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For The turbodiesel engine is strong, smooth and efficient, while the sumptuously trimmed, smartly-styled cabin makes you feel special every time you get in the BMW 5 Series 520d SE. Refinement is top-notch, too.

Against In its standard form, the 5 Series isn’t comfortable enough for an executive saloon, and it’s not as fun to drive as it should be. Variable Damper Control sorts this out, but costs a lot extra.

BMW 5 Series Saloon

What Car? says

5 out of 5 stars

No other executive car can rival the BMW 5 Series 520d SE for refinement, quality or efficiency. Adding Variable Damper Control makes it great to drive, too, but be warned - it’s not nearly as good without.

What Car? readers say


Key facts

8.1 secs
Top speed
145 mph
Average mpg
Tank range
967 miles
See all running costs

View the whole BMW 5 Series Saloon range

Read in full

The full BMW 5 Series review

Buyer's notes

Target Price team says:

The 535i, 550i and the mighty M5 will deliver all the thrills you need, but the 5 Series will mainly be bought by pragmatists rather than enthusiasts.

That's why the 520d is the best option. This model's 2.0-litre diesel engine promises average almost 63mpg, and if you're a company car driver, the CO2 output of just 119g/km places the car in a low tax bracket. The six-cylinder 530d is also worth a look if you fancy a bit more power.

However, the standard suspension gives a lumpy ride and disappointing handling. That's why we recommend adding optional adaptive suspension (called VDC on four-cylinder models, Adaptive Drive on six-cylinder cars). These systems bring sharper handling and a more controlled ride.

Whichever engine and suspension you choose, entry-level SE trim is all you need; this comes with leather seats, a sat-nav, a DAB radio and xenon headlights.

Reader test team says:

BMW 5 Series Saloon 520d SE 4dr

I am a company car driver and took delivery of my 520d SE manual back in May 2011. To date I have covered over 95,000 miles with a real mixture of…


5 out of 5 stars

BMW 5 Series Saloon 520d SE 4dr

I must be the only one who disagrees with VDC option as it is not necessary and expensive. If you want sharp handling then buy an M Sport version and…

Khaled Zureiqi

5 out of 5 stars

BMW 5 Series Saloon 520d SE 4dr

I just took delivery of a 520d SE to replace my previous early model 525d F10 - 6 cyl - and am delighted with the change. Because I've specified VDC…

Roland Grant

4 out of 5 stars

BMW 5 Series Saloon 530d M Sport 4dr

I've had this car for 8 months now which was a replacement to my previous 525d. The performance is much better than the previous one particularly with…

Ardeshir Geranpayeh

5 out of 5 stars
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