Adequate power and a lower asking price make a compelling case for BMW 520d, a new entrant into the 5-series

BMW's earlier-generation 5-series was, by far, the largest selling car in its segment and BMW owes its success largely due to the earlier 520d. The carmaker now has introduced a cheaper diesel variant into the current Five. The 520d, unlike the 525d or the 530d, is powered by a smaller 2.0-litre engine. But will this motor do justice to luxury car buyers?

The turbo-charged, four-cylinder unit displaces 1995cc, which is similar to the one in the 320d and old 520d. With 184bhp and 38.7kgm, performance is surprisingly good. It is responsive too, and helps make the car very driveable in urban traffic. Throttle response is almost instantaneous and you won't be left wanting for more power in most situations. The Five cruises comfortably on the highway but this diesel's forte is its petrol motor. Unlike most diesels, this one doesn't mind being revved, which reveals its true BMW colours. Maximum torque comes from 1900-2750rpm and since this is where you reside most of the time, overtaking is a breeze, the eight-speed auto downshifting quickly when you floor the throttle. The well-matched, closely stacked gear ratios also help disguise this car's displacement deficit. Of course, it's no match for the 530d's far more potent 3.0-litre engine, but it does the job nicely.

The performance figures speak for themselves – 100kph comes up in a very brisk 9.09 seconds while the car will hit its top speed without breaking into a sweat. Thanks to the quick-shifting eight-speed gearbox, the in-gear times also are pretty impressive.

It is ideal for a chauffeur-driven car and occasionally when you decide to take to the wheel, this engine will more than suffice. However, refinement and comfort, which are a priority in the rear seat, is where the 520d falls a little short. The engine is quite refined, but it can't compare to the 530d's silky-smooth six-cylinder motor. You will notice that it is more audible at idle and vibrates a tad more. It becomes a bit vocal too when worked hard.

There are few changes to the cabin — the beige colour and superb quality remain, making it a nice place to be in. Material quality and craftmanship are fantastic. The soft suspension set-up remains, which means ride quality is very good and the car tackles rutted roads at low speed really well. But handling suffers and the car rolls and pitches a bit when you turn enthusiastic. Overall, the 520d feels in control and you can rate its handling safe but boring.

Adequate power and a lower asking price make a compelling case for the 520d. At Rs. 36.90 lakh (on-road, Mumbai) it costs just Rs 5.3 lakh more than a 320d Highline. So for some it may make sense to stretch their budget a little and go for the bigger, and in many ways, better car. With a smaller engine and lighter kerb weight compared to the 530d, fuel efficiency should be better.

If performance is your priority, the 530d with 243bhp on tap will give you a bigger adrenaline rush and effortless performance. For all other purposes, the 520d is a good choice.

Technical data

Price Rs 36.90 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

Length 4899mm

Width 1860mm

Height 1464mm

Wheelbase 2968mm

Track (front/rear) 1600/1627mm

Kerb weight 1720kg

Engine

4 cyls in-line, 1995cc turbo-diesel

Installation Front, longitudinal

rear-wheel drive

Power

184bhp at 4000rpm

Torque38.7kgm at 1900-2750rpm

Gearbox

8-speed auto

Fuel tank

70 litres

Boot volume 520 litres

Tyre size 225/55 R17

Keywords: BMW 520d