Review – BMW 520i (G60)- How good is the entry-level car?
The new BMW 5 Series
Surely it is always a moment when BMW presents a new 5 Series. The German limousine is invariably among the brand’s best-selling models. It appeals to people who are looking for a business sedan that should also handle well. Moreover, the BMW 5 Series is usually still a handsome car to look at, prove the E28, the E39, F10 and the G30. Even the Bangle E60 is drying up nicely. No small shoes to fill, then, for our BMW 520i.
The design of the new BMW 520i
The design of the new generation takes some getting used to at first. Especially if you compare it to the outgoing model. It has been completely redrawn and is therefore more in line with the brand’s current design language. This makes it more tasteful in that sense, but it is not really rigorously drawn differently as the designers did with, say, the 4 Series.
‘Our’ 520i test car in the color Oxidgrau metallic rolled off the assembly line. Admittedly not a new color at BMW, but it gives the new 5 a nice fresh appearance. Especially in the sun, when the golden glow comes out. This is the Standard version, which means that, among other things, the trims are in chrome. These are black if you choose a 5 Series with the M Sport package. The Standard trim normally has 18-inch alloy wheels, but for this particular 520i, the optional 20-inch rims are ticked with a price tag of a whopping 4,300 euros. That includes the squeezed buttocks when parking along the curb. Furthermore, this BMW 520i is equipped with BMW’s “Iconic Glow” exterior package, which of course includes the illuminated kidneys and a dynamic “Welcome Light Carpet” on the side of the car.
‘But a 520i’
The 520i type designation has been around since the first BMW 5 Series. In most generations, that designation is reserved for the entry-level 5. It is no different with the new one. In fact, it is your only option if you want a 5 Series with only a gasoline engine. BMW also has only one option for diesel engines, the 520d. The rest are fully electric(i5 eDrive40 or M60) or plug-in hybrid (530e and 550e).
Completely free of electrification, the 520i is not. The 190-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine is aided by a 48-volt starter alternator rated at 18 horsepower. So the 520i is a mild hybrid. The electric motor uses the energy gained from driving, braking and coasting to provide the car with some extra power at selected times. The powertrain is good for a system output of 208 hp and 330 Nm. The 5 Series comes standard with the very fine 8-speed automatic transmission and the drive takes place on the rear wheels.
Nice and comfortable
Time to get in, because how does the new 5 drive? Particularly comfortable actually. The chassis of the BMW 520i we’re on the road with features the optional “Adaptive Suspension Professional. This is unfortunately not standard, but certainly makes the car better. Thanks to this package, the suspension is lowered by 5 mm (which, by the way, is the same amount as the M adaptive suspension). The package also adds Dynamic Damper Control, along with co-steering wheels on the rear axle. The result is a car that is not easily upset and remains stable in many situations. The all-wheel steering makes the new 5 easy to maneuver. You notice this especially in tight parking spaces, but it certainly makes the car more nimble in tighter turns as well.
All in all, despite the 20-inch rims and relatively flat tires, it is extremely comfortable. Although he is not averse to cornering here and there, he is more focused on quiet driving. It rides best at half throttle and leaning on torque. For stoplight sprints or better steering, you’re better off looking at the smaller 3 Series anyway.
Is 208 hp enough for the new BMW 520i?
Of course, 208 hp is more than enough to get from A to B in the Netherlands. The torque of 330 Nm is especially nice, as it is available early in the rev range. It is necessary, because the new BMW 5 Series is no small boy: it is 5 meters long, 2.1 meters wide, 1.5 meters high and weighs more than 1,800 kg. Acceleration from standstill to 100 km/h takes 7.5 seconds and the top speed is 230 km/h. With those numbers, there is really nothing to complain about either.
The time when 208 horsepower might not feel like enough is during brisk acceleration with kick-down, out of a corner or to overtake. Sensationally, the four-cylinder has to work very hard to make the body accelerate. Ideally, you have a little more power at your disposal, especially in a 5 Sseries. Always having a little more power left over has been the charm of driving a 5 Series anyway. Then again, you just pick brand new BMW i5, right?
For safety, but irritating
One more point: the warning tone indicating that you are driving faster than the current speed limit is irritating. Every time you go a few kilometers faster than is allowed you are pointed out. Pressing and holding the SET button on the cruise control for three seconds turns that off. Unfortunately, you have to do the same the next ride. Not BMW’s fault, it just has to be by law.
It took some getting used to at first, but the BMW helps you slow down for intersections and traffic circles. As you approach an intersection or traffic circle, the 5 Series brakes to a speed at which it thinks you can smoothly cross the traffic circle. Often he is spot on. This is no doubt from the standpoint of efficiency and/or safety, but it works out of the box if you let it take its course – and if you surrender to it. Moreover, it contributes to a quiet driving style that is best suited to the 520i anyway.
Interior of the BMW 520i
Apart from the exterior, the interior of the new 5 Series is also completely different from its predecessor, but again in line with those other new BMW models. As with other models, a prominent role is played by the curved display. In fact, it consists of two screens with razor-sharp resolution, the right one also operable by touch. Because of the displays, BMW manages to keep the dashboard of the new 5 Series very minimalist. The number of physical buttons on the dashboard is limited, so we find many functions on the central touch display, featuring BMW Operating System 8.5. On the center console, next to the likewise minimalist shift lever, are a number of more haptic buttons that provide quick access to, for example, “My Modes” to customize the atmosphere of the interior to your liking using a number of modes. Navigation, media, phone and home are also accessible with the hotkeys.
Furthermore, inside you are surrounded by materials of very high quality and the finish is of a high level. The Harman Kardon sound system is a real delight, though. Especially sitting in the back gives an added sense of luxury.
Speaking of sitting in the back, it’s comfortable. Our test car is also equipped with a heated rear seat. Especially during the cold test days a very welcome option. Furthermore, the gigantic panoramic roof gives a nice spacious feeling in the rear. It’s a nice place to be with plenty of head and leg room.
Of course, you expect a BMW 5 Series to have things right on a practical level. And he has. Interior storage options are good, and bottles of drinks can be stored well in the doors. Furthermore, the BMW 520i is equipped with an induction charger, USB ports in the front seats for the rear passengers, sunshade for the rear window and sunshades in the rear doors, steering wheel and seat heating and folding mirrors. At 520 liters, the trunk is more than large enough for most families. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also available to pair your smartphone.
What does the new BMW 520i cost?
Well, then the price. The entry-level 5 Series comes from 66,000 euros. If you start ticking some stuff in the options list, the price can quickly rise, as evidenced by our 91,000 euro test car. But all in all, the 520i is certainly not a bad deal. The 5 Series comes standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission, sport seats, adjustable steering column, interior lighting, seat heating, Keyless Engine Start, electric heated mirrors and a whole slew of safety systems. No, in that respect you’ll get away well with basic equipment, although you’ll miss things like adaptive cruise control, Keyless Entry and a head-up display. The difference is mainly made on the outside, where the new 5 quickly becomes more attractive from a handsome set of wheels and a different color.
Does the BMW 520i convince? Absolutely. Thanks to the adaptive suspension, you change the 5 from a comfortable cruiser to a dynamic car. It never gets really sporty, but it doesn’t have to and you don’t really want it to. The 520i is a fine choice for the business driver who does not want to or cannot drive electric and, above all, is also the most affordable new 5 Series. Whether that also makes it the best choice in the 5 Series lineup? Probably not. Thus, the BMW 530e Plug-in hybrid with 299 hp and an electric range at about 100 kilometers for “only” 4,000 euros seems the better choice for now.