The 5 Series adds to its appeal with a new small 2-litre engine. Ameya Dandekar checks it out

Does big always mean better? BMW certainly doesn’t think so. The German carmaker has rolled out its best-selling 5 Series with a new 2.0-litre engine, borrowed from its smaller sibling the 320d, and affixed a cheaper sticker price. What does this mean?

It means BMW is going for the kill. Despite having more than 50 per cent of the market share in this segment in India, it wants to increase the appeal of the 5 Series and annihilate the competitition. But does the 2-litre engine have the oomph to match the Five’s incredible dynamic appeal? For starters, the car retains most of its features while becoming the cheapest in its class now. The 520d’s closest rival, the Merc E220 CDi, is more expensive by Rs 2 lakh and doesn’t have as much equipment which makes the 520d even more attractive.

Driving any BMW is a delight. It is not so much about sheer all out acceleration than it is about driver-dynamics. It’s the same with this Bimmer.

With weight distributed evenly over the four wheels, the car turns into a corner with a lot of enthusiasm and confidence. There is loads of grip from the run-flat Dunlop tyres, and communication between the steering and the front tyres is phenomenal as well.

Ride quality

Unlike the 3 Series’ steering, which is hard at parking speeds, the 5 Series’ steering is very light, so it is easy to drive the car at low speeds. But this terrific handling is negated by the stiff ride quality of this car, which makes you feel most potholes at slow city speeds. But the ride improves considerably as speed increases.

The 2.0-litre engine develops 177bhp and performance is good. What’s more, with a massive 35.67kgm of pulling power (torque), acceleration is instant, with no lag whatsoever, which makes the 520d very drivable in city traffic.

Even on the highway it cruises comfortably and the engine also packs a punch at the top end of the power band because the maximum torque comes from 1750-3000rpm, so overtaking is not a chore. The six-speed automatic gearbox also helps its cause, as it is quick to downshift when you floor the throttle. The gear ratios are nicely spaced, because of which the car doesn’t feel wanting for power any time. Of course, it’s no match for the 530d’s much more potent three-litre engine. But if you are chauffeur-driven and only occasionally take the wheel, this engine is more than sufficient to get the job done.

There is hardly any change to the interiors of the new Five — the beige colour and superb quality remain, making it a nice place to be in. The dashboard is uncluttered and the reason for the minimalist interiors is that many functions are housed inside the iDrive system.

The seats are supremely comfortable and spacious, but the rear seats are a tad low and the small windows don’t give you that airy feeling like in the Merc E-Class. Some equipment has been omitted from the 520d, like the TV in the iDrive screen and cruise control — things that you won’t miss much.

So with sufficient power and a lower asking price, the 520d makes a strong case for itself. But if performance is your priority then you may as well go for the 530d — with 235bhp of power, it will give you more thrills than the 520d.

Technical DataBMW 520d

Price: Rs 43.23 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)

Length: 4841 mm

Width: 1468 mm

Height: 1846 mm

Wheelbase: 2888 mm

Turning circle: 11.4 m

Kerb weight: 1520 kg

Engine: 4-cyls-in-line, 1995 cc, turbodiesel

Installation: Front, longtidunal, rear-wheel drive

Power: 177 bhp at 4000 rpm

Torque: 35.67 kgm at 1750-3000 rpm

Suspension: Front: Independent, spring strut, anti-roll bar

Rear: Independent, four-link, anti-roll bar

Gearbox: 6-speed auto

Fuel Tank: 70 litres

Brakes: Front: Ventilated discs

Rear: Discs

Tyre size: 225/50 R17