MT Reviews: BMW 520d M Sport Saloon

The executive's favourite just gets better and better, not least as it has taken a leaf out of Apple's book, says Sathnam Sanghera.

by Sathnam Sanghera
Last Updated: 27 Feb 2014

There are many companies out there that have noted the success of Apple and tried to ride it in some way. And BMW is no exception. It was one of the first manufacturers to market the slick iPhone connectivity of its cars. It has an electric car in production called the i3.

But the difference between BMW and most other companies is that its vehicles do increasingly feel like actual Apple products.

Take the 'new' 5 Series, for instance, whose distinct Apple flavour is evident in the simple fact of its omnipresence. You cannot go anywhere in the world without someone producing an iPhone, and it is similarly impossible to enter any corporate car park without seeing this saloon, the sixth generation of which is the most successful in the model's 41-year history, with more than one million models sold in just over three years.

Then there is the fact that the changes made during product 'upgrades' are so minor that only aficionados notice the difference. Apparently, the new 5 Series features reprofiled headlamps, aerodynamic additions to the wheel arches, additional contour lines around the BMW kidney grille, a re-structured lower air intake, chrome strips bordering the central control display and more.

But, as with the iPad 2 and iPad 3, you'd struggle to spot the differences even when they are placed next to each other.

However, the most profound parallel is the user experience. Apple products are blindingly easy to use and so is the 5 Series. It may take a minute or two to adjust mirrors and seats, but after that it is plain sailing.

You know where everything is in the cabin because BMW dashboards haven't really changed in a decade. You can immediately put your foot down because the driving position is so comfortable, the handling supreme, the gearbox instinctively responsive and the grip unending.

Everything just works. A seven year-old could probably drive it as well as you. And that brings me to the one downside. The Bluetooth connection to my phone kept on cutting out. It turned out, of course, to be a problem with my phone and not my test model. My chosen phone make? A Samsung Galaxy. And that's the thing.

The problem with making something this perfect is that it becomes so popular that you create a desire among some people to have something different. Just for the sake of it.


SPECIFICATION - BMW 520d M Sport Saloon

PRICE: £34,330

ENGINE: 1,995 cc, Twin Power turbodiesel, four cylinders Transmission

six-speed manual


(combined cycle) CO2 emissions 119 g/km

POWER: 184 bhp @ 4,000 rpm Torque 280 lb/ft @ 1,750 rpm

0-62 mph 8.1 seconds

TOP SPEED: 145 mph

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