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How much? £38,160
On sale in the UK: Now (spec box for 530d M Sport)
Engine: 2993cc straight-six turbodiesel, 232bhp @ 4000rpm, 368lb ft @ 1750-3000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 6.8secs 0-62mph, 155mph, 44.1mpg, 170g/km CO2
How heavy / made of? 1655kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4841/1846/1468
Need to know

CAR's rating

Rated 4 out of 54

Handling

Rated 4 out of 54

Performance

Rated 4 out of 54

Usability

Rated 4 out of 54

Feelgood factor

Rated 4 out of 54

Readers' rating

Rated 2.5 out of 52.5

BMW 530d/520d (2009) CAR review

By Ben Pulman

First Drives

27 January 2009 11:38

When faced with the all-new Mercedes E-class, the apparently new Audi A6 and Jaguar’s XF, it’s all too easy to forget about the executive saloon segment’s benchmark, the BMW 5-series. With a replacement due in 2010, we at CAR thought it time to reappraise the Five. Not least because CAR Online wasn’t around when the current 5-series was first launched, so we don't have many reviews on our site. So read on for our 'first' web drive of the latest BMW 530d and 520d.

I think I know the BMW 5-series pretty well, but remind me what it’s about...

The 5-series is what BMW does best. The 1-series isn’t much better than a Golf and the Three is too ubiquitous for more discerning clientele, while the big 7-series is still beaten by the Mercedes S-class around these parts. But the Five stands proud, arguably the best mainstream car BMW makes.

The current 5-series was originally introduced in 2003 (and the public’s love-hate relationship with the styling seems to have mellowed since then), and we drove the facelifted car in 2007, when BMW’s EfficientDynamics technology was introduced to the range. That means regenerative braking (actually just intelligent charging of the alternator), a gearshift indicator and active aerodynamics – meaning flaps over the air intakes don’t open when the engine’s cold. There's no stop-start technology (or start-stop as BMW calls it) on the current Five though, but the next-gen car will have it.

How does the current car stack up with its engines?

The 530d really is all the car you ever need. Sure, the 535d (really the same 3.0-litre straight six, but with twin turbos to the 530d’s single blower) is faster, but you don’t need that extra grunt. Believe us, 232bhp and 368lb ft is perfectly acceptable. It pushes you along on that wave of torque, and even adds a pleasing (albeit muted) straight six howl.

Our test car was a manual, so it should do a claimed 44.1mpg and only puff out 170g/km CO2; despite its 1655kg kerbweight, it’ll still hit 62mph in 6.8 seconds. More importantly, it’ll pile on thrust through the mid-range, making overtaking dawdlers a doddle.

The manual shift itself is pretty good, typically BMW with a real mechanical feel, though those used to finger-light Audi shifts might find it a little arthritic.

Our car was equipped with the M Sport pack, which adds a fancy gearstick and steering wheel, sports seats, 18-in alloys, sports suspension and a bodykit. It’s a £3065 extra, and but although we like the bulging body addendum and seats, we much prefer the standard suspension (it’s firm enough with those run flat tyres) and thinner non-M steering wheel.

>> Click 'Next' below to read our review of the BMW 520d

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Average rating: Rated 2.5 out of 52.5 (131 votes)

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V12 Migaloo

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V12 Migaloo says

RE: BMW 530d/520d (2009) CAR review

The Five is without doubt a great car but it's not as good as the XF, although at the moment the huge discounts BMW dealers are giving with slightly used models outweighs all the superior driving characteristics of the new XF, thats why I've just bagged a 525i M Sport Auto, 10 months old, 3,300miles, believe it or not it has lost £2,200 per month "GULP" However own either car and drive it in isolation and you will be a happy man.

03 February 2009 11:50

 

KiwiRob

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KiwiRob says

RE: BMW 530d/520d (2009) CAR review

The E65 was the most popular 7 ever even though it was by far the ugliest car on the road at its launch, god knows why people liked it but they do, the e90 isn't as good looking as the e46 but it's one of the ten best selling cars in Europe. The 5 series is the yard stick for midsized executive cars and one of the biggest selling so if Bangle is a failure I really wonder how well BMW would have done if he was a success. I'm also sure that the 5 has been a success especially with people like my granddad who has bought a new 5 evey 4-5 years since he replaced his XJ6 in 74 with an e12.

02 February 2009 08:16

 

JohnnyBimmer

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JohnnyBimmer says

RE: BMW 530d/520d (2009) CAR review

Kiwi - just to repeat for a third time I'm in complete agreement we buy BMW's for their engineering/quality so base camp established. The issue is has Bangle added value to the sheet metal and interiors of BMW since he came or has he as many opinion mangled the once smooth and handsome late great 5-Series legend? Have long time fans of this svelte tank (mid-Exec icon) been kicked in the nuts? Have sales suffered when customers see the double-chinned boot and wince like the dentists drill has hit their nerve ending? These are questions never raised before Mr Mangle arrived

02 February 2009 01:59

 

KiwiRob

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KiwiRob says

RE: BMW 530d/520d (2009) CAR review

JohnnyBimmer BMW's have never been beautiful cars like say Jaguar or Alfa, Germans don't do beautiful cars, they do handsome cars but not beautiful. A BMW is a piece of engineering, that's why people buy them. I love the looks of the 5 series, if I had the money there would be a 520d Touring in my garage instead of my 318d touring. The e90 isn't a good looking car, especially the sedan, but people don't buy them for the looks they buy them because they are German, premium, well engineered, percieved performance and because they are a BMW.

01 February 2009 20:27

 

JohnnyBimmer

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JohnnyBimmer says

RE: BMW 530d/520d (2009) CAR review

Brando - you think the 5 is great and I think its crap. Never the twain shall meet. What is debateable is how the market sees it and I can tell you from my experience the launch fell flat on its face, the sales dried up for approx a year and BMW hand cuffed their entire sales force to wince through a sit-in on how Bangle was a misunderstood genius. To date I've yet to meet anybody that admires the 5 series sheet metal (except my girlfriend). You allude to sales but as I've proposed thats entirely due to the 5 being sold as a very well enginered 'appliance'. You buy a 5 in the same way as a Toyota, for its inherent engineering integrity, not like an Alfa Romeo for its beauty. If BMW were to boot Bangle and return to their uber svelte European design roots the 5 would fly out (again). Bangle is a bottleneck to those extra sales won by cohesive designers. Audis success despite its poorer driving feel I suggest is precisely because their designs are sound and have picked up many ex-BMW customers wincing in pain from BMW showrooms

01 February 2009 17:58

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