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How much? £29,775
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1995cc 16v four-cyl petrol,
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 9.7sec 0-62mph, 132mph, 62.8mpg, 119g/km CO2
How heavy / made of? 1695kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4899/1860/1464mm
Need to know

CAR's rating

Rated 3 out of 53

Handling

Rated 4 out of 54

Performance

Rated 3 out of 53

Usability

Rated 4 out of 54

Feelgood factor

Rated 3 out of 53

Readers' rating

Rated 4 out of 54

BMW 5-series 518d (2014) CAR review

By James Taylor

First Drives

20 December 2013 15:00

We’re driving a rear-wheel drive, manual gearbox-equipped executive saloon with a BMW roundel on the bootlid, and it costs less than £30k. It sounds like enthusiast heaven.

Hold your horses – this is the 518d. It’s the new entry point to the BMW 5-series range, starting at £29,830 – that’s £1700 less than the next-up 520d will cost you. A Bavarian bargain? Read on for the CAR verdict.

Can you decode ‘BMW 518d’?

This 5-series uses the same 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that’s found in the top-selling model, the 520d. Here, it’s been detuned to deliver 143bhp and 265lb ft – a 520d musters 182bhp and 280lb ft. So, although the 39bhp power deficit looks unhealthy, there’s only 15lb ft less for in-gear surge.

Nevertheless, the 518d holds the unfortunate distinction being the slowest Five you can buy. It touches 62mph in 9.7sec (a 520d takes 8.1 in manual guise, or 7.9sec as an auto). The 518d tops out at 132mph – a 520d is slightly more autobahn friendly, with a 140mph v-max.

Does the 518d feel underpowered?

No, it gets away with the detuning exercise. There’s less overall urge across the rev-range, but you’ll only miss the extra power if you’ve just stepped from a 520d, and the 518d doesn’t feel overly lethargic.

Meanwhile, the F10 5-series’ excellent dynamics are preserved. Controlling proceedings from an excellent, low-set driving position, the 5-series exhibits agility that belies its size, and inspires confidence through its well-weighted (if numb) steering, superb body control, and overall sense of balance.

But is the 518d noticeably more frugal?

This is awkward. The 518d registers identical claimed economy figures to its brawnier 520d sister: namely 62.8mpg, and 119g/km of CO2. In fact, the 520d auto has a 1mpg better figure for its urban cycle… In the real world, you might see an oh-so-slight advantage in the less potent version, but on paper, the only saving you’ll make is in the 518d’s lower purchase price.

All is not lost, though. Option the eight-speed automatic instead of our test car’s slick-shifting six-speed manual for your 518d, and you’re still £200 ahead of the manual 520d. Given the automatic actually makes the 518d slighter quicker (okay, by one tenth to 62mph, but it all helps), achieves its best fuel economy and should boost resale, it’s the pick of the litter.

Anything else?

As part of the unremarkable 2013 facelift, all 5-series are now specified as standard with BMW’s ‘business navigation’ package, which includes sat-nav and a comprehensive multimedia system into the refreshed iDrive interface. A top-spec ‘Professional’ system, supporting downloadable apps and a touch-sensitive iDrive control wheel, costs an extra £1290.

Verdict

Fine car though the 518d is, its small price reduction versus the quicker and (officially) no thirstier 520d makes it difficult to justify as a private purchase.

If your company fleet manages tosses you the keys, accept gratefully, but if you’re walking into the BMW dealership yourself, wait for one more paycheque and take the plunge on the punchier model. The 520d is Britain’s top-selling Five for good reason.

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BMW 5-series 518d (2014) CAR review

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timbo65

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timbo65 says

RE: BMW 5-series 518d (2014) CAR review

Surely this entry level model only exists so BMW can claim the 5 range starts below £30k!! That said the torque is pretty impressive so if you're a gentler driver then, even as a private buy, there's the cost of a nice holiday (or two) to be saved!! They should put this engine with it's extra torque in the 3 series as currently the 318d has less!!

26 December 2013 13:36

 

chrisward1978

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chrisward1978 says

RE: BMW 5-series 518d (2014) CAR review

I wonder if there is a cheap aftermarket solution for reharnessing the missing horses?

23 December 2013 10:40

 

OldDog

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OldDog says

RE: BMW 5-series 518d (2014) CAR review

 I agree with Robby1977, I'm sure in the second hand market they'll be hit and what's saved new will be lost on trade in. Also I seem to see a lot of company owned economy models, which are no doubt bought by cost concious fleet managers, being hammered off the lights by drivers trying to make up for lack of power.

Methinks these should be squarely aimed at the genteel and retired residents of Brighton and Torquay...Who would get the most out of them. 

 

23 December 2013 07:26

 

MAX25

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MAX25 says

RE: BMW 5-series 518d (2014) CAR review

 Interesting thing about the entry-level exec saloon models these days is how you're no longer punished at every visual opportunity that you've had to settle for bargain-basement poverty-spec.  Look at the interior pics here and there's almost no discernible difference between this lowly 518d and a top of the line 550i - no blanked out switches, no 2-star trim and materials, no analogue/rotary radio/climate control - it all looks very much the real upmarket deal.  While I'm sure it's primarily to do with the scale economies of kitting cars out as similarly as possible and the commoditisation of what used to be BHP-related extra kit, it's encouraging to see that a smaller engine choice doesn't mean you're deprived of the owner experience originally intended by the designers.  

22 December 2013 22:09

 

Robby1977

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Robby1977 says

RE: BMW 5-series 518d (2014) CAR review

 I'm convinced that cars of this ilk are of a false economy unless you drive like there's an egg on the accelerator. Any fuel gains made (which the 518 hasn't) are lost when you have to work the engine harder for the likes of overtaking and pulling out on to busy main roads. 

22 December 2013 20:03

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