Expert Reviews

First Drive: BMW 520d Touring

Friday 12 May 2017

First Drive: BMW 520d Touring

The 5 Series Touring has been a huge success for BMW. Since it first went into production in 1972, the German car manufacturer has sold more than a million of them. It’s been a sales success because it combines high levels of practicality with that all-important badge appeal, and keeps the winning recipe of adding spaciousness and flexibility to typical 5 Series refinement.

This latest version is the most technologically advanced yet, with more autonomous assistance and plenty of in-car features. There’s a decent range of engines to choose from, too.

Looks & Image

The 5 Series has been recently updated and has an understated yet premium look that’s a world away from the wild styling of the Bangle-era cars. In our eyes at least, the Touring actually looks better than the saloon. BMW’s design team has been on a roll lately, offering creases in all the right places and giving a sense of class that most competitors struggle to achieve.

The interior takes many cues from the larger 7 Series, which is a very good thing. Everything’s well put together and logically laid out, while the seats are comfortable and supportive.

Space & Practicality

Practicality is key for an estate, and the 5 Series Touring ticks all the right boxes. There’s 570 litres of boot space with the rear seats up, with an impressive 1,700 litres if you fold them flat. The former figure is 10 litres more than the previous generation car, while the latter is 30 litres more. Larger items such as suitcases will fit easily thanks to the square load area.

As has come synonymous with BMW’s Touring models, the 5 Series come with a pop glass hatch at the rear. It gives easy access to the boot without having to open the entire hatch, making grabbing items quickly from the boot a doddle. It’s ideal if you carry dogs regularly too, as it means they can be checked on and given air with minimal risk of escaping.

Behind the Wheel

The 5 Series Touring is a big car – it’s now well over 1,630mm wide and 2,975mm long – but it never feels unwieldy or intimidating. The steering is almost totally devoid of feel but the front end is still incredibly easy to place on the road.

The power delivery in the 520d model we tested is also impressive, offering performance even from low revs. The eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox changes gear smoothly and quickly if left to its own devices, but keen drivers can manually shift via paddles on the wheel if they wish.

All cars come fitted with air rear suspension, which helps it ride brilliantly even over the roughest of roads. This also means that the rear will remain stable when the boot is loaded with heavy luggage. Couple the excellent ride with the hushed cabin and the 5 Series is extremely relaxing, even on longer drives.

Value for Money

Even base spec SE models come with decent standard kit. Priced from £38,385, these cars get 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and air conditioning. All models also get the latest iDrive infotainment system, which comes with a 10.25-inch touchscreen.

As you’d expect from BMW, there are plenty of optional extras available. 

Who would buy one ?

The 5 Series Touring is the perfect choice for those who need a little more space than a saloon can offer. Sure, the Mercedes E-Class offers more overall space, but the BMW is much more fun to drive. With an excellent range of engines and even four-wheel-drive versions, the Touring is an excellent alternative to an SUV.

Facts at a Glance

Model: BMW 520d Touring SE
Base price: £38,385
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel
Power: 187bhp
Torque: 400Nm
Max speed:139mph
0-60mph: 7.5seconds
Economy: 62.7mpg (combined)
Emissions: 114g/km


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