BMW 5 Series – Trying Too Hard To Remain Relevant?

BMW 520i

IN the early years of its existence, the 5 Series was an aspirational car. It had that executive feel about it that elevated one’s sense of status. 

That was the era of the growing multi-national corporations and being an executive meant you were at least on the ladder up.

But then, it was a simpler time.

Today’s multi-faceted society running on many fronts makes for a demanding environment for brands trying to reach as many potential customers as possible.

Still, the 5 Series has held its own for a long time, regardless of the intrusions of electric vehicles and other models that cater to the needs of different sectors in society.

In Singapore’s wildly fluctuating pricing environment — thanks to the gamble of not knowing where the needle will land with each round of COE bidding — it becomes even more challenging.

But pedigree helps and in the last 15 years more than 16,000 units of the 5 Series have been sold.

Today, the new mild-hybrid BMW 520i rolls off the showroom floor at over $350K*. 

BMW 520i

What do you get for that?

A two-litre, 4-cylinder, in-line 16 valve TwinPower Turbocharged engine that does a good job of propelling you from 0-100kmh in just over eight seconds.

The latest 5 has grown, compared to it’s predecessor, edging past the 5-metre mark. But then it would have to, considering how much the 3 Series has grown over the years.

BMW 520i

The external styling of the new 5 Series gives it a sporty look but keeps to the family lines for its sedan range. The furrowed bonnet frames the twin headlights and BMW kidney grille. The side view is softened by curves in the metal and an embossed 5 on the C-pillar (in case you forget which variant you’re driving), and it ends off with a flat back with highlights at the base.

The doors require a firm touch. You can’t let it close on its own steam. You do have to yank or push it shut. 

And for all that added length, it’s still quite tight at the back. Most of the additional space seems to have gone into the boot.

That said, roominess is not an issue in front, as the comfortable seats face a hexagonal, multi-function steering wheel, a very long, curved display, theatrical lighting projected through faceted translucent casings and a centre console that is kept flat and devoid of buttons.

BMW 520i

Choice of drive modes

The drive modes are controlled on the centre console, but, like the doors, requires some firmness to engage. It only offers you a few real drive options, of which sport is the most engaging. It holds the gear longer and makes its presence felt in the cabin. Also you don’t have to worry about the auto start/stop function kicking in. 

In all drive modes the 520i is smooth. It runs effortlessly, weaving through obstacles with enough grunt to give you the confidence in its capabilities. Like the 3 Series, it’s become a smooth, accomplished ride. To the point that it seems to lack a distinct identity.

BMW 520i

Interior mayhem

The interior trim of the 520i is a mash up of all sorts. The centre console has a piano finish that leaves loads of fingerprints and where dust in the car seems to gravitate towards. The Veganza interior is full vegan (if you want some real cow to rest on, the Moreno leather is an option)and it will be interesting to see how it stands the test of time. 

The metal grille of the Harmon/Kardon sound system adds to the textural mix, but it sounds good.

BMW 520i

The long touchscreen is hard to reach when driving — you shouldn’t have to — but, when you change driving modes, it doesn’t go back to the screen you were originally on…like the map! So, you do have to poke at it. And be careful of hand gestures, it might just dim your screen altogether!

The hexagonal steering is easy enough to manage with a few key functions — audio, cruise control — within reach. Paddle shifters let you drop gears to handle corners, inclines or for that added punch to go past the stragglers.

As a special treat, there are 20 units of the 520i fitted out with a special Titanium bronze trim, along the doors, near the exhaust, on the rims, kidney grille, on the dash in the form of odd squiggles that look like imperfections, and the plate with the embossed 5 on the C pillar.

BMW 520i

I don’t find these touches attractive, but then, taste is a subjective thing.

BMW 520i


Styling: 7/10

Interior: 6.5/10

Connectivity: 7/10

Ride: 6.5/10

Handling: 6.5/10

Power: 8/10

Overall: 7/10

*Please reconfirm price with dealer.

Read more STORM-ASIA car reviews HERE.

See also  Keeping The Wheels Turning


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