First Drive – BMW 5 Series Sedan Diesel 520d Luxury (A)

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D for Delightful: Torquey, highly refined and even more so fuel economical, the diesel-imbibling BMW 5 Series 520d Luxury is an impressively fun-to-drive business sedan.

There aren’t many cars that leave long, lasting impressions on me. Models such as the Audi RS6 Avant and the Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG do, and for the obvious stomach-churning reasons.

Cars of more regular natures, I rarely pine for. There is one, however, which I still think of every now and then, and it’s the new BMW 5 Series Diesel 520d Luxury.

Why? Simply because it’s ridiculously good. Ridiculously.

According to the car’s on-board computer, a full 66-litre tank of Euro 5 diesel is projected to take you as far as 957km

Clatter, chatter no more

As the entry-level 5 Series from Performance Motors Limited, the 520d rewrites and rules out every negative trait of diesel cars known to man.

Only when you crouch next to its front end and listen very closely, are you able to get a hint of the 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine residing within. From inside its exceptionally insulated cabin, the only giveaway is its typically lower rpm redline on the digital multifunctional instrument display.

Neither is it coarse or easily fatigued under the incursion of your right foot. As I punched my way up north to Kuala Lumpur on the test drive, the 520d’s tarmac-devouring abilities proved to belie its claimed 188bhp and 400Nm torque paper figures, of which the latter is accessible from just 1,750rpm.

Only when you work the engine beyond 3,500rpm does it get slightly more vocal, but rarely do you have to venture that far up the rev range. Otherwise, it produces barely anything more than a whisper.

The 520d’s 2.0-litre turbodiesel may only produce 188bhp but its 400Nm of torque begins to kick from just 1,750rpm

Even as man and machine climb well past the North-South Highway’s legal speed limits, it never shows any signs of wanting to slow down, comfortably dishing out wave after wave of torque from gear to gear, effortlessly cruising past everything from Kelisas to Perdanas.

With about 85 percent of my driving done on expressways, the 520d’s fuel consumption clocked in at 19km/L, scarily close to its stated 20.8km/L. In slow-moving city traffic, I got about 13km/L.

Through the Karak Highway, and up and down the steep, snaking inclines of Genting Highlands, I do not remember a time the 520d was ever unsettled.

Whether I was perilously making straight-line top-speed runs, conducting blitzkriegs through Karak’s many high-speed corners or chasing a heavily modified MINI Cooper S, the 520d remained terrifically stable and definitely smug about how it could handle all the abuse better than any rival. Its steering’s weight, sharpness and feel, too, is unrivaled in its class.

I would, however, prefer if the car was equipped with the Bavarian marque’s firmer M Sport suspension setup.

For even better economy, ECO PRO mode dumbs down the throttle response and sets the climate control to work in a more energy-efficient manner

BMW didn’t cheap-out either

As the entry-level 5er at $259,800 (as of 29th June 2017), the 520d is $20,000 cheaper than the next-in-line 530i Luxury, but aside from smaller 18-inch wheels (19-inchers on the 530i), you do still get the proper BMW 5 Series treatment.

Electric memory seat, BMW ConnectedDrive Services, Ambient Air package, Gesture Control and Display Key do come standard. And as one might expect, design and execution of the cabin are also first-rate.

If our test car was anything to go by, it’s easy to see why the diesel-powered 5er is such a darling in Europe, namely in countries like Germany and the U.K.

As expected of the German luxury brand, the 520d’s cabin is richly-appointed with soft-touch leather and quality plastics

Unfortunately here, because of our Government’s off-the-wall new volume-based diesel tax, it’s not going to be on the top of too many car buyer’s shopping lists, despite producing less carbon dioxide and better fuel economy than the petrol-powered 530i.

Pity, because this is a car I feel is one for the books.

10 Jul 2017 | Text by Nigel Yong, Photos by Low Fai Ming

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