2021 BMW 520d Road Test Review – Bold Update

BMW is all set to launch the latest version of their best selling Luxury sedan the 5 Series in India. We drove the latest 2021 BMW 520d for our road test review that gets you all the details on what has exactly changed on this the latest German in town.

Food for Thought

BMW introduced the 1st generation of the 5 Series in 1972 also known as the E12. The 5 Series has always been a huge seller for the Munich based car maker having sold more than 8 million vehicles so far making this as one of the decisive factors in BMW’s success story. Currently in its 7th Generation known s the G30 that made its first appearance in 2016. The latest version coming to here is the mid life facelift of the 5 Series also known as the E30 LCI (Life Cycle Impulse). The BMW 5 Series is regarded as the world’s most successful car as It was a bestseller for six years and regular winner of reader and expert polls. The 5 Series uses BMW’s CLAR platform that it shares with the 7 Series.

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Exteriors

The 2021 BMW 5 Series continues with its sporty and athletic looks but comes with loads of bold updates. In terms of dimensions the 2021 version of the 5 Series retains its earlier width, height and wheelbase, what changes is the extra length of 27mm. The 5 Series has always been a trendy looking sedan in all its generations, the 2021 edition sports the latest generation bold BMW Kidney grille with 16 vertical chrome slats and thick chrome surround, this grill comes with the unique BMW auto air flap feature that opens or closes them as and when needed. The front bumper is also all new which sports a wide blacked out air dam along with practical air intake with chrome surrounds on the outer edges. Also coming on the update list are the all new slim design intelligent automatic headlights that feature twin ‘L’ shape DRL in them of which one also doubles up as turn lights when in use. Well these intelligent lights are so futuristic that they sync via GPS and adjust the beam as per the terrain. Finishing off the face is the large low slung bonnet with character lines that defines it.

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Coming to the sides the typical BMW low slung stance is best evident here with sharp defining typical BMW styled waistline that runs across the length. Another character line lower below and air intakes on the gender with ‘L’ shaped surrounds defining it. The 2021 BMW 520d drives on R17 Michelin Sport tyres mounted on multi spoke silver alloys on the Luxury trim that we tested. Windows get the glossy blacked out treatment while the BMW family chrome line runs around the glass area along with the legendary and iconic BMW Hofmeister kink that reaffirms  its Bavarian roots.

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Coming to the rear it is here that you see more of the updates which include an all new sharper bumper with blacked out bottom housing twin chrome exhausts on either corners, slim design stop reflectors and a all new design all LED tail lamp. This three dimensional all LED tail light looks very sporty and unique in its shape and style. The roof gets a electric sun/moon roof and a new design shark fin radio antenna.

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Interiors

On the insides the BMW design language of being driver focused continues with a sporty dashboard made up of premium soft material in place that also sports metal inserts along with glossy wood  band. The lower section of the dash is in tan color while the top in black. The biggest update on the inside is the introduction of the 12.3 inche touch screen infotainment unit that runs on the latest BMW operating system 7.

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You also have the optional Remote Control Parking function which allows the driver to conveniently get out of the vehicle before parking it via remote control which is a special touch screen remote control. You can step out of the car and control the car movement forward and reverse by and thus enter the car into a tight parking space or garage. The Remote Control Parking function is activated by the driver once outside the car, with the BMW display key which came with our test car.

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This unit comes loaded with all the connectivity features which include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, mobile, FM radio, GPS etc. There are 4 ways for controlling the AVN unite, touch, gesture, voice and i-Drive dial. You also get a 4 zone automatic climate control unit with touch screen control.

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The centre console houses the wireless charger port that is closable, BMW i-Drive with glossy black surrounds and metal inserts. You get electro mechanical handbrake, auto hold and the drive mode control buttons along with the i-Drive rotary dial. The seats come in Nappa leather upholstery and full electric adjust for both the front seats which includes electric lumber support too. At the rear you get three manual head rests, foldable arm rest, AC vents with control. For privacy you get manual sun curtain on the windows and a electric curtain for the rear windshield. Seats offer excellent comfort and space. Rear seating is best suited for three due to the transmission hump in the middle though the large seat can easily fit in three.

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The leather wrapped steering is a three spoke design fully electrically adjustable unit with large MFD buttons placed on it having metal surrounds. You get 4 USB C charge ports two in the front and two at the rear. Sound system on the 2021 BMW 5 Series is a Harman Kardon unit playing out some high quality of music. The instrument cluster is the highly customizable all digital virtual cockpit color display reading out all the vital information.

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The 5 Series gets a large boot of 530 litres and also has the space saver spare wheel kept in there taking up some space. You get kick-up opening boot lid (kick gesture control) but no electric close for it.

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Engine – Transmission – Drive

The 2021 BMW 5 Series is available in India as the 520d, 530d and the 530i where d being Diesel engine and i being the Petrol hearted variant. We drove the model that sells the most in India the 5 Series 520d which comes powered with the 2.0L 4-cylinder oil burner that makes 190hp of power and 400Nm of torque. This twin turbo engine gets mated with a 8-speed step-tronic transmission with tip-tronic and paddle shifters for shifting.

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The other variants are the 530d powered with the 6-cylinder 3.0L diesel engine with 265hp and 620Nm of torque. The 530i which gets its power from the 4 cylinder 2.0L gasoline engine making 252hp of power and 350Nm of torque. All the engines come with a 8 speed steptronic automatic transmission.

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How is it to drive?

First things first the diesel engine on the 520d is super silent and highly refined. The drive feel is very positive and reassuring. The gear shifts are super precise and shifting is unnoticed, you can use the paddle shifters if you want more fun. This being a BMW the drive fun factor is super high and always brings a smile to your face. The ride quality is supremely comfortable while the suspension is tuned on the stiffer side being a BMW. Toggling between the drive modes (Comfort, Eco Pro, Sport, Adaptive) alters the suspension, steering feedback, throttle response and gear shifts. We drove mostly in the Eco Pro and Comfort modes with Sport modes left for the highway drives.

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The 520d drives very well in typical BMW fashion; this is one of the best rear wheel drive options to get for total drive pleasure. Power delivery is immense across the engine rpm making it an effortless car to drive. Behind the steering wheel is the place to be on a BMW. The BMW 520d  handles brilliantly, and feels much lighter and smaller to drive than it actually is. Meanwhile it’s also a seriously accomplished cruiser, with an impressively smooth and refined driving experience. This car remains so comfortable and subtle both to drive and look at, but delivering impressive pace when you really need it.

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Verdict

As an all-round premium executive car the 5 Series remains unbeatable. Its mix of quality, sportiness and comfort are unmatched, even next to accomplished rivals such as the Mercedes E-Class. The revisions on this new car have brought the 5 Series back up to speed in the few areas where it was behind competitors, while the range of powertrains on offer is also good. The BMW 5 Series is easily the best car on the lineup to go for if you want the best sporty car to drive with a smile on your face each time you drive it.

Words – Ritesh Madhok
Photography & Video – Govind Gadekar

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