Sunday, November 07, 2010

Car review: BMW 520d E60 LCI

Model (Code / Model Year): BMW 520d LCI (E60 / 2009)
Engine: 2.0 liter inline 4-cylinder diesel engine
Paintwork: Alpine white non metallic (300)

Interior + interior trim: Black dakota leather (LCSW) + Interior trim brushed aluminium (439)
Optional Equipment: 6-speed automatic gearbox, Styling 243 17-inch star spoke, Navigation system professional with bluetooth and BMW Assist, USB-adapter, Xenon headlights, Park Distance Control (front and rear), Voice control, Glass sunroof, Seat heating (front), Partially electric seats, Automatic air conditioning, Cruise control with brake function
Performance: 177hp / 400nm
0 to 100km/h: 8,4sec
Top speed: 229km/h (143mp/h)
Fuel consumption in liter / 100km (U.S. miles per gallon): 8,3 liter / 100 kilometer (28mpg)
Price (Germany): €55.000

1. Exterior

Normally when a new car makes its way to the dealership, it makes a predecessor that looked just fine the other day, into an outdated and old fashioned car. However, the design of the previous 5-series (E60) was so progressive, that even with the new 5-series (F10) on the market, it still looks like a modern up-do-date business sedan. A design that has been developed by the controversial Mr. Bangle, it was opposed the 7-series (E65), quite well received and outselling its predecessors. In contrast to the bulgy and fat 7-series, the 5-series design was sleek, modern but yet prominently tailored towards the business segment.
Another part of the modern appearance can be attributed to facelift in 2007, or Life Cycle Improvement (LCI) in the BMW nomenclature, which featured new bumpers, LED-light design, as well as several small interior updates (see the “Interior & Technical Features section for the 2009 sat-nav update).
The 5-series could be ordered with the M-Sport package, significantly altering the appearance of the car. Enlarged bumpers and sideskirts, combined with 18- (styling 135M) or 19-inch (styling 172M) alloys gave it a more aggressive and muscular look.

This review focuses on a 2009 BMW 520d LCI with the alpine white, non metallic, color. White has become a very fashionable color on cars, although it suffers the same drawback as black, requiring regular cleaning as dirt and other filth is easily spotted. Silver and grey are colors that are easier to maintain, making dirt and filth is less noticeable. White also tends to absorb the sleek lines of the E60, losing some of the business style appearance.
When opting for a white car, the BMW M-package might be a good consideration, as the enlarged bumpers and sideskirts tend to cancel out this effect.
Proportions can make or break any car design, and choosing the right alloy wheels plays an important role. Alloys should not be to small for the wheel arches, while they certainly should not be too big. As can be seen on the pictures, the car is fitted with a 17-inch wheel (styling 243) that fit the wheel arches perfectly. Several 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels are optional for the E60, while the 520d came standard with a 16-inch wheel.

2. Engine & handling

Over the past few years, alternative sources of propulsion for cars have been proposed, developed and build. The Toyota Prius, the BMW Hybrid7 or the Electric Mini Cooper are just a few examples of the new era of technology. As with every new technology, it still has its drawbacks. High cost, limited practicability (range) and durability are obstacles that will refrain consumers from buying these kind of cars, and therefore most of the cars sold are still powered by traditional petrol- and diesel engines.

But can a traditional diesel engine not only be efficient, but also deliver enough performance to for a luxury premium sedan?

Yes it can!

Under the bonnet are 177 horses that are more than sufficient to get the car going, in normal traffic conditions the driver has enough power in reserve to master every situation. When accelerating, the amount of torque plays is an important factor, and the 520d possesses a satisfactory 350nm. The 520dA is mated with a perfectly working 6-speed automatic gearbox, that keeps the amount of revs low, while shifting gears is only noticeable by the change in engine noise and revs.
Only when hitting speeds in excess of 160km/h (100mp/h), it because noticeable that the 520d is “merely” a 2.0 liter engine lacking the acceleration that is offered by 6-cylinders. Another negative aspect is that when the engine is revved above 2500rpm, the engine noise becomes too noticeable. However, both critiques will rarely apply for most drivers.

The most remarkable aspect is the fuel economy, or moreover the fuel efficiency. Driving in Germany above 200km/h (125mp/h) has resulted in a fuel consumption of around 9 liters, while slower driving amounts to a range as low as 6 liters per 100km (39,2 mpg / US). This is where its strength comes into play, as the trip computer will show a maximum range exceeding 1100km (730 miles), saving the owner of a 520d money and time, as the need for refueling on a regular basis decreases. In Europe it is rarely called that way, but in the United States this extra range would receive the predicate “convenience”.

Although the 525d only has 20hp (197hp) more compared to the 520d, the 3.0 liter R6-cylinder engine that is mounted does provide a smoother and less noisier drive. The increase in performance is limited, but requires about 1liter/100km extra in fuel consumption. Fixed costs are roughly the same as for the 530d, but this engine does have noticeable extra power, therefore being a better choice when opting for a 6-cylinder engine.

If Dom Pérignon is the champagne for the connoisseur, BMWs 6-cylinder in-line petrol engine is the engine for the connoisseur. BMW has always been famous for producing one of the best, if not the best engine in this segment. Equipped with 218hp, it has more hp and a higher top speed then the 525d while the amount of torques (270nm vs. 400nm) is significantly lower.
Compared to the diesel engine (525d), the 525i lacks a turbo, resulting in the maximum performance being achieved only above 4000 revs. However, the engine is very quiet, and delivers its power in a smooth and linear way, resulting in a more comfortable drive.
The main drawback of a petrol engine is the fuel consumption, the 525i ranges between 8 and 12 liter / 100km (29,4 to 19,6mpg / US), curtailing the range compared to the diesel engines.

After the introduction of the facelift in 2007, BMW did have minor problems with the injectors (in the 523i, 525i and 530i). In the 3rd quarter of 2008 these problems were resolved, therefore if buying a car from that period, one might want to pay extra attention to see if the injectors were successfully replaced.

3. Interior & Technical Features

Although there usually is only one facelift during the lifecycle of a car, each car manufacturer makes small changes each year. Usually the consumer does not even notice these changes, but sometimes they are somewhat larger. In 2007, the facelift introduced minor changes to the interior design. It still looks very clean and modern, yet it might be perceived as cold. The design of the door and the position of the buttons for the windows has changed, and new materials / colors have also found its way into the E60. Unfortunately the window buttons are positioned a bit awkward, mistakenly opening the rear windows while aiming for the front windows. Another spot of bother is the automatic air conditioning, the system looks somewhat outdated when compared to that of the other BMW ranges which are easier to operate, partially due to the LED-screens displaying the temperature for both sides independently. Apart from that, the interior gives a solid and premium impression, while the rest of the buttons and the iDrive system can be reached intuitively.
After the E60 was facelifted in 2007, BMW did introduce a new satellite navigation + harddisk storage space in 2009, which effectively brought this equipment onto the same same level introduced with new 7-series (F01) and the new 5-series (F10). Better graphics, more information and improved connectivity with online services provide the driver not only with a simple navigation, but with a wide array of information. With the touch of a button, the car (that has a separate SIM-card installed) connects the driver with a call-center operator that is able to answer any question posed to him. The car sends through the sat-nav system the exact location to the operator, that in turn can send the driver the required address directly onto the satnav (just hit confirm, and the route is calculated).
Shortly before the new sat nav system was introduced, BMW also added a new iDrive controller to the E60, including extra buttons for faster operation of the systems.

4.Optional Equipment

This section discusses (part of) the optional equipment available on the E60. Ranking from 1 (definitely a yes), 2 (nice to have, but not a minimum requirement) to 3 (not worth the money).

  • The quality of the Dakota leather is satisfactory, only after time it tends so start signs of wear. However, leather is easier to clean then cloth, and if it is properly maintained (BMW leather polish) its good condition will be sustained for a couple of years. Leather gives a car a more premium atmosphere, and would definitely be an option worth considering. (ranking: 1)
  • Xenon headlights, give the car a business look and more “overtaking prestige” in the left lane. Certainly worth the money. (ranking: 1)
  • 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels are giving the car the right proportions, also a good option to spend your money on. (ranking: 1)
  • The standard steering wheel is sufficient, so the sport steering wheel would only be nice to have (ranking: 2)
  • Lane-departure warning, if not paying attention, it is a good feature to help refocus on driving. However, in some situations it might annoy the driver when passing the lines on the road. (ranking: 2)
  • Head-up-display, should help the driver keep focused on the road, but without it the navigation screen and speedometer do the job just as fine. (ranking: 3)
  • Active cruise control, very nice system to have, but it only can be used in a limited amount of situations. When it is too busy, it leaves too much space, so that other cars drive into the safety distance. (ranking: 3)
  • HiFi system & HiFi system professional Logic7, the standard system can only be used moderately, a larger HiFi system is advisable. Depending on personal preference, either the Hifi or the Logic7. (Hifi ranking: 1; Logic7 ranking: 2)
  • USB-adapter, allows for extra flexibility plus a wider selection of music, connecting a USB-stick or iPod, no more hassle with changing CDs. (ranking: 1)
  • Bluetooth, perfect for connecting every type of telephone, controlling the phone through the buttons on the steering wheel. (ranking: 1)
  • Sports- or comfort seats, if the standard seats are not sufficient, then opt for these seats, otherwise the standard seats in combination with lumbar support are also perfectly suited. (ranking: 2)
  • Automatic air conditioning, allows for a dual-zone setup + easier operation of the climate settings. (ranking: 1)
  • Electric sunroof, allows extra light into the car, and in good weather enables the driver to enjoy the wind / sun a bit more. However, at speeds above 100km/h (60mp/h) it makes too much noise. (ranking: 2)
If looking for a second hand E60, you might want to look at the edition packages (edition exclusive, edition lifestyle and edition sport). To increase the sales at the end of the production run, BMW introduced these packages by offering higher levels of options (leather, specials alloys, special paintwork and other options etc.) for a competitive price.

Final thoughts:

After driving a total of 14.000 kilometers (8750 miles) in several versions of the E60, this car can be recommended as a good choice for second hand business sedan, that still has enough potential to keep up with today's new models.
The best value for money is provided by the 520d, the performance it has is sufficient, but the 4-cylinder engine keeps the costs in terms of fuel economy, taxes, and insurance relatively low. It is a very reliable car that, the engine and transmission have no specific problems, and if being properly driven the turbo can also stay with one for a significant amount of kilometers.
When buying a MY2009 model, it has already encountered steep depreciation after the first year, and also as a result of the introduction of the new 5-series (F10). In Germany prices for a used MY2009 520d E60 (option levels comparable to 4. Optional Equipment) range from €32.000 to €36.000, a percentage wise depreciation between 35% and 41%.

If you might have any questions left, feel free to contact me through the comments below!

Look here for more pictures of the BMW 520d:

Next episode: Mercedes Benz E220 CDI W212

Note, in this review the options and packages in Germany are discussed, so small details might deviate from local standards.


rishimohan said...

Hey buddy! Thats a great review there. Im a 520d owner myself. Just a quick question for you.. Is the 520d a rear wheel drive or front wheel drive?

Skipper said...

The BMW 520d is, like most BMW's (apart from the 4-wheel-drive xDrive) rear wheel drive.

Anonymous said...

I am considering to buy 520d E60 and your review is the most useful information to make my decision. Many thanks.

Does 520d 2009 model come with run flat tyres? Cheers.

Skipper said...

That depends on the car, standard they are equipped with run flat tyres, but if the previous owner changed them they also could be without them.

Rj Maan said...

The BMW E60 is really one of the best BMW vehicle and the BMW E60 Repairing and Servicing Manuals are available and i recommend it to those who want to repair their car all by themself.

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