Bargain basement fuel economy without compromising credibility
- 2009 BMW E60 520d; 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel; six-speed automatic; sedan - $76,400*
- Electric Glass Sunroof $3,495 (Fitted)
As the motoring world tightens its collective belt, drivers have become far more savvy vis-à-vis economy motoring. But just because a car is frugal, or efficient, shouldn't mean it's compromised in terms of equipment, drivability, comfort, or worse still, credibility.
Fortunately BMW's Efficient Dynamics programme may provide some salvation to the on-going battle between better fuel economy and a satisfying drive in the form of its cheapest BMW 5 Series, the entry-level 520d.
The 520d combines a spacious, quiet cabin (just 67dB at 100km/h) with all the mod-cons expected of the premium Bavarian brand. Best of all the highly favoured combination of a smooth ride and dynamic handling has, for the most part, been retained.
Inside a familiar blend of leather and dark wood grain provides a simple yet elegant decor to a cabin loaded with features that include dual-zone climate control, tilt/telescopic steering, electric seat adjustment (height and recline only), remote central locking, power windows and mirrors, cruise control, satellite navigation, six CD tuner with iPod connectivity, Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone connection, head-up display, leather upholstery, auto wipers and headlamps plus front and rear foglamps. A long list of options are also available at cost.
In fact were it not for the annoying LHD wipers, that leave an arc of uncleared windscreen, weak low-beam headlamps and a slight engine vibration at idle, the 520d would almost boast a cabin near-ideal in size and amenity.
Up front the 520d features a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine sending 130kW of power and 350Nm of torque to the rear wheels. It's hardly what you'd call a strong performer, but it isn't exactly slow either with 0-100km/h dealt with in just under 8.5 seconds.
Highway cruising is comfortable and nearly effortless thanks to a smooth and decisive six-speed automatic transmission with large hills and overtaking tackled with very little fuss. Around town it's much the same story with turbo lag barely worth a mention.
Fuel economy, an obvious strong point for the efficient and dynamic 520d is an obvious high point, but not quite where the figures would have you believe. Official ADR numbers state a combined average figure of just 5.6L/100km. Our week of 50:50 city/highway driving (with climate control on) instead returning 6.8L/100km - not bad in my books.
The drive on offer from the 520d is typically BMW with a smooth and sorted attitude to every situation. The only weak points of note being a brake pedal reluctant to reach a truly 'soft stop' - perhaps as a result of the car's regenerative braking system - and steering that feels just a fraction light on centre.
Otherwise all controls are simple and intuitive with a clean layout that makes on-the-go operation a cinch. The standard head-up display with speed, cruise control and satellite navigation prompts is also a delight in those times when your eyes are needed front and centre.
With safety features including front, side and curtain airbags, ESC with Traction Control, plus ABS with Cornering Brake Control, EBA and EBD, the 520d scores an impressive five-star crash test rating both locally (ANCAP) and back home in Germany (EuroNCAP).
There's no skimping when it comes to the back seat either with rear leg room more than ample - even with the front seat at full extension. Cargo space is also five-star with an impressive 520 litres on offer.
While it might be $14,000 more than a similarly spec'ed Holden Commodore (or $19,000 more than a similar spec'ed Ford Falcon) the 520d is a worthy consideration to the badge-conscious family or fleet buyer, especially if you're keen on being green.
BMW's 520d is available now from $76,400*.
*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer.
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go: