Dubbed by many as the 4x4 killer this month I found myself living with the new BMW 5-Series touring for a week. With crippling running costs most SUV owners are finding it tough right now but BMW are confident the 520d is the ultimate compromise. Sure, it’s not a large machine with mud plugging capabilities but then again how many SUV’s are actually used off road or to tow horseboxes day in and day out? More often than not they never get their rims dirty and with this in mind many will be opting out for a cheaper alternative and I think I have the perfect solution. This is the BMW 520d M Sport, which was launched a few years back. The 2.0-litre diesel engine comes with the optional eight-speed automatic gearbox to deliver the combination of 8.3sec 0-62mph time and CO2 emissions of just 139g/km meaning a low tax band.
The BMW 5 Series M Sport gets sports suspension ad the “M” aerodynamics package that includes the aggressive bumpers skirts and 18-inch M lightweight double-spoke alloy wheels. Inside the luxury continues with specially developed sports seats, a leather-clad steering wheel, anthracite black roof lining and just the right amount of M Sport badges.The dashboard is curved towards the driver with all the controls clear and easy to reach. We loved the sweeping lines in the doors and on the dashboard, and when seated, the car senses the keys in your pocket and you just hit the start button located on the dash. When engaged a slight rumble comes through the body as the car comes to life and then its pure silence. It is by far the quietest diesel engine I have tested. It is so quite that at the first set of traffic lights I found myself double-checking to see if it the start-stop was turned on or not!
Out on the motorway and it was time to sink the go pedal.BMW has a reputation for building cars that are a pleasure to drive and this car is no exception. With such bulk I expected the 5-Series to feel sluggish but instead it felt nimble and lively thanks to that wonderful power plant. With 184 horsepower and 380 Nm of torque the engine pulls through the silky smooth 8-speed automatic transmission with ease. Even in Sport mode paddle shifting the gears is incredibly smooth and you can reach 100km/h in just 8.3 seconds. Onto the back roads now and it’s time to see how the 5-Series corners. Initially the ride feels a tiny bit rougher but it’s probably down to the low profile “runflat” tyres surrounding the 18-inch wheels more so than the fully adjustable suspension. The M Sport stiffer sports suspension has to be selected by the driver which means it uses the softer suspension setting of the SE model for more comfort in everyday use. In sport mode the car corners like it’s on rails. There is zero body roll and chassis feels perfectly capable regardless of how severe the corner.
As standard the Touring also has self-leveling rear air suspension which will ensure that even on a return trip from France loaded with wine it will remain perfectly even. Speaking of loading the boot, capacity is a generous 560 litres which is 60 more than the previous E60 model but still not as much as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class estate. The tailgate has a clever independent opening rear window for loading smaller items and when the boot is fully open a luggage cover automatically retracts and lowers for easy access. Practicality is key with this Touring model but BMW didn’t let it get in the way of the looks. If anything I think the Touring is the best looking of the lot. When the boot is closed the tapered rear end makes the car sit low to the ground giving it a wide track and planted stance. To be honest I lived with this car for seven days and loved every minute of it. The 5 Series Touring is now in its fourth generation and this F-10 shape model is a fine car. It is certainly the best-looking Touring car on the market today and possibly the best machine BMW make for style, refinement and practicality. The M-Sport might be a little much for some but with the SE model so close in every aspect except for price it could just be the ultimate driving machine!
BMW 520d M-Sport Touring Spec
Engine 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
BHP & Torque 184bhpwith 380Nm of torque
Transmission 8-speed Automatic with Paddle
Acceleration 0–100km/h in 8.3s
Top speed 220km/h
Economy 5.3/100km (53mpg)
CO2 emissions 135g/km
Boot capacity 560 litres
Base price €49,660
Price as tested €61,000