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15 Jan 2018

What We Dislike
Not the variant for the power-hungry

The base model BMW 5 Series, the 520i, still offers up copious amounts of handsome style, effortless comfort and driving delight.

If it feels like you've already read too many reviews about the new BMW 5 Series, you're probably right. This particular one, the 520i, is the fifth variant we have driven. There is the 540i, the 530i, the plug-in hybrid 530e, as well as a 520d Touring we drove in Portugal.

So what's the point then? Well, simply put, this 520i is the base-model, and the cheapest 5 Series on the sale. Thus, it's probably the one many Singaporean buyers will immediately gravitate to. 

The 2.0-litre engine produces a modest but absolutely usable 184bhp and 290Nm of torque

What's missing? 

There, there, don't be so cynical. The truth is that very little is 'missing' compared to the 530i Luxury, the next immediate step upwards in the range. The only difference is the rims and the power churned out by the 2.0-litre engine under the bonnet. 

This isn't some 'budget-spec' version of the car. If anything, it still comes extremely well-equipped. You've got the same gesture control system, the same parking camera views (with the cool yet functional 360-degree view), and everything about the car feels identical (because it is). 

In Comfort mode, the 520i is extremely quiet and serene

The big difference is under the bonnet - the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine produces a more modest 184bhp and 290Nm of torque. In comparison, the 530i's engine produces 248bhp and 350Nm of torque, whilst the 540i produces 335bhp and 450Nm of torque.

Is it slow? Certainly not. Yes, if you're the sort of person that enjoys rocketing off the line at traffic lines and constantly overtaking cars on the highway, then yes, the 520i isn't the car for you. But for most drivers (and we suspect most 5 Series owners are of a more mature disposition), this engine is more than enough. It's still faultlessly smooth and refined, and you can easily cruise along at 90km/h without any fuss. 

It also drives and rides exactly as you'd expect - comfortable, serene and pliant when driven sensibly, yet alert, reactive and sharp when you decide to push it harder. Basically, it's got all the qualities of the 5 Series you want, and very little of any drawback at all.

The spacious, high-tech and luxurious cabin is an absolutely joyous place to be in

So it's value for money?

In a way. It's still not a car you could reasonably call 'cheap' - it's got a $260,888 pricetag (as of 12th January 2018). However, it is $16,000 cheaper than the 530i Luxury, $19,000 cheaper than the 530e, and a whopping $102,000 cheaper than the 540i M Sport.

One of the reasons that we love the new 5 Series so much (and awarded it our 2017 Car of the Year title), is because it is still very much a driver's car. It handles with a level of dynamism that is unmatched in its class. 

Stylish, comfortable and premium, the BMW 520i is easily the buyer's choice

However, we understand that most 5 Series buyers may not share this same enthusiasm. They are in it for the comfort, the promise of luxury and, of course, the badge and all its associated qualities. In this regard, the 520i is easily the buyer's choice.
Car Information
This model is no longer being sold by local distributors


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Engine Type


4-cylinder in-line 16-valve TwinPower Turbocharged

Engine Cap





137kW (184 bhp) / 6500 rpm



290 Nm / 4250 rpm



8-Speed (A) Steptronic

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)



Top Speed



Fuel consumption



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bmw  bmw 5 series  5 series  520i  bmw 520i