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    LONGTERMERS #BMW-F10 / #BMW-520d-SE / #BMW-520d / #BMW-520d-F10 / #BMW / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-F10
    CAR: BMW-F10 / BMW-520d SE /
    YEAR: #2016
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 20,149
    MPG THIS MONTH: 39.2
    TOTAL COST: nil

    Fate has played a hand in my story this month. The other day I was ruefully thinking how it was going to be yet another ‘quiet month’ for OU16, and then a rock came sailing over a fence, hit my car, and all that changed. My daughter attends an afterschool club and it was while I was collecting her from there that the trouble started. The car park is next to a sports field, but separated from it buy a high, solid fence.
    Evidently, what had happened was that one of the ‘sportsmen’ on the other side had found the lump of stone in the grass and thought the simplest thing to do was to lob it over the fence.

    The trouble was, of course, that they’d obviously not thought about what or who might be on the other side – or, worse still, didn’t care. I was sitting in the car as my wife and daughter approached, and was about to start the engine when, ’crack!’, the stone landed out of the blue, literally.

    The loudness of the impact certainly gave me a shock; it was like close-proximity gunfire. My first thought was for my wife and daughter so I jumped out of the car to check on them but, thankfully, they were both fi ne. Initially a little confused, I then spotted the rock on the ground and the damaged windscreen.
    Now, as much as I like my car, it is insured and repairable. What a different story it would have been had the rock hit a person. As I write this, Autoglass is booked in to visit and, for a 75 quid excess, will fit a new windscreen.
    Needless to say, ‘nobody saw nuffink, guvna’ when I went round into the sports field to investigate. Even though I could tell by the body language of some of the youths that they knew full well what had happened, nobody was prepared to own up and take responsibility.

    I’ve had no luck taking the matter further, with the authorities responsible for booking the playing field, the police or my local MP. I’m still waiting to hear from the latter but, to be honest, I’m not holding my breath. In many ways, I think I’d rather that it had stayed a quiet month, after all.

    Thrown ‘blind’ from a nearby sports field, this rock could have done some serious damage. ‘Luckily’ it hit my front screen rather than a person. Autoglass is coming to the rescue.
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    Bob BMW
    BOB HARPER … laments the lost art of the sensible, pre-drive check / #BMW / #2017 / #BMW-520d / #BMW-520d-E61 / #BMW-E61

    When I was younger and we were about to set off on a longer journey – and despite what my children think, this didn’t involve a horse and cart – the trip could never be started without going through the pre-drive ritual.

    This was invariably performed by my father or my uncle (a mechanic by trade), who would busy themselves under the bonnet with a small child (me) in tow, desperate to be allowed to get his hands dirty.

    The oil level was carefully checked and then rechecked if a top-up had been required. Coolant was examined, the brake fluid level was carefully scrutinised and the washer bottle’s contents were inspected. Obviously, all this was done before the car had been moved that day (and on level ground), to ensure the most accurate of results.

    It wasn’t just under the bonnet though, as tyres were also carefully assessed. Their pressures were measured with a hand-held gauge because, apparently, the gauges you found on petrol station forecourts ‘couldn’t be trusted to be accurate’ and, anyway, as the car would have to be driven to the forecourt the tyres would get warm, leading to an increase in pressure. If the car was to be fully laden, then the tyres would be correctly inflated to account for the heavier load.

    Looking back, though, these methodical checks certainly paid off, as I can’t remember once breaking down as a result of something that could have been checked and remedied before the journey started. There was that time the fan belt snapped on the A38… but you can be assured that, following that inconvenience, future pre-trip checks included a careful examination of the offending item, and that a spare was ever-present in the boot.

    Nowadays, though, the art of the pre-journey check appears to have fallen by the wayside. Are modern cars that much more reliable and less likely to use (or leak) oil? Do they succumb less to coolant leaks and do modern tyres miraculously never lose pressure, pick-up damage and self-inflate to account for a heavy load?

    Well, I’ll hold my hands up; I’m as guilty as the next person for neglecting these checks half the time, although I do try to remember to keep a regular eye on the tyres. This followed a scary, near-death experience with my E61 520d, when the inner edges were down to the wire while we attempted a top-speed run on the Autobahn.

    The non-profit organisation, Tyresafe, reckons that at least one in four vehicles on our roads has some sort of tyre defect, and that’s before you even consider over- or under-inflation. Modern tyrepressure monitoring systems are very good and will inform you of a loss of pressure but, how much better to pre-empt trouble by checking the pressures before setting off, and preventing a detail becoming a drama?

    Increasingly, we have warning lights for everything, but surely it’s better to check before you set off and prevent a possible hiccup en route? If you suddenly get a warning light saying you’re low on oil half-way through a journey, good luck with finding the right oil at a service station; they’d rather sell you a Ginster’s pasty or an over-priced sandwich, than a litre of oil these days.

    What’s more, if your coolant warning light flashes on during a trip, you more or less have to stop immediately or risk doing further damage, then wait for ages while the temperatures drop enough to allow you to investigate further. Once again, surely better to have checked this before leaving. And don’t forget, as service intervals climb ever-higher, it’s less likely that your garage will pick up on these problems.

    My son’s just passed his driving test and, apparently, you get taught to check these things these days… So perhaps I’ll make it one of his chores to check my car each week, to ensure the family tradition doesn’t become a thing of the past.

    Good luck with finding the right oil at a service station; they’d rather sell you a Ginster’s pasty.
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    Stunning new 5 Series driven in the UK for the ¬ first time… #BMW ’s best-ever Five? The new 5 Series packs an impressive technical punch but how does in fare on UK roads in entry-level 520d guise? Words: Bob Harper. Photography: BMW. Technical Perfection Our first drive of the UK-spec G30 5 Series in 520d form – could it be the best-ever Five? #2017

    To a certain extent I feel like I’ve grown up with the 5 Series. Back in my youth I will admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the E12 and E28 generations as I felt they were a bit too angular and old hat, but when the E34 hit the streets which coincided with my working career starting at a #BMW dealer I felt that it really personified the company. Its styling was sleek and rounded, its performance was excellent for its day and the refinement levels were better than anything I’d ever encountered. And from a service department perspective I loved it as it was bombproof and its drivers had few complaints.

    Since then we’ve gone through the E39 which was like an E34 but even better, the quirky E60 and then onto the more traditionally styled F10 generation which took the Five on to almost 7 Series levels of refinement and equipment. And now we have the all-singing, all-dancing G30 generation, a car which offers everything a Seven does with a few extra bits of technology thrown in for good measure. As I’m now into my 30th year of BMW devotion it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve driven every generation of Five so I’m itching to discover quite how this seventh generation machine stacks up against its illustrious forefathers.

    Given the glowing reports that came back from the international launch of the 530d and the 540i I’ve got a pretty good idea that it’s going to be a belter, but how will the smallest-engined model stack up? While you’d expect the more powerful models to perhaps be the pick of the range the most important model in the line up is the 520d – it’s the biggest seller by quite some margin and vital for the all-important UK fleet market. And with almost 60 percent of UK spec Fives ordered in M Sport flavour it’s the 520d M Sport we’re going to get to grips with here. Straight out of the box one of these will set you back £39,025, and this being a press car it’s been loaded up with quite a few, but by no means all, the options bringing its on the road price to an eyebrow raising £47,715.

    That’s not to say that in standard trim the 520d M Sport is devoid of kit, it’s just that there are so many tasty options that can be added. Standard kit includes two zone auto air con, an ‘airstream’ front grille, ambient interior lighting, Dakota leather, the eight-speed automatic gearbox, cruise control, Professional navigation, ConnectedDrive and LED headlights. M Sport adds the usual expected aerokit and a smattering of M specific accoutrements along with 18-inch alloys on the 520d. Our particular car also has the M Sport Plus package (at a fiver shy of £2000) which includes 19-inch M double spoke alloys (Style 664), sun protection glass and a Harman Kardon loudspeaker system. While we’re discussing the kit we should note the Technology package which includes the head-up display, enhanced Bluetooth, gesture control Wifi hotspot preparation and a 7 Series style display key. That little lot adds £1500. Then there’s a £1995 Comfort package that comprises Comfort access, reversing camera, electric front seats and folding exterior mirrors. Plus we have Variable Damper Control (£985), soft close door (£435), a glass sunroof (£995), split-folding rear seats (£335) and Piano black BMW Individual interior trim at £560.

    That’s this car’s spec done with, but in terms of vital stats we’ve got the familiar 190hp four-cylinder diesel from the F10 generation which endows the car with a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 146mph. It’s the car’s impressive on-paper economy and emissions figures that make it such a convincing fleet car though and at 65.6mpg and 114g/km one has to admit that it makes a pretty devastating case for itself. More on that later.

    I must admit that I perhaps wasn’t totally convinced by the styling when I first saw the pictures of the Five in all it’s glory for the first time, but now I’ve lived with it for a while I do admire it without perhaps loving it. I like the sleek frontal look and think the rear, especially the lights, are better resolved than those on the F10 and there’s some lovely detailing like the double Hofmeister kink but perhaps overall it looks a little bit too much like a 7 Series? Perhaps I’ll grow to love it as the months go on, but at the moment I’ll say I like it without falling head over heels for it. Aesthetics are very much a matter of personal taste so we’ll move swiftly onto the interior.

    Next month you’ll be able to read the thoughts of a current 5 Series driver on the G30 but I’m smitten with the inside of the Five. I think it looks utterly modern and stylish and it’s an ergonomic work of art. When BMW first started ‘plonking’ the display monitor on the top of the dash I thought it looked a little strange, but I’m sold now and it seems that most other manufacturers are following BMW’s lead in this respect. The monitor itself is huge and has amazing definition and the new head-up display is likewise hugely crisp and 70 per cent larger than it was previously. If I were speccing a new car heated seats would be at the top of my list, but as the new Five comes with these as standard the HUD would be first on my list. I think it’s a significant step forward in road safety and to have your speed, warnings and sat nav instructions displayed in such a crisp fashion without you having to take your eyes off the road is a major plus.

    I’m less convinced by the way you can now use the monitor as a touch screen. I suppose it simply gives customers a wider choice and I can see that it’s useful to be able to pinch and zoom on the map as you would with a tablet or smartphone, but to use it while driving is a major step back as far as I’m concerned, and in certain situations is downright dangerous as to use it you have to take your eyes off the road. With familiarity when using the iDrive controller you can devote the majority of your attention to the road while seeing the screen in the corner of your eye. There have also been a couple of changes to the Five’s steering column stalks too – the indicator stalk now moves and stays in position rather than just requiring a flick (a system that came in an the E60 Five and has been on more or less every model since). And then on the wiper stalk the button on the end which used to operate the intermittent function has been dropped and you push the stalk up to position one for intermittent. It’s not a major point but I always liked the previous set up, and it almost goes without saying that the programming for the intermittent wipers is typically awful and during my time with the car I had the wipers both dashing dementedly across the screen at full speed when it was virtually dry as well as giving the occasional desultory sweep during monsoon conditions. Given all the impressive tech this car is packing it’s almost beyond belief that this can’t be improved. It’s a range-wide problem and really needs addressing.

    Other interior observations are that the new switching for the majority of the heating and ventilation controls and the Drive Performance Control switches are a step backwards with less of a quality feel than before. The ConnectedDrive functions are impressive though, especially the online music streaming (Deezer was used in this car with excellent results) and Apple Car Play which will read out your SMS messages in a slightly amusing robotic voice. Indeed, the whole voice recognition system seems to be a big step up from previous systems. Bar the aforementioned switches the interior feels hewn from granite and has a lovely fit and finish… the only really disappointing aspect on the inside is the rear legroom which still looks pretty mean if the driver is of above average height and certainly much stingier than in the Active Tourer I drove this month – not good enough for a car that’s almost as long as an E65 Seven was.

    So, that was a bit of a nit-picking session, but ultimately what you’ll want to know is how the new Five drives. In a nutshell, brilliantly. Performance is as expected, brisk without being stellar, but this is the entry-level model and to be honest it never feels wanting in this respect. Where the car really scores is in its refinement levels – road noise is very well subdued, there’s nary a whisper of wind noise until you’re up into licence losing territory (and even then it’s pretty well muted) and it’s ride comfort is second to none. During my time with the car I covered big distances – we’re talking the best part of 10 hours behind the wheel at a time and I certainly didn’t feel overly fatigued at the end of the day and there really aren’t all that many cars you can say that about.

    I can’t comment on how a Five on the standard suspension will feel, but for the G30 it feels to me as if BMW has got the variable dampers absolutely spot on. Cruising on the motorway is a thoroughly refined experience with the car absorbing everything that our roads can throw at it in its stride. In this mode around town it’s similarly impressive, even to the extent that it rides the massive speed humps that the council has seen fi t to install around my area with aplomb – better than anything else I’ve yet driven over them in.

    When you do switch the car into Sport it really comes alive, too. The engine and gearbox are so much more eager to play and the handling tightens up significantly, making it a joy to hustle along a favourite back road. The only thing I would say is that as the car as a whole is so refined I never really felt the need to drive it hard – it does so well as a cruiser that you can almost forget that it’s a very, very tidy handler and can be driven in a sporting fashion with aplomb. Overall the drive is hugely absorbing and involving and just about the only disappointment was the economy which didn’t go very far north of 40mpg in my time with it. Maybe I’m just heavy-footed, and to be fair to the car it was nowhere near run in yet.

    So, job done then? A very stylish package with an excellent interior, a myriad of technology to choose from and an involving drive. Like me this 5 Series is the most mature version yet, but like me, it’s not grown old… not quite yet.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-G30 / #BMW-520d-M-Sport / #BMW-520d-M-Sport-G30 / #BMW-520d-G30 / #BMW-520d / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-G30 /

    ENGINE: Four-cylinder diesel, 16-valve
    CAPACITY: 1995cc
    MAX POWER: 190hp @ 4000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 295lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
    0-62MPH: 7.5 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 146mph
    ECONOMY: 65.6mpg
    EMISSIONS: 114g/km
    WEIGHT (EU): 1615kg
    PRICE (OTR): £39,025
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    Buyer beware... / #BMW-F10 / #BMW-520d / #BMW-520d-F10 / #BMW / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-F10

    I wasn’t very surprised to see that early, high mileage F10s are now down to around £6500 – inevitable I guess. But I would urge caution if you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying such a car. The F10 is, of course, a decently built motor and it’s one of our favourites because there is little a 520d won’t do very well. But these cheaper examples will have done well over 150,000 miles and it’s at this age, mileage and price point where you can quite easily end up with a £7500 millstone, and cars don’t get more reliable with age. Start with the engine – the N47 is well known for timing chain issues and ignore anyone who says BMW sorted that out by 2010, because it certainly hadn’t. One 2011 car I saw with 180,000 miles (a 520d manual) had been fitted with a brand-new engine just 30k before so that might be a good deal. But then you have 180,000 mile-old injectors, turbo, high pressure pump, dual mass flywheel, manual box, electric steering rack, diff oil seals (a far more involved job due to the driveshafts with two integral CV joints) and so on. #BMW-523i-F10 and #BMW-528i-F10 cars with the N53 can have very persistent and pricey misfire problems – coil packs, injectors, NoX sensors…

    It’s hard to say exactly when cars went from being rugged and fixable to being dynamically amazing but a potential nightmare to repair, but it was long before the F10 was launched. Truth is, cars like this as well as equivalent Vauxhalls, Mercs, Audis and so on are fine for the warranty period, but be prepared for a four-figure financial kicking if something goes wrong. I personally wouldn’t consider a leggy F10 or F30 unless it was stupidly cheap, but when even recorded write-offs are fetching frankly ridiculous prices, that’s unlikely. As ever, we’d take the £7500 you’d spend on a mega mileage time bomb and use it as a down payment on a warrantied Approved Used Car from a main dealer – or even on a deal on a brand-new one.
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    LONGTERMERS #BMW-F10 / #BMW-520d-SE / #BMW-520d / #BMW-520d-F10 / #BMW / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-F10

    The 520d has benefited from a set of mudflaps, but at £200 they weren’t cheap!

    I’ve been ranting and raving against the establishment this month, not in some Spinal Tap-inspired anarchy-rich diatribe up on stage, but in an altogether more modern manner via email. A local estate has been building in a nearby village just to the west of Oxford, and if you live locally you will know to whom I am referring without me having to do anything so grubby as to name it.

    Said estate started its building works in August, and all credit to it, it was mostly finished in time for the bank holiday weekend. I know this because we were in email contact, requesting such things as amended light phasing to reflect the fact that the traffic flow is mostly west to east in the mornings and the reverse in the evening.

    Pedantic in the extreme perhaps, but after several mornings of progressing through the village at a speed which would make a snail scoff, I’d had enough. As the estate was in control of the road works, it duly complied and the situation improved before the works completed at the end of month. Fast forward to October. More lights appear, and some trucks. And the queues start to build. And build. And then a little more. Turns out the regional utilities company is digging up the road again in response to the building works, but it’s not phasing the lights at all and worse, when we drive through the road works we spy one chap on his phone and another stood around, doing nothing. Twice. The hole itself? Remains empty.

    This is not good. Back on to the email, to be told by one of the directors at the estate in question that they have no control over these particular installation works. The utility company is managing them. We worked with ‘Highways’ it said and sir, they approved the works. Oh brilliant, so we all have to suffer being late getting to work in the mornings, do we because you are randomly digging up the road and didn’t have the common courtesy to put up some signs either informing the hapless motorist that the works are imminent, or for how much longer they will last? Or at least monitor the length of the traffic queue which by this point had extended back to the previous village a little over two miles up the road… ‘We have no control’ it says, which is ludicrous considering it is its building ambitions which are causing it in the first place. ‘Sorry’, it says, ‘nothing we can do, goodbye.’ How nice. And this from a prominent landmark which relies on the local populace for its very existence, bombarding it month-on-month with countless emails regarding the next ‘event’, but which also seems to treat said public with disdain and a cavalier attitude to its position in the area when challenged. Basically, if you don’t like it, tough.

    This may all sound very petty and a tad parochial. Let’s face it, people build things. But it’s been a good long while since I had a proper rant and the ‘pah – whatever’ attitude on display really gnawed my peanuts. This isn’t to say the estate office was not polite in its dealings, because it was. But when it became clear that I wasn’t letting this drop, all I got back was a seemingly standard ‘highways have approved this’ response and blank expressions via email… I didn’t expect it to offer up a three-week stay in the west wing by way of compensation, merely a recognition that its approach left a little to be desired. No joy.

    So in response, the majority of the events we visit each year will no longer benefit from our custom, and this also goes for the other two dozen poor buggers with whom I work and whom have also vowed to stick the proverbial two fingers up each time they pass the entrance…

    Anyway, enough whining… on to more jolly matters. The mud flaps have been fitted, well hurrah! We’ve only had the car six months, but no matter. With winter just around the corner, now was the time to get them done. 200 quid for some plastic nailed to the base of the wheel arches is possibly an extreme reaction, but the benefits are already clear to see – less muck on the lower sills, and I really do think they help the lines, too. Pure subjectivity of course, and the 17s could do with going up a size, so we’ll see what funds are available for some bigger rims in the New Year.

    Oh and we’ve had random iDrive issues recently. And this isn’t another of those phantom faults I occasionally refer to. The iDrive ceased to respond one morning, the screen then went blank with the message ‘NO SIGNAL’ written large across the blackness in red letters (the lights were on at the time, with the dials illuminated red, so I suppose if it had been the daytime, the writing would have been white?).

    Naturally assuming an iDrive glitch, and after pressing a few buttons achieved precisely naff all response, I elected to pull over somewhere safe and restart the engine in the hope it would fix it. Ten seconds later though, the system restarted itself automatically and in the same manner as it does every morning, with the ‘BMW Connected Drive’ legend appearing on the screen and a short while later, all was well again, and all whilst still driving. It’s been fine since, too. We’ll definitely raise it with North Oxford when it goes in for a service in the New Year, just in case. An over-the-air update perhaps?

    Talking of ConnectedDrive, I’ve been using it quite a bit this month (for once). Mostly to send sat-nav instructions to the car in order to then open the message and set the location upon starting the engine, which is a handy feature. I’ve not as yet had another go with the GoPro app but I will do at some point, and we’ve also been using the Google Search function in order to find locations on those occasions where we’ve forgotten to send them to the car first. At some point we’ll dream up a good test for the Concierge service, too. We’ve used them once previously but I want to know how effective the service is these days, so more on that in due course.

    Lastly this month, I was talking to my mother who was asking why the outer edges of the seats had blue stains on them. I replied that my (new) cheap jeans were causing it.

    Did you wash them before first wearing them in the car, she asked? I had to confess that I hadn’t. Seems obvious – stick ‘em through the wash and most of the surface dye is removed as a consequence. She wandered off muttering something about the youth of today, which is nice considering I’m 41. But listen to your parents – they know things.

    F10 520d SE
    YEAR: #2016
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 10,559
    MPG THIS MONTH: 40.8
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    MIGHTY FIVE Seriously styled F10 520d

    FIVE STAR Big, bold and very, very blue – MStyle’s F10 520d show car is all about making a big impact. With a dazzling paint job and a heap of stunning styling mods, this F10 is guaranteed to get noticed. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Richardson.

    Following on from the E60, the F10 5 Series has proved to be a pretty massive hit as well as being, well, just plain massive, really. When we first drove the car at its launch we remember thinking it felt more 7 Series than 5 Series and BMW itself admitted that the 5 Series had gone up a size mainly for the US market, where size definitely still matters.

    Among its contemporaries it no longer seems like such a road leviathan but the F10 remains a superb machine, brilliantly executed and a comfortable, elegant and refined motor car. Of course, not everyone wants that and while we’ve not been inundated with modified 5 Series submissions from the worldwide BMW scene, every now and again an example of a non-standard F10 pops up that makes up for the lack of activity and proves impossible to ignore. Case in point: MStyle’s ridiculously blue F10 520d show car.

    Colour plays such a big part in a car’s appeal. You could have the sexiest machine in the world but if it’s finished in some weird colour it’ll be robbed of any impact and visual appeal. Likewise, bold colours on big cars can be a risky move as it can prove to be a bit too much. Well, MStyle has chosen a pretty outrageous shade of blue for a pretty massive car and it works, it really does.

    Okay, not everyone’s going to want their F10 looking as bright as this, but if you want to make an impact this is how you do it. The colour is, amazingly, a BMW factory hue and has the wonderful title of Long Beach blue.

    The name certainly conjures up images of beautiful skies and azure waters, and on a rainy day in Romford? Well it serves as a retina-searing flash of colour that brightens up everything around it and delivers a dose of automotive vitamin D that makes you feel good. As there’s a blue and black combo colour scheme going on across the car, the roof has been painted black which is a good touch as it helps to break up that big block of blue and ties everything together.

    Beyond the paintwork there’s a lot going on here in terms of styling, with MStyle ramping up the road presence and giving this F10 all the visual clout of a haymaker.

    Step one in taking this 5 Series from refined to rowdy was the addition of MStyle’s own M-look body kit; a comprehensive package that includes front and rear bumpers, side skirts and front wings. With those massive front air intakes, wing vents and sculpted rear bumper, this 520d looks every inch the M machine and the quality, fit and finish of the body kit is absolutely spot-on. In fact, only the mirrors and lack of massive brakes give the game away as far as this car’s identity goes. The M body kit alone makes a big difference to the looks, but that wasn’t ever really going to be enough for an outfit like MStyle, so then came the carbon, lashings and lashings of carbon, which contrasts perfectly against the blue and takes this F10 to the next level.

    The biggest carbon addition on the car is without doubt the bonnet, which you might not notice due to the fact that it’s been painted but the fully functional vents have been left bare and they look fantastic for it.

    Sitting below the front bumper is a full-width carbon splitter while a set of MStyle black kidney grilles have been fitted and the headlights have been tinted using Lamin-X film. Heading down the side of the car you’ll spot the black side repeaters, carbon side skirt extensions and carbon mirror covers, while at the back there’s both a carbon roof spoiler and carbon boot spoiler, a gorgeous carbon rear diffuser and the only thing that could possibly fill the exhaust cut-outs on either side is the MStyle quad exhaust, with its fat round tips poking out menacingly. The finishing touch is a set of genuine BMW White line rear lights that have also been given the tinted treatment via some Lamin-X film. With all those carbon parts attached to that big blue body the car looks awesome, super-aggressive and with a tonne of road presence; it’s about as far removed from a virgin 520d SE as you could possibly imagine.

    Styling sorted, a suitably muscular set of wheels was needed to fill those big arches and here MStyle was spoilt for choice as it carries an overwhelming number of wheels from countless top-end companies and for this car, the BC Forged catalogue was called upon. The chosen wheel for the F10 was the HCS-02, a two-piece forged affair with a wide-set, twin-five-spoke design. When it came to choosing the finish, MStyle opted for satin black centres with polished lips and barrels. The wheels are 21s, measuring 9.5” wide up front and a beefy 11” at the rear. They suit the car perfectly, with the centres echoing the black elements around the car and the polished lips and barrels adding a flash of colour that prevents the wheels and tyres turning into big, black shapeless circles, while the concave design adds an extra element. Killer wheels alone are no good if your car is riding like a 4x4 so a bit of lowering was required and while a set of springs would have done the job, if something is worth doing it’s worth doing right so BC Racing was called upon to provide a set of coilovers. Naturally, these are height adjustable but also offer damping adjustment to allow you to fine-tune the ride and handling characteristics. Arguably getting the car sitting just right is at least as important and MStyle’s got that spot-on here, with that big F10 body sitting mere millimetres above the tyres.

    Now, you might think that’s job done as far as this F10 is concerned, but MStyle doesn’t do things by halves, so the interior has been treated to a full black Nappa leather retrim complete with custom blue stitching, with a honeycomb pattern on the seats and doorcards. It really helps to give the interior that extra touch of luxury and exclusivity, without going overboard, plus it ties in perfectly with the exterior colour combo.

    The final element is the addition of a Mosselman Turbo Systems tuning module, which can be seen under the bonnet. The 520d is a surprisingly sprightly machine, the 2.0-litre diesel mill under the bonnet being blessed with a huge amount of torque that ensures even the smallest of the diesel Fives never feels sluggish, but with diesel engines responding so keenly to a little fettling, it would have been silly not to. The module simply plugs in and takes the 520d from 184 to 214hp while torque rises from 280 to 332lb ft – enough to get the big F10 off the line smartly and accelerating briskly; it’s not going to set your world alight, but it’s most definitely a welcome boost in performance.

    With a car like the F10 you might be tempted to go for the subtle approach in terms of styling, but sometimes going big pays off. In one fell swoop, MStyle has transformed this F10, taking it from its humble business executive beginnings and giving it a full-on Hollywood makeover, via Romford. It’s a proper head-turning machine, and every aspect of the car’s styling has been addressed and improved upon, resulting in a car you could happily use daily, cruise in comfort on the motorway whilst enjoying very pleasant fuel economy, before parking up at a show and enjoying being the centre of attention. What more can you ask for from a car?

    Contact MStyle 020 8598 9115

    Interior has been finished in black Nappa leather with custom blue stitching and honeycomb pattern.

    Carbon fibre galore on this F10, including roof and boot spoilers plus diffuser and that vented bonnet.

    MStyle has chosen a pretty outrageous shade of blue for a pretty massive car and it works.

    Mosselman tuning module sits in engine bay and takes power from 184hp to 214hp with 332lb ft of torque.

    DATA FILE MStyle #BMW-F10 / #BMW-520d / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-520d-F10 / #BMW-5-Series-F10 / #BMW / #Mosselman / #N47-Mosselman /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.0-litre four-cylinder N47D20 / N47 / BMW-N47 , #Mosselman-Turbo-Systems-Tuning-Module , eight-speed automatic gearbox / #ZF / #ZF8HP /

    CHASSIS 9.5x21” (front) and 11x21” (rear) #BC-Forged-HCS-02 two-piece wheels with satin black centres, polished barrels and lips with 255/30 (front) and 295/25 (rear) tyres, #BC-Racing height and damping adjustable coilovers

    EXTERIOR Full #MStyle #M-look body kit consisting of front and rear bumpers, side skirts and front wing, repainted in BMW Long Beach blue with gloss black roof, #Lamin-X tinted headlights, MStyle carbon vented bonnet, carbon front splitter, gloss black twin slat kidney grilles, gloss black side repeaters, carbon mirror covers, carbon side skirt extensions, carbon boot spoiler, carbon roof spoiler, carbon quad rear diffuser, quad exhaust, BMW Whiteline rear lights tinted using Lamin-X film, tinted windows

    INTERIOR Full Nappa leather interior retrim with custom blue stitching
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    F10 520d SE

    I’ve settled into life with the 520d and it really is a pleasure to drive, showing a surprising turn of speed now that it’s fully run-in (and there’s been no repeat of the spurious service message I referred to last month). It’s not the fastest car in the world but 295lb ft of torque does its best to push us down the road, assisted as I’ve said before by the linear acceleration through having the auto box fitted. I’m finding myself using the paddles all the time too, which is not something I’ve really bothered with in the past. So it will be interesting to see if the novelty ever wears off. Economy started the month on a high of around 45mpg after a steady-ish return trip to South Wales and has slowly dropped since, settling at over 41mpg whilst commuting and getting around. Which, considering the size of the thing, isn’t too bad compared to the 46mpg or so the old F30 was returning.

    It’s definitely not a new car anymore though. I’ve already had the boot full of various bits of rubbish from the garage which was destined for the local recycling centre (tip – be careful what you place in the right-hand recess in the boot, as the depths are wider than the shallow opening; Hauling stuff out of there can be a pain). Plus something has struck the lower offside bumper on the front and the seats are already showing traces of dye transfer from my cheap jeans…

    I’ve already had a go at them once this month with the Autoglym leather cleaner, so I think this may have to be a regular occurrence in order to avoid a situation where the seats take on a hue akin to a yellow shirt going through the wash with those jeans. Faults or complaints? Well, bizarrely, one of the alloys is showing corrosion in or around one of the retaining bolts, plus the central cap too. It’s no disaster, and it seems to be improving, but it’s slightly embarrassing and will have to be looked at before the car gets much older. I daresay nobody will believe me, but there seems to be some sort of rattle from the rear, although again it isn’t earth-shattering, and is probably something I’ll leave until the car goes in for that wheel, then perhaps North Oxford can look at the both problems at the same time. I did think the rattle was because the tyres were over-inflated, as I sensed a fidget from the chassis over broken surfaces and lower speeds (the rattle is one of those high frequency affairs) which didn’t match up with my expectations for the ride. At higher speeds, it smoothed out appreciably, as if the car had been set up for the autobahn, but in town the car seemed agitated. Sure enough, a quick trip back to North Oxford a week after taking delivery did confirm that all the tyres were over-inflated to the tune of 5psi. Once that was released, the ride was much better.

    Other observations not identifiable as faults as such are the bootlid, which deposits any standing rain water on to the contents of the boot as it arcs skyward, an amusing design fault with the blind spot monitor, which flashes away as you indicate around roundabouts where traffic is following (the system evidently ‘thinking’ the other vehicle is in your blind spot) and the fact that in order to use the ConnectedDrive feature, my iPhone has to be physically plugged into the car, which won’t do the phone’s battery any good longer term. And if that sounds like nit-picking, then I may as well take this opportunity to have a whinge about the paint. Not because of the finish (which is predictably orange peely) but because the colour shows up any mark. First World problems… I chose the colour, after all. The last comment on the outside is that it needs mud flaps as mentioned before, which are priced (fitted) from BMW at around 200 quid. So at some point I’ll get those done.

    So what about the tech? Well I’ve been using the cameras continuously (when parking at least), and OCD is setting in with regards to using the surround view option in order to align the car between the white lines whilst parking. My wife thinks I’m mad. She may be right. I also have to have the power button for the hi-fi always pointing to the midday position, so can somebody pass me my medication? The side view cameras have already proven their worth though. A local pub which we use has a car park exit which is obscured by a stone wall. This wouldn’t be an issue if the pub (the exit to which is not shown in the pics, that’s my drive) was stuck in the middle of nowhere, but this particular tavern is right in the middle of one of the busiest villages in all of Oxfordshire, ergo all manner of traffic from Fiats to Fodens thunders down the hill past the exit. So, hit the side view cameras, inch out and even though I cannot see anything other than brick wall, a glance at the iDrive screen shows me whether the road is clear or whether I’m about to pull out into my nemesis in the shape of a ruddy great Mercedes truck storming down the hill…

    Other tech highlights evident in these first few weeks are the fact that even with my polarised sunglasses on, I can still see the HUD, thanks in part to the fact that one can now adjust the brightness of the display. I don’t think that option was available on the E60 version I had several years ago. I love the response of the iDrive in the sat nav, which adjusts the elevation the moment you ask for it, and not a couple of seconds later à la the F30 (which really got on my wick), and as I have the seat set quite low and the steering column adjusted to its highest setting then telescoped out toward me, the heated steering wheel confirmation which shows under the speedometer is welcome, as otherwise I’d struggle to see the LED down the side of the steering column (which, on reflection, is a rather strange place to put it for a company which prides itself on its ergonomics, don’t you think?). Ah yes, LEDs. Whilst we’re on the subject, why are there so many in modern BMWs? At night, with various driver assistance and comfort functions set to active, there is something like 18 little green lights peppered all over the dashboard and centre console. It’s not distracting, not to me anyway, but I do wonder whether some people find it off-putting to have an interior seemingly swarming with fireflies.

    Last tech mention for this month is the collision detection system, which doesn’t seem to be pestering me quite as much as the installations in previous BMWs I’ve driven. I’ve set the sensitivity to ‘early’ too, which should mean it’s more pessimistic and alerting me earlier and hence, more at risk of getting switched off. But thus far, that doesn’t seem to have happened. So, how does it work? I really have no idea. All I do know is that it has an uncanny knack of spotting when the car in front is slowing and it thinks I’m not paying enough attention or, more impressively, that plodding pedestrian is going to step out into the road. It’s a sobering thought to think that perhaps one day, it will spot something I really haven’t seen and will attempt to drop anchor in order to avoid an accident (whereupon those seatbelts I mentioned last month will doubtless prove their worth). Hopefully, we’ll never find out.

    Car #BMW-F10 / #BMW-520d-SE / #BMW-520d-F10 / #BMW-520d / #BMW /
    YEAR: #2016
    MPG THIS MONTH: 41.1

    Mark added plenty of high-tech options to his F10 and has been finding them pretty useful. The front-end collision warning works well and side view cameras greatly aid vision. Surround view ensures there’s no excuse for not parking parallel with the lines…
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  • Post is under moderation
    BMW F10 520d SE
    YEAR: 2016
    MPG THIS MONTH: 43.1

    Car #BMW-F10 / #BMW-520d-SE-F10 / #BMW-520d-F10 / #BMW-520d / #BMW / #2016

    Sometimes it’s the little things in life that appeal the most. Like realising there’s actually one last Cadbury Creme Egg in the fridge when you thought they’d all been scoffed. Or discovering that in actual fact there isn’t a piece missing from the 1980s Lego Technic set you’ve just bought off eBay (more on this later). Or even a small button on the left of your F10’s steering column which, when pressed, glows orange and warms up the steering wheel for you in the morning.

    I am now 40 years of age. And I crave comfort. I don’t want to change gear myself all the time or suffer freezing hands in the morning. I wear slippers in the house and insist on having the heating on as soon as a cloud ventures onto the horizon. On occasion I can be found nestling under a blanket whilst snoozing on the couch of an evening and generally like to slow the pace down on occasion. And the same goes for my wife. Ergo the F30 320d Sport wasn’t really fitting into our lives so, as we all know, it’s gone, replaced with OU16 that you see before you.

    A combination of non-M Sport suspension, sumptuous and supportive sports seats, 17s wearing 55 profile tyres (the last time I saw a tyre this bulbous was on a ’70s Aston) and ZF’s simply marvellous eight-speed auto make this one of the most comfortable means of travelling at this price point. If you cannot afford £70k for a 7 Series, get one of these. Craving satisfied.

    It’s been an exciting few weeks building-up to taking delivery of the car in late March. All the paperwork formalities were completed in advance to ensure that on the day all we had to do was sign the delivery form plus a few other bits and bobs for the ConnectedDrive offerings (more on this in the coming months) before we could then climb into the car and go through the various pieces of kit – of which, thanks to my furious option box ticking, there is rather a lot.

    To recap, we have those sports seats, extended air-con, the aforementioned auto with now standard sports wheel but with added paddles, surround cameras, blind spot monitor, Professional Navigation, the Driver Assistance package (lane guidance, collision avoidance and pedestrian recognition), the Head-Up Display, speed limit recognition, sun blinds, the upgraded stereo, the Active Security Package, adaptive headlights, ambient lighting and LED fogs. Plus the wood trim, of course, although thankfully that isn’t too technical. Oh and that, ahem, heated rim…

    I’m not going to review all this for this month’s report to avoid BMW Car needing to print another 20 pages. We’ll cover different areas in due course. But the extent of the options list is worth bearing in mind because the (very welcome) desire of North Oxford BMW to ensure a full and proper handover, even though they know I’m already familiar with all this stuff, meant that it took nearly two hours to complete the exchange.

    As one would expect, the handover concentrated for the most part on the iDrive screen. Whilst the various buttons for the assistance systems and the cameras were covered off, the configuration of said options is performed via the iDrive. So all eyes were on the screen and its impressive visuals. And whilst we’re in this area, I’ll mention again that I prefer the look of the iDrive screen set into the dashboard and not nailed in landscape format to the top as per my old Three Series plus more and more new BMWs (including the new G13 Five, too, which is another reason why I wanted an F10).

    There are one or two items which I will mention at this point, though. First, the music streaming service, which offers up connectivity via the integrated SIM card and the presence of a suitable app on one’s smartphone (Amazon Music, Napster, that kind of thing) to provision on-line and real time music downloads to the in dashboard storage. All with no data charge on your phone. Indeed, the only time your phone is actually used is to make calls, which is worth bearing in mind given the amount of data this car evidently receives whilst it’s in transit. It apparently also connects to BMW to inform them that a service is due. They then ping me a reminder in case I forget. I think, based on what we were told, that the music streaming service is £160 per year or around that, but if you’re an Amazon Prime customer, as we are, then one can use their music streaming service instead.

    The other quite funky item which only became clear once we’d buried deeper into the various menus (and not something that even the salesmen at North Oxford have actually seen themselves as yet) is something related to ConnectedDrive. Basically, the suggestion is that via the GoPro app on my iPhone, I’ll be able to use the ConnectedDrive architecture to relay a picture from my Hero4 GoPro suckered to the side of the car, and display that view on the iDrive screen, using the iPhone as the wireless interface between the camera and the car. Which sounds like fun and hence something we are going to have to attempt at some point…

    So we spent over an hour going through all this stuff, buttons, functions, understanding how the adaptive lights work, how the real-time traffic reports can be saved as a favourite button on the dashboard, how the concierge service can be used at all hours of the day and night, how to switch between reversing camera and surround view and so on. We even had a peak under the bonnet and confirmed that, yes, there is indeed a big lump of plastic and metal under there which produces 190hp and 295lb ft of torque. And then my wife, miles away in the back seat, looked up from her magazine and reminded me that we had a lunch appointment in Reading. So we said our goodbyes and headed off.

    First impressions? Quiet. Noticeably reduced road noise compared to the Three Series, better suppressed wind noise and generally less commotion. And smooth, so very smooth. Not just in terms of ride quality but also in the utterly unobtrusive manners of the auto ’box. That said, I’ve had it a week at the time of writing and I’m not sold on the merits of the Auto Hold feature, plus why does the ‘box hold around 1500 revs when a click of the paddle engages eighth gear, which the transmission then holds. If the momentum was sufficient to warrant eighth, I’m not sure why it wasn’t already selected. But that’s a minor whinge. Overall, the auto is a triumph.

    We have a recommended ceiling of 3.5k revs for the first 1200 miles. Running in a car seems such a quaint notion nowadays given the engines are all bench-tested prior to installation, but one feels as if one should go through the motions. And I like to think that the 43mpg we have so far returned over the first 470 miles is as a direct consequence.

    The only slightly odd thing which has occurred in these early miles is the dashboard suddenly pinging up a 500-mile warning to the next service one morning at the start of Easter. We were about to leave to drive down to Southampton to join P&O’s Britannia for a short cruise break (to get a feel for the new ship… answer, very modern but very tasteful and cosy, highly recommended, so we’ve booked for next year) and I could only guess that the constant opening, closing, locking, opening, closing, locking and unlocking of the doors and boot whilst I was packing the car confused something deep down in the code. Engine restarted, the warning went, and every subsequent start since then has brought up the familiar 18k countdown notice in the base of the binnacle. So I’m not going to worry about it, although I did mention it to North Oxford, just to be safe.

    The cruise break meant that the car drove 70 miles on its first morning of our ownership before being parked up for three days, which did seem rather daft, but it was nice to come back to.

    Driving home up the A34 I was aware of a very satisfying laid-back feeling fostered by a high dashboard with that iDrive screen angled back ever-sos-lightly and a wider transmission tunnel that I’ve been used to. The sun blinds work well and obviate the need for privacy glass, something I’ve never quite been sold on, and our daughter seems to enjoy peeking through the gap at passing traffic, much like the cat does as he spies on the neighbours through the kitchen blinds. At night, the snug feeling of the interior is amplified by the illumination and the ambient lighting, and with seat heaters on low, steering wheel heating activated and a cool breeze to the face one is all set up for the 400-mile drive up the M6.

    The most impressive technology at this point is the blind spot monitor, which adjusts its activation point in relation to the approach speed of the inevitable Audi A5 in the outside lane. If said ‘Ingolstadt staff car’ is on a mission then the monitor illuminates orange in the door mirror housing good and early, whereas if you’re being overtaken more slowly the system waits for the car to be just behind your off-side rear before coming on. Clever stuff.

    The most bizarre tech has to be the Active Security package, and more specifically the actions of the seat belts as you drive off. The belt momentarily tightens across your chest, presumably as it ensures the slack is taken up in the mechanism. The idea is that in an accident the system instantaneously closes the windows and secures the passengers in the seats by forcibly retracting the belts. Which is sound theory. In practice it’s bloody unnerving the first time it happens (and it was one of the few things not mentioned in the handover, so we weren’t expecting it) but thereafter it becomes quite comforting, even if you do suspect that an engineer with a mischievous sense of humour has written a line of code into the ECU which also uses this function to draw conclusions on one’s weight.

    We even had surprising tech, meaning something I wasn’t expecting. Those with good memories may recall me whinging about the sports displays in the Three Series only reading in Kw and Nm, refusing to offer up hp and lb/ft options, even in the unit’s submenu. Well OU16 not only still has the sports displays (even though it’s an SE) but, rejoice, they can be configured in old money. Hurrah!

    As for the rest, we’ll get to it over the coming months. Plus at some point I’d like to get a set of mud-flaps fitted in order to protect the lower portions of the bodywork, so more on that in due course, too.

    And now, what about that Lego? I cannot recall what stirred the memory but in recent months my mind went back to the old Lego sets I had as a child. Like I said earlier, I’m now 40. Plus I still want to get a bike licence.

    So somebody go look up the definition of ‘midlife crisis’ and let me know if any of this fits. Anyway, my parents confirmed they couldn’t find my old Lego Technic set (roughly translated this means they threw it out when they moved house years ago) so eBay came to the rescue and £50 later a Lego Technic 8860 set arrived. Anybody remember these? It’s incredible how much of its build I was able to recall, even though we had the instructions included. And around four hours later, it was built. So, back onto eBay and another £60 and three days later, set 8865 arrived. This one was a good deal more complicated to put together, and even after four hours we’d barely advanced beyond chassis height. But it was all done in the end and now I’m rooting around for the next plastic challenge. Apparently these days Lego make a Mercedes truck kit which retails for around £150! Lord only knows how complex that one will prove to be…

    And what of KP12? Well, it’s gone now of course but not before finally getting those little jobs done, namely the scratches on the roof and the curbed alloy. Jim Kimber from Revive! (give him a call on 07701 071209 if you’re in the Oxford area and want a scratch removed) turned up at the house a few minutes early and proceeded to repair and then cure the wheel with a heater which was powerful enough to heat ourselves stood 15 feet away on a jolly cold morning. And then, via some judicious machine polishing and liquid polish, the scratches on the roof miraculously disappeared. I don’t know why I didn’t get it done sooner. A snip at £150 for the lot. Farewell KP12, you were a good motor.

    Midlife crisis? Mark’s taken to building Lego kits again! F30 repairs efficiently carried out by Revive!
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    Perfectly Refined

    We take a first drive in the new 518d and 520d models /// #BMW-518d-F10 /// #BMW-520d-F10 /// #BMW-518d-F11 /// #BMW-520d-F11

    The best-selling four-cylinder diesel Fives were pretty good already but now they have been fitted with the new 2.0-litre engine they’re better than ever Words: Kyle Fortune. Photography: BMW.

    “Germans don’t do coffee,” says one of the journalists present. “Great at beer but terrible at coffee.” There’s nothing wrong with mine though; it’s strong, black and hot. It’s needed, too, after a 1.50am start to get to the airport. The occasion? The international launch of BMW’s new #BMW-518d and #BMW-520d , and the coffee discussion is at the lunch stop just outside Munich. No scrappy Moto or Extra service station here, but a proper Dinzler Kaffeerösterei stop, where the coffee is excellent and Germany’s reps and middle management are better catered for than the eye-wateringly expensive Costas and Starbucks that litter our motorway service stations in the UK.

    We’re not here to discuss the merits of crushed beans and hot water, though. We, like the target audience, have just driven here in BMW’s 5 Series fleet specials. The cynic in you could consider #BMW ’s 2002 introduction of EfficientDynamics as being timed a little too perfectly, the firm’s low CO² engines arriving at almost exactly the point in time when CO² -based taxation arrived on company cars. A candid conversation a few years ago with a BMW insider refuted that; BMW’s drive to efficiency was a curious and lucky quirk of timing rather than actually planned. Regardless, it has been at the top of the game since, though inevitably others have caught up. The new 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine that brought us here today is the firm’s response.

    In the UK last year the 5 Series took 14,445 sales, of which 11,296 were 520ds. That new engine is significant then, and the 518d is unlikely to make a huge impact on that, as its CO² rating of 114g/km is no different from that of its more powerful 520d relation. Economy is the same, too, at 65.7mpg on the combined cycle. That worsens to 60.1mpg and 124g/km if you opt for a larger wheel and tyre package. Opt for the eight-speed Steptronic automatic, as around 50 per cent of buyers will, and both achieve 109g/km in SE guise only and 65.8mpg – or 114g/km and 119g/km on Luxury and M Sport wheels respectively.

    Whatever way you look at it, those are some fairly incredible numbers. And they’re achieved without any sacrifice in performance; indeed, the 520d gains 6hp and 15lb ft (20Nm) of torque, yet returns around ten per cent better economy. The 520d delivers 190hp at 4000rpm, its peak torque of 295lb ft (400Nm) achieved between 1750-2500rpm, which helps a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds with the six-speed manual gearbox or 7.7 seconds with the automatic. Understandably, the 518d’s numbers are more modest: it develops 150hp at 4000rpm, while its maximum torque of 266lb ft (360Nm) is produced over the same rev range as the 520d. Although it’s slower than the 520d on paper, its 9.5-second manual (9.4-second auto) 0-62mph time underlining this, it doesn’t feel so outgunned on the road.

    Christian Hiemesch, Project Director Development Diesel Engines for BMW 5, 6 and 7 Series, explains that the new diesel engine family is already used in both the X3 and 2 Series Active Tourer. Designated B47, the 1995cc unit replaces the N47 engine. It’s a modular unit with 500cc cylinders allowing three-, four- and six-cylinder layouts. The B37 three-cylinder version will power the 216d Active Tourer for instance. The new engine is designed to be fitted transversely and longitudinally, for use in both MINIs and front-wheel drive BMWs.

    No such divisive drive in the 5 Series. Although xDrive four-wheel drive offerings mean some European markets will see power directed to the front, in the UK the 5 Series remains resolutely rearwheel drive. Like its predecessor, the B47 features EfficientDynamics technology to maximise economy.

    TwinPower turbocharging, Electric Power Steering and Brake Energy Recuperation all feature, while mapcontrolled oil pumps with variable vanes enable continuously adjustable control of the volume flow and pressure in response to the engine’s status. Thermodynamic efficiency is improved around the core of the engine, too, as has the starting characteristics of the Auto Start Stop function, the result being even less scavenging losses to auxiliaries.

    The variable intake ‘TwinPower’ turbochargers have been optimised with new roller bearings, while newly designed heat exchangers for the exhaust gas flow optimise cooling performance – to the benefit of a reduction in maximum combustion temperatures and efficiency. The common-rail injection system uses new solenoid valve injectors for more precise control of fuel flow, and allow increased injection pressure – of up to 2000bar. Friction reductions have been achieved thanks to thermally joined cylinder liners in the aluminium crankcase, while the stiffer case, along with balancer shafts, help to improve refinement.

    Those changes are obvious immediately; as in the 218d Active Tourer we’ve driven elsewhere in this issue (p28), the 2.0-litre turbodiesel’s refinement is exceptional, even more so when under the Five’s bonnet. There are absolutely no vibrations, so the smoothness and eagerness to rev are both very impressive, and the improved Auto Start Stop system is all but imperceptible in its operation – not least because of the engine’s near silence and lack of vibration. Choose Eco Pro via the Drive Performance Control switch and the earnest eco bias feels like you’re pushing an accelerator that’s attached vaguely to the engine, so the standard Comfort mode is preferable unless you value economy over all else.

    The dual-nature of BMW’s four-cylinder turbodiesels has always been their strongest point though. Even without much thought to efficiency they’ll return highly credible economy, and yet still produce effortless performance on demand. Ask for more and that keenness to rev is unlike the majority of BMW’s offerings, though it’s at its best when specified with the eight-speed automatic gearbox.

    That optional Steptronic transmission helps achieve greater economy and emissions figures over the sixspeed manual. It does this by a number of measures, including an rpm-linked damper with engine specific tuning that allows lower rev driving without the usual compromises in vibration and acoustic intrusion. The longer ratios assist, too, as does a sat nav-linked predictive shift. The gearbox talks to the sat nav – even when not routing – to allow the optimum shifting strategy for the driving situation, as well as a coasting function in Eco Pro mode.

    The 5 Series diesel has come a long way from its 1984 524td beginnings with 115hp and 40.9mpg. Now if only UK customers were offered somewhere as nice to stop for a coffee on the road all would be right with the world.

    TECG DATA BMW F10 518d SE & 520d SE #BMW-F10 /// #BMW-F11
    518d SE 520d SE
    ENGINE: Four-cylinder, 16-valve turbodiesel Four-cylinder, 16-valve turbodiesel / #N47D20 / #N47
    CAPACITY: 1995cc 1995cc
    MAX POWER: 150hp @ 4000rpm 190hp @ 4000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 266lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm 295lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
    TOP SPEED: 135mph (134) 146mph (144)
    0-62MPH: 9.5 seconds (9.4) 7.9 seconds (7.7)
    ECONOMY 65.7mpg (68.9) 65.7mpg (68.9)
    EMISSIONS: 114g/km (109) 114g/km (109)
    WEIGHT (EU): 1690kg (1700) 1695kg (1705)
    PRICE: £30,265 (£31,815) £31,965 (£33,515)
    Figures in brackets refer to eight-speed auto #ZF-8HP
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