I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – forced induction is the way forward for the automotive industry. The concept isn’t new, and various manufacturers have dabbled in this dark art before, but it wasn’t until a few years back that German manufacturers started mass producing this tech. BMW are no strangers to the art of forced induction, and have recently introduced the F10 5-series with the 2.0L turbo in-line four cylinder to replace the 523i (which had a 2.5L with 177PS/230Nm). The 528i (which had a 3.0L with 262PS/310Nm) has also been replaced with the same 2.0L mill, but with less power but more torque, making 240PS/350Nm. Thanks to BMW Group Malaysia, we were recently able to drive the 520i for a couple of days and form our impression of the entry level 5er.
As I mentioned earlier, under the bonnet lies a 2.0L four-pot with TwinPower technology. While easily mistaken as having two turbos, TwinPower actually denotes the use of twin-scrolling single turbo unit. Maximum power is produced between 5,000 – 6,250rpm and max torque between 1,250 – 4,500rpm; decent enough numbers for the average day-to-day commuting. Driven normally, we found the 520i to be a very able cruiser – squeeze the throttle and there is barely any turbo lag (although if you mash the throttle, lag is more apparent). Eight seconds is all it takes to get from zerotohundred; this is impressive, considering its heft (1,715kg) and modest performance figures. Top speed is rated at 226km/h and while we managed 224km/h, you will need plenty of (empty!) tarmac to even attempt this.
Standard equipment includes the ability to switched between several driving modes. These modes control the car’s acceleration, engine, steering, transmission, suspension system and traction control. While the most extreme mode (SPORT+) sharpens throttle response and turns off traction control, the mildest mode (ECO-PRO) helps to improve upon fuel efficiency. This is achieved not just by optimizing the drivetrain, in-cabin electronic comfort gadgetries also work to reduce consumption. ECO-PRO is like a little educational game – drive the car within its economical limits and your ‘score’ is the bonus kilometers added to the vehicle’s range. I actually tested this out, and in my 20km commute, I was able to ‘extend’ my journey by 4.6km; pretty impressive stuff. Standard BMW EfficientDynamics includes Brake Energy Regeneration, Electromechanical Steering, an 8-speed automatic transmission, as well as an automatic Start/Stop function. Come to a halt at a set of traffic lights and the engine shudders to a stop. Let go of the brake pedal and the engine shudders back to life very quickly. This can get slightly annoying, especially if (like me) you have to deal with a lot of traffic lights during your daily commute. Thankfully, BMW has included a button to turn this feature off.
The 520i is sharp and precise in the corners; more so, in fact, than that 523i thanks to its smaller, lighter engine. Although its steering is nicely weighted, it does lack a little feel. Suspension is set up primarily for comfort (bear in mind that this is the level entry 5er), so there will be body roll if you are over enthusiastic when attacking twisty roads. On pimply road surfaces common in KL, this car soaks up most undulations with minimal fuss. Shifts from its 8-speed automatic box are seamless, and it doesn’t take very much to go past legal road speeds. Compared to the Jaguar XF that we drove earlier, the 520i was much more dynamically sorted. A visit to our favourite ‘test track’ was of course a given, and I managed to hit 190km/h… without the gonad-shrinking sensation I had in the XF (the XF managed a sliver over 200km/h here). If you would like to view the video, let me know and I can get that sorted out.
Overall, the 520i impresses. Its lines remain very current despite having been around for two years now. The F10 is definitely less bold than the previous generation E60, but will continue to appeal to BMW’s target market: middle-aged businessmen and executives. The only exterior cues that differentiate this entry level 5er are its 17-inch alloys. The interior is typical BMW, with expansive use of wood or aluminum trim. Soft-touch plastics everywhere, fit and finish is of the usual, high BMW standards. If I had to nit-pick, I’d say the cabin was a little boring. Other standard kit includes Bluetooth and iPod/iPhone connectivity, sat-nav system, dual climate control, automatic headlamps, iDrive (so much easier to use today, than when it first debuted!)… the list goes on but suffice to say, standard equipment is substantial. Priced at RM358,800, the 520i undercuts the outgoing 523i by a whopping RM25,000; cheaper, more powerful, increased efficiency, and cheaper road tax – that is never a bad thing in our books.
To view all the pictures of the BMW F10 520i, click here
. BMW F10 520i
• Top Speed
: 224km/h (tested)
: 2.0L twin-scroll turbo inline four cylinder
: 187PS / 5,000 – 6,250 rpm
: 270Nm / 1,250 – 4,500 rpm
: 1,715kg (kerb weight)
• Fuel Economy
: 17’ x 8J alloys
: 225/55 R17
: RM358,800 (OTR excluding road tax and insurance, with (BS+RI))