A drive in an Alpina - 7th March 2018
Last week, I briefly swapped the 520d for Alpina’s new D5 S, which was in on test. And while the D5 is faster and has more leather inside, above all it reinforced just how good the 520d is. It still has loads of poke and an interior that’s genuinely luxurious, plus a superb blend of ride and handling. Yet the test D5 was more than twice the price.
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Life with a BMW 520d: Month 5
xDrive is a neccesity, for some – 21 February 2018
If I were to spend my own money on a 5 Series, I’d specify xDrive. With family spread between Yorkshire, North Wales and Scotland, a lot of my time behind the wheel is spent on lanes covered with leaves, mud and snow. Although our rear-wheel- drive 520d SE is incredibly engaging, there are times when I feel jealous watching quattro Audis scythe past as I’m slipping and sliding about.
Life with a BMW 520d: Month 4
Bergerac’s nice, but getting there in this is a birthday treat in itself – 31 January 2018
“We’re going to France!” “ I exclaimed, grinning. “Oh, wow. Lovely,” returned my wife, lying. We were on the M20 at this point, at some god-awful time in the morning, nearing the beautiful port town of Dover. I’d managed to keep this surprise trip for my wife’s 30th birthday exactly that until now but, given the ferries from Dover go to only a handful of destinations, and most of them are in France, I thought now was a good time to spill the beans.
At least our eight-hour journey on the other side (I’d forgotten to inform her about that bit) would be carried out in what I was hopeful would be a superb mile-muncher: our BMW 520d. And it turned out to be just that. BMW’s 2.0-litre diesel engine offers all the performance you realistically need, it’s extremely quiet under load and at a cruise, and our trip down, which combined six hours of motorway plus a couple more on country roads, was covered with 44.1mpg on the trip computer come the end of it.
Which reminds me: the 5 Series can do country roads well too. Okay, so you’d get a bit more agility with an M Sport 5 Series on its larger alloy wheels, but our SE is more comfortable more of the time and is still capable of changing direction remarkably well for a hefty luxury car. It’s made even more enjoyable by the steering, which is precise and well weighted, and certainly helps build confidence when tackling tricky bends.
But, being an impeccable husband, there were yet more surprises for my wife, who after eight hours was beginning to dislike me very much indeed. We pulled into Bergerac airport and, after joking that we were going skydiving (not as funny as I’d hoped), she saw her two good friends,who had flown over without her knowing. Which brings us to another of the 5 Series’ strong points: its boot. It’s a saloon, yes, but there’s good access considering, and weekend bags for four went inside with room to spare. Which was good, because I’d booked us a vineyard to stay at and that extra room would be taken up by copious amounts of wine. It was only another half an hour or so to the vineyard, and I was feeling remarkably fresh.
Frankly, eight hours in anything would take its toll, but my lower back wasn’t sore (you’ll need the optional lumbar support) and BMW’s class-leading iDrive infotainment system had once again proved why it’s top of the tree. Not only is it easy to use with its rotary dial and menu shortcuts, but the in-built sat-nav is easily oneof the most intelligent and easy-to- understand systems available.