Honey, I Shrunk The 7 Series
For more than what seems like 4 decades, the BMW 5 Series has been the go-to executive saloon for millions of business type mile munchers with somewhat an enthusiasm for driving.
The 5 Series’ blend of flair has always been highly commendable and rarely matched, offering supreme ride comfort, state of the art interiors and, whenever it takes your fancy, exciting and entertaining rear-wheel-drive fun!
The new G30 BMW 520d looks familiar, but this new model does almost everything with a refined, effortless ease, while offering an impressive array of modern technologies for those tech savvy business types.
The seventh generation 5 Series may not look all that different to the old one, but don’t let this deliberately evolutionary design trick you into thinking the Germans have ran out of ideas. Like it’s arch rival the Mercedes E-Class, this latest iteration of BMW’s iconic large saloon offers some of the very latest gadgets. As it turns out, the new 5 Series feels like a smaller 7 Series now, which is no surprise since it uses the same CLAR (Cluster Architecture) scalable platform that debuted in the 7 Series.
I’m lucky enough to be driving here the entry level 520d Luxury Line, yes a diesel. The list price of these will set you about Php 4.590M. Quite steep considering it’s main rival the Mercedes E200 Exclusive is 200k less, but the BMW does offer comparably more equipment.
The cabin layout will be familiar to BMW owners, and it lacks the immediate showroom “wow” factor the E-Class provides. But the 5 Series’s comfy Dakota perforated leather seats and flawless ergonomics are just bang on. The fine wood cabin trims aren’t to my taste, and the lower part of the fascia looks kinda aged in design. But otherwise it’s sublime.
Standard features include the 12-inch TFT LCD gauges that are instead optional in the Mercedes-Benz, BMW’s excellent and easy to use iDrive infotainment system with a rather cool, but also kinda unnecessary Gesture Control and now can be controlled via a touch screen, adaptive LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, and a host of other safety and comfort features that make driving in Manila easier and more effortless.
Another option fitted to this vehicle is an Ambient Air System that pumps nice androgynous perfume into the cabin! So all you smokers need not to worry.
Back seat space is generous, with even adults taller than 6 foot having generous space. Space for three adults seated abreast is good, only hampered by the transmission tunnel that eats up into rear seat foot room, plus the trunk space is also quite generous, if not class leading, at 530 liters. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers 10 more, but what matters more is the shape of the trunk, and in this regard, the BMW excels with its squared-off practical shape, creating small and useful pockets inside the trunk.
The G30 5 Series manages to loose 70 kg of weight thanks to the use of more aluminium in key components such as the body panels and suspension rather than more expensive carbon fibre like it’s big brother 7-Series and the BMW i3.
The familiar 2.0 liter TwinPower Turbo diesel engine produces 190 hp @ 4,000 rpm and 400Nm @ 1,750-2,500 rpm. Power is unchanged from the previous generation. Power is sent via a super-intuitive ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with manual mode via sa electronic shifter, sending torque towards the rear wheels. With this powertrain combo, the 520d is able to sprint from 0-100 kph in 7.7 seconds. As tested I did a stratospherically impressive 23 km/l combined average.
Performance diesel fans may want to look at the Php 6 million 530d with it’s 3.0 Litre diesel inline-6 cylinder TwinPower Turbo diesel engine, making 265 hp and 620Nm of torque, and do the 0-100 kph sprint in 5.7 seconds. Petrol junkies can pay Php 5.5 million for the 530i with an inline-4 cylinder TwinPower Turbo petrol engine, making 252 hp and 350Nm, and do a 0-100 kph time of 6.2 seconds. In reality though, the base 520d engine is all you’re likely going to need, as it offers the best blend between power and fuel economy.
Torque delivery is near instantaneous and delivered across a ridiculously wide rev range, giving the driver a super smooth driving nature and effortless overtaking.
Dynamically the 520d Luxury Line is configured to offer comfort and refined driving pleasure as key priorities. The entry level 520d also gets 18 inch alloy wheels and steel springs as standard unless you opt for the M Sport package, which adds sportier suspension and 19” wheels.
The test car BMW provided us had an optional Comfort package fitted which adds a number of features (electronic boot, high-beam assist, heated seats) but also Adaptive Dampers. This adaptive suspension feature stiffens up the suspension in sport mode, and softens it in comfort mode.
Being a BMW, there are a million options you can spec if you’d like, including Night Vision with pedestrian recognition, a fantastic sounding Bowers & Wilkins diamond surround-sound system (though the standard sound system seems good enough already) and a pair of rear 10” flat screens. Just buy a 7 Series already if you’re speccing it up to that level.
All told, the 2017 BMW 520d Luxury does exactly what a premium German saloon car should. It offers the latest in (updatable) in-car tech, plenty of cool options which you can brag about to your friends if you have any, the driving tech which is super cool, and most especially the fabulous driving comfort.
I absolutely love this car the moment I got in it. Between this and the new E-Class, buyers have rarely had it better. If you want glitz and glam, go for the Mercedes. But for me, there’s something about this car thats just tickles my fancy. Friends would right away describe me as a Mercedes guy, but the new 5 Series, theres something timeless, understated and effortlessly capable about it. Decisions, decisions…