficient for avoiding obstacles when parking. Ranking 2
  • Electric glass sunroof: A glass sunroof lets more light into the interior, but is not an absolutely necessary feature. Ranking 2
  • Electrical front seats + driver memory: Only if several drivers use the same car, hence a lot of seat adjusting takes place, this function might come in handy. Most drivers however adjust the seat rarely, so this money can better be spend on something different. Ranking 3
  • Split-folding rear seats: Greatly enhances the ability to transport larger objects. Ranking 1
  • High-beam assistant: Only a nice feature when driving on local roads in the countryside a lot, in the city or on the highway this feature is seldomly used. Ranking 3
  • Navigation system - BMW Professional: When ordering a satnav, the price increase between the navigation system Business vs. Professional is relatively small, while the latter offers a larger screen and more function. Ranking 1
  • Leadspeaker system - BMW Business (Germany: Lautsprechersystem HiFi): The standard system is ok for general use, while music lovers should upgrade to at least the small HiFi, while the HiFi Professional might also be an option for people who would want to have a better performance. HiFi: Ranking 1
  • Speed limit info: Great feature in order to keep an eye on the speed limit when the driver is distracted from the road. Functions in 95% of the situations perfectly. Ranking 1
Final thoughts:

In these times of tighter budgets and downsizing, the BMW 520d is a car with excellent value for money in its class. The 4-cylinder diesel engine means that it is cheap to run, but the 5-series still maintains the level of comfort that one expects from a car in this class.

Apart from the financial aspect, the car itself represents everything a modern business saloon is supposed to be. A modern interior, many technological features integrate navigation, communication, and entertainment into one system, many options that make long journeys comfortable. Yet the interior does have several small design flawns that could be improved when the Facelift (LCI) is released around 2014.

BMW 520d F10 media:

For videos of this particular BMW: BMW 520d F10 videos
For more pictures of this and other BMW 5-series: BMW 5-series F10 / F11 pictures
For a review on the predecessor: BMW 520d LCI (E60 / MY2009)
For a picture comparison between the old and new 5-series: BMW 5-series E60 vs. F10

No comments:

Free counter and web stats
Preview on Feedage: guitigefilmpjes Add to My Yahoo! Guitigefilmpjes Add to Google! Guitigefilmpjes Add to AOL! Guitigefilmpjes Add to MSN Guitigefilmpjes Subscribe in NewsGator Online Guitigefilmpjes
Add to Netvibes Guitigefilmpjes Subscribe in Pakeflakes Guitigefilmpjes Subscribe in Bloglines Guitigefilmpjes Add to Alesti RSS Reader Guitigefilmpjes Add to Windows Live Guitigefilmpjes iPing-it Guitigefilmpjes
Add to Feedage RSS Alerts Guitigefilmpjes