The BMW 5 Series is the very first sedan (but not the first car) I ever fell in love with. I was probably in my pre-teens or early teens. Little boys usually gravitate towards bright red or yellow sports cars for their toys. But I was already into car magazines then. And American car magazines really adored the 5 Series. It was the first true sports sedan (back when the 3 Series only came with two doors). And the 11-year-old me became infatuated with a silver-gray 1977 530i, the fastest sedan in its time. (Trivia: the BMW 520, in 1972, was the first model to sport the company’s three-digit nomenclature and the first Bavarian to use the term “Series” in its name.)
And now, 40 years later, I find myself behind the wheel of the all-new seventh-generation 520d (internally designated G30). It’s no small coincidence that the very first 5 Series was a 520 and the very sleek and cutting-edge new 5 I’m testing is also a 520—albeit with a “d”—which denotes a diesel-fed powerplant (with double the power and almost triple the torque of its pioneering predecessor).
And just like all its illustrious predecessors, the new 5 effortlessly blends luxurious elegance with athletic performance (thanks to BMW’s aluminum-intensive Efficient Lightweight body construction that saves 100kg compared to its predecessor). There are a number of striking new exterior features: the hood now extends to the Active Air Stream kidney grille with which the Adaptive LED headlights are seamlessly merged. This gives the vehicle a broader stance.
The character lines on the sedan’s boldly sculpted sides turn up as they head rearwards, further highlighting the brand’s signature dogleg kink. At the rear, dual tail pipes situated on either end emphasize the car’s width and give it an even sportier appeal.
Inside the expansive and luxurious cabin, the 5 Series is a veritable feast for the senses: a handsome and perfectly ergonomic dashboard, elegantly appointed interior (with beautiful diamond-pattern stitching on the seats) and 11 different customizable LED lighting options for the eyes; luxurious Dakota leather—Nappa leather for the range-topping 530d—for all touch points with your skin; the delicious aroma of high-end leather (plus a cool, new Ambient Air Package with eight fragrances) for your nose; and a superb audiophile entertainment system for the ears.
The trims of the door panels are either in wood or aluminum while the surface of the dashboards of select variants are covered in Sensatec material. These trim parts are laser-cut at the factory, to ensure the perfect fit and finish for every single 5 Series.
Rear passenger space has also been improved. The knee room is 18mm longer than its predecessor and the seat cushion length is one of the best in its class. The transmission tunnel has been narrowed (although still not enough, really) and the middle seat has been made wider for more comfort for the middle passenger.
A12.3-inch full-digital instrument display welcomes the driver. Depending on the drive mode (Sport, Comfort, or ECO PRO), the gauges will display different color themes and designs and deliver different information that are relevant to the drive mode.
The new 5 is also equipped with the latest version of BMW very intuitive iDrive, Interface Design (ID) 6. ID6 uses a 10.25-inch LED touchscreen equipped with BMW’s Navigation Professional System. The enhanced iDrive includes BMW’s Gesture Control. Adjusting the volume of the audio system as well as accepting and rejecting phone calls can be done via simple hand gestures, without having to press buttons.
On the road the 520d exhibits BMW’s seemingly patented attributes of delightfully responsive handling and true luxury car riding comfort. The exception would be when one (or both) of the rear wheels falls into a pothole. The impact can be surprisingly jarring for the 520d’s price range. It’s not pickup truck torture, by any means; but it’s not Rolls-Royce magic carpet ride, either.
The precise handling is matched by strong acceleration. The 520d is powered by BMW’s award-winning 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo engine generating a generous 190hp and 400Nm (and mated to an 8-speed automatic with Steptronic manumatic shifting) for a 7.5-second 0-100-km/h sprint and a 235-km/h top speed.
The entry-level P4.95 million BMW 520d Luxury comes with elegant chrome trim, 18-inch wheels, and rear passenger roller blinds. Our P5.39 million 520d M Sport test unit, on the other hand, features a sportier body design, 19-inch alloy wheels, a BMW Head-Up display that projects the driver information on the windshield, and paddle shifters.
There is also the P7.39 million top-of-the-line 530d Luxury powered by a 3-liter TwinPower Turbo diesel engine that produces 265hp and a whopping 620Nm—good for 250 kph and a 0-100 kph time of a sports car-like 5.7 seconds. This variant comes with top-grade Nappa leather, 20-inch wheels, soft-close function for the doors, and the BMW Remote Control Parking with which the driver can park the car while he is outside the vehicle by just using the display key.
But as much as the 530d is virtually a poor man’s M5, the 520d (perhaps in the even more comfortable-riding Luxury trim as opposed to M Sport) would be the ideal daily driver for one’s home-to-office commute. It’s simply such a complete executive sedan that you really won’t be wanting for much else.
Most people who can afford a midsize luxury car and who have no brand loyalties can equally like the BMW 5 Series, the Mercedes E-Class, and the Audi A6. They are all equally accomplished in every aspect. But if you have even the slightest bias for performance and/or sportiness and have high regard for a long history of such, then the 5 Series vaults itself to the front. Sport sedans may be a dime a dozen now, but the original is still very much at the top of its game.
|Engine||190ps/400Nm 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4|
|Brakes||Vented discs with ABS, EBD, Brake Assist|
|L x W x H||4,936 x 1,868 x 1,479mm|
|Other Features||Automatic LED headlamps, DRL’s, LED taillamps, 12.3-inch TFT gauges, Heads Up Display, touchscreen 8-speaker multimedia infotainment system, steering wheel controls, Hand Gesture controls, Dakota leather upholstery, front power multi-adjustable seats with memory, customizable interior colors and fragrances, front and rear four-zone climate control, power tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, smart entry system with push-button engine start/stop, cruise control, front/rear parking sensors, speed-sensing door locks, Dynamic Stability Control, Hill Hold Control, Traction Control, 8 airbags, tire pressure monitoring system, 3 programmable drive modes|