Chris Miller road tests and reviews the 2013 BMW 520i.
The long standing benchmark for a large rear wheel drive luxury car has been the 5 Series BMW, and the latest model keeps up the tradition.
Velvety smooth and utterly indulgent, the new 5 Series is a delight even in base model form as tested.
The 2013 BMW 520i powered by a 2.0 litre Twin Turbo 4-cylinder is no ball of fire, but is surprisingly rapid with a 0-100km/h time of 8.0 seconds. The free revving engine is smooth & refined all the way to the red line; it’s arguably the most polished four pot on the market.
On paper you’d be hard pressed to believe there’d be enough power, but in day to day driving the power is more than sufficient and the economy outstanding. Over a week of mainly inner city commuting, the most I could get to to drink was 8.5 litres per 100km.
The stop start system aids economy and is smooth & blindingly fast, with instant start up as soon as pressure is eased on the brake pedal.
With 135kW and 270Nm on tap, the lightweight components used and the super smooth standard eight speed automatic equate to swift progress off the line and easy overtaking.
Handling is excellent with great front end bite, composed, predictable manners in high speed corners and an excellent balance that inspires you to push that bit harder.
The ability of the 5 Series will far outweigh most drivers in normal situations, and the big BMW is always forgiving of those underdone in the driving skill department.
Unlike most other cars on the market the traction and stability control can be completely switched off and it is possible to get the back wheels spinning and you get to decide when to change up or down a gear.
It is one of the best calibrated systems around when left on though, with minimal interference, and the system allows for a little bit of slip if you’re pushing.
Inside the BMW 520i you’re cocooned in swathes of high quality leather, timber and high grade plastics.
Everything feels beautiful and it all works in a logical fashion. The seats are supportive, the driving position is spot on and the standard steering wheel looks the part, although the M Sport steering wheel (available as an option) feels better.
There is a distinct lack of storage space with the central console bin being too shallow to hold anything other than a mobile phone and set of keys, and the central screen used for the iDrive system is a bit on the small side.
Just like all BMW badged cars the option list is extensive & expensive.
The base price for our test vehicle is $78,500; add a sunroof, electric seats and music interface for smartphones and the price jumps to $84,620 before on road costs. Still, while it’s expensive you can feel the engineering and experience BMW bring to the party every time you drive it.
In comparison to the current Mercedes Benz E-Class and Audi A6, the BMW 5 Series is the choice for those looking for driver enjoyment.
While luxurious and comfortable like the others, it’s the 5 Series more pronounced sporting intent that is the most satisfying.
With a benchmark chassis and drive-train, great looks and real luxury, the 5 Series, and the 520i version are at the top of the food chain.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 2.0 litre turbo petrol developing 135kW and 270Nm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Safety: Five stars
Warranty: 3 years
Price: From $78,500
For further information, please see Recalls and faults: BMW F10 5-Series Sedan.