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BMW 520d SE Touring

BMW 520d SE Touring

BMW 520d SE Touring

Road Test

BMW 520d SE Touring

Model/Engine size: 520d SE Touring
Fuel: Diesel
Fuel economy combined: 55.4 mpg

Green-Car-Guide rating: 9/10

The BMW 520d SE Touring, capable of 55.4 mpg and 135 g/km CO2, is surely the complete practical executive package?

The new BMW 5 Series saloon was launched in March and adding to the saloon and GT body styles comes the Touring. Having tested the BMW 520d recently, we were keen to see if the new Touring version of the 5 Series was as good as the saloon.

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BMW’s EfficientDynamics technologies ensure that the substantial and stylish Touring qualifies to appear in Green-Car-Guide, and whilst the figures are not quite as low as those of the saloon, they are impressive nonetheless. The 520d Touring has CO2 emissions of 135 g/km and combined fuel consumption of 55.4 mpg; these statistics are excellent for a large premium estate model.

The first thing that strikes you when you see the 5 Series Touring is that it is a beautiful car. Some may even view the Touring as a more accomplished design than its saloon sibling. The Touring does not have the squared-off tailgate that make many estates look bulky and cumbersome. Instead, there is a sculptured and tapered rear end. The car sits low to the ground and has a wide track making it look well planted. With short overhangs and broad shoulders, there is no doubt this is a Touring with sports pedigree.

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In terms of specification and trim levels, the Touring matches the saloon version. Along with the launch of the Touring is the new M Sport trim which is very popular in the UK. The more aggressive sports styling comes with “M” motifs, sports seats and interior trim and 18-inch alloy wheels. The M Sport also comes with stiffer sports suspension but this can be de-specified to the softer suspension of the SE model for greater comfort when driving normally.

We have always been fans of the M Sport specification, but in this case the subtlety of the 5 Series’ design doesn’t quite match the brash changes of the M Sport package. The aggressive design of the previous 5 Series suited the M Sport enhancements but this new version may look better to some in the SE guise as tested.

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On climbing into the cabin you’re greeted with an environment that is pure BMW. The dashboard is curved towards the driver with all the controls clear and easy to reach. The design inside the car is also faultless with sweeping lines in the doors and on the dashboard making this a very pleasant place for driver and passengers. The new 5 Series comes with high quality leather as standard, making the comfortable seats feel luxurious.

The most important factor with this car is its added practicality over the saloon. The boot’s capacity is 560 litres which is 60 more than its predecessor but it’s not the largest in its class, this award goes to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class estate. Whilst there is room for luggage or the family dog, the boot cannot be described as cavernous. The boot’s floor is quite high and the tapered rear end does compromise space. There are, however, useful standard features that add to the practicality such as 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats, a luggage cover that automatically retracts and lowers with the tailgate, and an independent opening rear window for loading smaller items.

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BMW has a reputation for cars that are a joy to drive and this car is no exception. The big car feels nimble and willing both in straight lines and on the corners. BMW’s trademark rear-wheel drive configuration is perfectly set-up with the car balanced beautifully. The 520d tested felt agile and with 184 hp and 380 Nm of torque available, the drive was engaging and enjoyable. The standard self-levelling rear air suspension on the Touring will ensure that even when fully loaded, the handling of the car remains accomplished. The test car came with BMW’s 8-speed automatic transmission which was silky smooth although at very low speeds, the car sometimes struggled to decide which of its low gears to select, alternating between first and second a little too frequently.
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As you would expect the 5 Series Touring is not a cheap car, with prices starting at £30,380 for the 520d. This represents a premium of £2335 on the saloon version. The list of standard equipment on the new version is improved with leather and dual-zone climate control now standard. The list of options is long and for many there will be certain features that will be hard to resist. Options include the automatic 8-speed gearbox (£1495), Park Assist (£560), Adaptive Drive (active suspension costing £2220), Head Up display (£940) and Night Vision with pedestrian recognition (£1480). The list is long and costly. To illustrate this point, a 530d Touring with a list price of £39,400 can easily reach nearly £60,000 thanks to a list of options that can easily top £20,000.

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The car comes with BMW’s i-Drive system to control many of the car’s systems including Navigation, Infotainment and BMW’s new Connected Drive system, making your car an extension of your office. The i-Drive system has always split opinion with its complex range of menus. The navigation system did let us down once and the i-Drive system could be more intuitive.

The 5 Series Touring is ahead of most of its competitors in terms of efficiency and performance. The main competitors are the Mercedes E-Class estate and Audi A6 Avant. Whilst both of these are good cars, it is this new BMW that best combines efficiency and great driving characteristics. The immaculately engineered rear-wheel drive formula and perfectly balanced chassis is bound to attract both company car drivers and retail customers alike. The low running costs and excellent residual values give the 520d Touring a running cost of 60.23 pence per mile over 3 years and 60,000 miles. The Mercedes E220 estate and Audi A6 Avant have running costs of 65.34 and 67.28 pence per mile respectively.

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The 5 Series Touring is now in its fourth generation and the new model is a fine car. It is certainly the best-looking Touring to come from the BMW stables and its good looks may start to increase its share of the 5 Series sales. The 520d derivative is inevitably going to be the main seller with class-leading emissions, fuel efficiency and performance. This is a highly efficient car that is excellent to drive. The basic on-the-road price of the car is competitive but any frivolity with the options list will soon start to make the car very expensive. The 5 Series Touring is a great car and is the leader in the market. The 520d is the model to choose for a perfect combination of low emissions and excellent driveability – all delivered with style and function.

The BMW 520d Touring gets a Green-Car-Guide rating of 9 out of 10. It is an excellent overall package, with the added bonus of fuel economy and emissions that are class-leading for this category of car. The main thing that lets it down is the price, as it’s not affordable for everyone.

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Summary

What is there not to like about the BMW 520d Touring? It looks great, it’s excellent to drive, it’s capable of returning 55.4 mpg with emissions of just 135 g/km CO2, it’s refined, high-quality, and rear-wheel drive. It offers good value for money, and has leading low lifetime running costs. It’s highly practical and spacious, with a good-sized carrying space. The 520d Touring is an ideal purchase for company car drivers, but equally private buyers certainly won’t be disappointed.

Tim Anderson
Consumer Transport Manager
Energy Saving Trust

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Fuel economy extra urban: 62.8 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 45.6 mpg
CO2 emissions: 135 g/km
Green rating: VED band E – first year £110
Weight: 1710 Kg
Company car tax liability (2010/11): 19%
Price: £30,380 (From £30,380 – £47,545)
Insurance group: 32
Power: 184 bhp
Max speed: 138 mph
0-62mph: 8.3 seconds
DPF: Yes