BMW 520d SE

BMW 5 Series, 2017, side
BMW 5 Series, 2017, front
BMW 5 Series, 2017, rear
BMW 5 Series, 2017, rear, action
BMW 5 Series, 2017, front seats
BMW 5 Series, 2017, interior

WIND the clock back a few years and this saloon would have been on every budding executive's wish list.

The BMW 5 Series represented success, pace and style. And of course, it still does. But these days, so many middle managers have access to user-chooser lists and it's the SUV that is winning out against regular three-box saloons.

Whether it's the go-anywhere ability of high riders or the extra versatility that four-wheel-drive (4WD) and an opening tailgate that is the magnet, the more conservative four-door with a boot is definitely on its back foot.

But the famous 5 is fighting back. And this year there's an all new model...although visually it appears remarkably like the last generation version.

There's the usual wide range of engine options from 2.0-litre petrol and diesel version up to the 335bhp 540i, plus a plug-in hybrid, the 530E.

One of the babies of the range is the 520d, a company favourite and one of the most frugal large saloons on the market with a theoretical consumption of 60-plus mpg. Despite the meagre thirst it's not short on power - the four-cylinder pushes out 187bhp in a lighter body than before and is coupled to one of the best automatic gearboxes around.

The marriage results in swift acceleration - 62mph is reached in just over seven seconds and serious mid-range clout.

Throughout its reign of four decades, the 5 Series has always majored on excellent dynamics, and the latest version takes this foundation to a new level. Handling and road-holding are best in class without in any way detracting from the ride standard.

The latest platform, which is shared with the bigger 7 Series allows limo-like comfort alongside athleticism rarely found in five-seater saloons.

Steering is light enough but also allows a fair degree of road-feel encouraging press-on driving and informing the helm of what conditions are like at ground level.

There's more leg, head and elbow room in the current 5 Series and space for back seat passengers is noticeably improved, although there's still a large transmission tunnel that becomes noticeable when seating three-abreast in the rear. The boot extends deep into the body of the car and can carry 530 litres of luggage.

Cabin furnishings are high grade and luxurious, especially so bearing in mind this is one of the cheaper models in the line-up. Fascia layout and switchgear is similar to the 7 Series and a huge 10.25in touchscreen takes centre stage.

This car was fitted with head-up display, a really useful safety feature that allows you to carefully monitor your speed without diverting your eyes from the road. This was part of a £1,495 technology pack.

BMW's iDrive system controls a myriad of functions in an easy-to-use, intuitive fashion. It follows a similar pattern to the marque's other models and works well. A six-speaker sound system is standard.

One of the qualities that makes the 520d such an easy-going mile-eater is its general level of quietness. The engine can barely be heard unless under harsh acceleration and there's little road or wind noise to disturb the peace.


BMW 520d SE

Price: £35,835

Mechanical: 187bhp, 1,995cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving rear wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 142mph

0-62mph: 7.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 68.8

Insurance Group: 30

C02 emissions:108g/km

Bik rating: 23%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles


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