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    Business Class. What would you buy for the same money; an Approved Used #BMW-F10 535d M Sport or a new 520d SE? The list price for a brand-new 520d SE Saloon is £32,260. For the same money you could buy a nearly new Approved Used 535d M Sport instead with two years BMW warranty. So which makes the best buy? Words: Guy Baker. Photography: Tom Begley.

    The current #F10 5 Series is undoubtedly ahead of the game – beating rivals from Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes to the title of top exec. Brilliantly refined and quiet, the latest Five delivers a genuine luxury feel, not to mention satisfying handling, impressive passenger room and especially efficient powerplants. And there’s a 5 Series model for almost every taste. The latest entry-level 520d for example provides feisty hot-hatch performance, yet claims a combined consumption figure of 65.7mpg and CO² emissions of just 109g/km, whilst at the other end of the 5 Series spectrum the 535d M Sport is almost an M5 diesel in all but name. Yet incredibly this 5.3-second to 62mph model too boasts a super-frugal combined consumption figure of 52.3mpg. Two very different saloons undoubtedly – but both share the same lust for efficiency. Furthermore, examples of either can be bought from your local BMW dealer, complete with warranty, for exactly the same sum.

    So you could splash out £35,000 on a brandnew mildly-optioned 520d SE – spec’d to your own individual taste – or alternatively put your cash down on a more appealing nearly-new 535d M Sport, which has already suffered the worst of its depreciation. Both choices have their attractions, and both come with the warm reassurance of a BMW warranty. But after a typical three-year ownership period which will have proved the better buy?

    Looking good

    Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. And although the styling of the latest 5 Series won’t take your breath away, there’s no denying it possesses more than a modicum of presence. Purposeful and athletic, yet svelte and slinky, the Five exudes a sunny disposition but retains that trade-mark aggressive front end – with a condensed kidney grille and an angrylooking stare. In full-blown 535d M Sport trim the F10 is quite imposing on the road, especially in black.

    Comfortable yet corporate, the 520d SE doesn’t possess the 535d’s deep front spoiler or foglamps, or its striking 19-inch alloys, but still sits low enough to the deck. And with its long wheel-base it cuts a lowprofile dash in the company car park. It lacks any feelgood details though, like M Sport kick-plates and front-wing badging; and the small twin-exhaust back box is a tad puny compared to the 535d M Sport’s meatier separate twin exhausts.

    Our black 535d also has better in-cabin appeal, with contrasting cream upholstery in place of the 520d’s standard black fare; although the chequered carbon-fibre look dash trim in this 535d M Sport won’t appeal to all. The driving experience, however, will.

    The 313hp 535d M Sport possesses prodigious torque (465lb ft at 1500rpm) and delivers low-end pulling power in every gear. And yet it’s responsive and refined too. Muscular and effortless, its sheer pace and acceleration are a revelation. Fast but never furious, it’s a gem of an engine, and at lower speeds the 535d can still be docile and smooth – happy to cruise quietly to the shops. It is 125kg heavier than its 520d little brother, but you’d never know it – on faster B-roads it feels as quick as a Porsche Boxster. And with powerful brakes reining you in whenever the need arises, you can cover ground alarmingly quickly.

    The 520d in contrast is punchy rather than potent, with the benchmark 0-62mph dash covered in 7.7 seconds. It’s still torquey, though, with 295lb ft available from just 1750rpm – so overtaking is never a problem. And whether you’re cruising up and down the motorway, or blasting down a country lane, in Comfort mode the 520d always delivers a superbly comfortable ride – whilst retaining just enough dynamic involvement. At higher motorway speeds however you may prefer Sport mode, with its slightly firmer suspension and steering responses.

    Always composed and relaxed, the 520d SE is genuinely enjoyable to drive, but once you’ve driven a 535d M Sport – which is frankly a league and a half quicker – you’ll always feel slight pangs of envy every time you see one on the road.

    The complete package

    Whilst the 535d M Sport has its lower-powered sibling licked on the road, the new 520d still has an impressive kit list, with £32,260 SE models like the Glacier silver saloon you see here claiming 17-inch alloy wheels, an electric parking brake, cruise control, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC+), Business navigation, front and rear parking sensors, rain sensitive wipers, leather upholstery, part-electrically adjustable front seats, automatic air-con, electric windows, multi-function steering wheel, Bluetooth, a single-CD stereo, a seven-inch colour display with iDrive and a trip computer. And for around £3000 extra you could also opt for a 520d M Sport instead, with the M Sport suspension, aerodynamics package, 18-inch double-spoke alloys, spor ts seats, an M Spor t steering wheel and gear knob, and extra aluminium trim.

    The standard price is for a six-speed manual saloon, but many buyers will prefer the 5 Series with the optional #ZF8HP eight-speed automatic Steptronic transmission, which adds £1550 to the list price. Other popular options include an M Sport steering wheel for £110, split/fold rear seats at £335, front sports seats at £475, Adaptive headlights at £540 and full climate control for £305. All these options are present on our 520d SE test car, adding £4865 to the list price and taking the cost to £37,125.

    That’s the asking price for a one-year-old BMW Approved Used #2014 #BMW-535d M Sport saloon with just 10,000 miles on the clock. A slightly older 15,000-mile September 2013 example – like the Metallic Carbon black saloon you see here – is even cheaper at £34,000. So even if you could glean a sizeable discount on a new 520d you can still pick up a nearly-new Approved Used 535d M Sport saloon for the same money. And with identical practicality and an even better spec, the more potent Five offers more for your money. Most main-dealer examples (which were priced at £48,920 when new) come with at least one of five available option packs – BMW Navigation, BMW ConnectedDrive, the Dynamic package, the Visibility package and the Comfort Package. In addition to this, all cars come with the full M Spor t package as standard, and quite a few examples also boast goodies like heads-up display, blind spot warning, 19-inch alloys and a rear spoiler. All carry the eight-speed automatic transmission as standard.

    Decision time
    There’s no doubt then that a one- or two-year-old #BMW-535d-M-Sport has the new #BMW-520d-SE saloon beaten in terms of styling and spec. And the Approved Used Five’s appeal as a driving tool is clearly much greater too. But any buying decision has to take into account ownerships costs too. And in this sector of the market that’s the over-riding factor.

    With the very latest technology on board the 520d SE Saloon, at 65.7mpg combined consumption, has the 535d M Sport beaten at the pumps. So after a typical three-year ownership period, assuming an annual mileage of 15,000 miles a year, the 520d SE owner will spend around £942 less on fuel at today’s prices. And greater engine efficiency also means they will have saved £375 on their road tax bill too. In addition, estimated servicing and maintenance costs are around £455 higher for the 535d M Sport, and insurance costs are £249 greater for our typical 5 Series buyer. All of which leaves the 520d buyer over £2000 better off after three years. A substantial sum.

    However, if either car is bought outright at current BMW or independent finance loan rates then we must also factor in depreciation. And here it’s the Approved Used 535d M Sport that holds all the aces. With the first year of heavy depreciation behind it, it will lose less in value over the subsequent three years than a new 520d SE – to the tune of £2711. And that completely cancels out the new car’s advantage, leaving the used 535d M Sport actually marginally cheaper to own.

    Some buyers will opt for PCP, or even personal contract hire instead of fully financing a new 520d SE, but if you consider this route you must compare all costs closely. Interest rates can be higher for PCP and you will only own part of the car at the end of three years. For comparison, typical current independent borrowing loan rates for home owners are 3.8-8.5 per cent APR.

    Current BMW offers on new 520d also include Personal Contract Hire at £329 a month for 48 months, but you would have to put down £5899 initially – and there’s a hefty 8.72 pence-per-mile excess charge. Add this lot up and it’s a couple of grand less than the depreciation on a used 535d M Sport – but you won’t own anything at the end of three years.

    The nearest equivalent PCP is currently £478 a month with a £451 deposit and a #BMW / dealer deposit of £4709. At 5.9 per cent APR this sounds good, but the optional final payment is £11,925, and the excess charge is 6.75 pence-per-mile. Buying the car outright may hit your wallet less in the end. Both our 5 Series contenders pack cast-iron BMW warranties, and right now there are plenty of mintcondition Approved Used 535d M Sport Saloons advertised for sale at dealers, so finding one with the colour and spec you require won’t prove hard. That said, collecting a brand new 520d saloon with your ideal spec and options will be an absolute pleasure, and there are no waiting lists for factory orders. Both these 5 Series make tempting buys in their own right, but impressive though the new 520d SE Saloon is it’s the Approved Used 535d M Sport Saloon which holds greater appeal – not only to the heart, but also to the head.
    Many thanks to BMW Specialist Cars Tring ( for its assistance with this feature.

    New #2015 #BMW-520d-SE-F10 vs Used #BMW-535d-M-Sport-F10
    (New) 520d SE (Used) - 535d M Sport
    ENGINE: Four-cylinder, 16-valve diesel #B47 - Six-cylinder, 24-valve turbo diesel #N57 #N57D30T1
    CAPACITY: 1995cc 2993cc
    MAX POWER: 190hp @ 4000rpm - 313hp @ 4400rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 280lb ft @ 1750rpm - 465lb ft @ 1500rpm
    0-62MPH: 7.7 seconds - 5.3 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 144mph - 155mph
    COMBINED ECONOMY: 68.9mpg - 52.3mpg
    ESTIMATED DEPRECIATION: £22,535 - £19,824
    FUEL COSTS: £3677 - £4619
    ROAD TAX: £60 (CO² 109g/km) - £435 (CO² 148g/km)
    TYPICAL INSURANCE: £840 (group 34) - £1089 (group 45)
    TOTAL COST PER MONTH: £827 (averaged over 3 years) - £808 (averaged over 3 years)

    Costs estimated over three years at the time of writing, assuming 2015 VED rates and fuel costs and a similar purchase price for a car covering 15,000 miles a year – insured by a 45-year-old project manager living in the Midlands.

    Any buying decision has to take into account ownerships costs and in this sector of the market that’s the over-riding factor.

    The 535d M Sport is undoubtedly nicer to look at both on the inside and outside. It helps this model is fitted with contrasting cream leather.
    Purposeful and athletic, yet svelte and slinky, the Five exudes a sunny disposition.

    The new #BMW-B47 four-cylinder in the current 520d may be around 125hp and 175lb ft down on the 535d, but it still drives very well with plenty of grunt on tap for overtaking. It’s also a whole lot better on fuel.
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    CAR #BMW #F10 #M5
    YEAR: #2012
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 41,422
    MPG THIS MONTH: 21.4
    £120 (Connected Drive renewal)

    I have been away with work and on a family skiing holiday this month and, as a result, the #BMW-M5 has spent a lot of time stationary in a car park. It started first time after a couple of weeks of inaction and has run without any problems since. It did demand a litre of oil, though, and this was added by the good folk at BMW Swindon under the Service Inclusive pack.

    The odd small flurry of snow has, so far, offered no challenge to the winter tyres with the M5 driving through the cold weather and snow with ease. Thanks to good quality screenwash, and effective airflow I have never struggled to clear the windscreen although I do sometimes wish that a heated windscreen had been on the options list. I have it on other cars and it does dramatically cut down the time it takes to clear away ice on a cold morning.

    The car is now coming up to three years old and the reminder of this arrived on the doorstep in the form of a renewal form for the Connected Drive. Although I collected the car on 1 March 2012, the Connected Drive was registered in February so that was why the polite request for £120 for the next 12 months arrived in January. £10 per month for a data connection does seem quite strong but it does allow me to send routes and data to the car from the BMW website. It also enables the Google local search functions and the very effective traffic data. I therefore signed up for another year. I pay less than this for the 3G data on my iPad, so it does seem pretty expensive given the amount of data that the service uses. However, as not having the Connected Drive functions active would be a bit of a pain, and I do use them fairly often, I coughed up.

    Next month is going to see the #BMW-M5-F10 on a winter road trip across Europe. We shall see if BMW’s reputation for poor winter driving characteristics survives the reality of the Alps in winter, or if fitting the right kit makes the car usable in any conditions that it is likely to encounter, short of going off-road that is.
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    The ballistic GKD Legend Six. With 330hp in a 700kg body, the #GKD-Legend-Six is a ferociously fast road machine.

    We’ve previously covered the GKD Legend that utilised E36 #318iS mechanicals and we were mightily impressed, but with #E36-M3-Evo power under the bonnet, this version is even more spectacular. The machine we have here, built by owner Jason Spencer, was the first Legend Six that’s been fully assembled and registered on the road but if our driving experience is anything to go by, it certainly won’t be the last.

    The Legend Six is ferociously fast. Not fast like an #F10 #M5 , fast like a Lockheed Lightening jet. With around 330hp in a car that weighs a little over 700kg, think 0-62mph in less than 3.5 seconds and a 0-100mph time of less than eight. But perhaps what’s most impressive is the way that it delivers its performance – by all means go chasing the headline figures by using all the #M-Power ’six’s revs, but even if you knock it back a notch and short-shift at 4000rpm you’re still going to be travelling faster than most supercars. And the lack of a windscreen in Jason’s example makes it seem ten times faster than it is.

    Where this kit car really scores is that with a kit from #GKD and a donor #E36 or #E46 the vast majority of the build is plug ’n’ play and as the standard ECU is used it makes the tricky electronic side of this much easier for the amateur builder. How far you go with the spec is up to you, but Jason’s machine here has been assembled to a very high standard and features Racelogic traction control, comfy yet supportive seats, a removable steering wheel, Stack instrumentation and a Stack data logger.

    With a power-to-weight ratio of somewhere in the region of 450hp/tonne it should come as no surprise that the GKD is devastatingly quick. Twist the key, hear that BMW ’six erupt into life and there’s a sense of drama even when sitting still, especially as the glorious exhaust exits just below your right elbow. Slotting the stubby-machined gear knob into first (and this is a five-speed unit as it saves around 17kg over the six-speed version) and pulling away is strangely undramatic. All the controls have a nice BMW-esque feel to them and you can easily potter about in a high gear letting the torque do the work as you get used to the driving experience.

    Dropping a couple of cogs and flooring the throttle elicits a howl of approval from the #S50 up front while the rear Toyos dig deep and somehow find the grip to launch you at the horizon. Straight-line speed is all well and good, but what’s going to happen when you hit the twisties? The Mintex/Black Diamond brake combo washes off speed without any drama and the GKD simply turns in and goes where you point it. You try again, but with a little bit more speed and the effect is the same – grip levels are huge. I’ve never driven a machine with such brilliantly adjustable handling – it flatters your driving, whether you choose to drive slow-in, fast-out, or play the hooligan and chuck it sideways at every opportunity. In short the GKD will do exactly what you ask it to do and this must be testament to the quality of the kit, but also Jason’s attention to detail during the build that included having the car corner weighted for the perfect setup.

    The GKD is hugely entertaining, ballistically quick, yet can also be docile and comfortable – it even rides the B-roads very well. It’ll return over 30mpg and if it had the optional windscreen and some weather gear it would be practical, too. Jason spent around £13k assembling his high-spec example, GKD reckons you could build a lower spec one for £9k. That’s massively tempting…

    2015 GKD Legend Six

    Engine: 3.2-litre straight-six #S50B32 (M3 E36 3-series #BMW )
    Transmission: Five-speed manual
    How many: There’s a few about
    What is it: Ballistic British Bavarian-powered kit car
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