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 it.

What Car? readers say


Key facts

7.9 secs
Top speed
147 mph
Average mpg
Tank range
1012 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, particularly if you opt for the automatic, which is even more efficient than the manual and so offers impressively low company car tax costs and great real-world economy. 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 523i SE 4dr

The dealers never had test cars with VDC and they didn’t recommend it. After a few days in a 520d Luxury on 18inch run flats, I think the press are…

Phil Robson

3 out of 5 stars

BMW 5 Series Saloon 520d M Sport 4dr

I have just taken delivery of my 64 reg 520d M sport Auto in Carbon Black. This replaced my 2012 almost like for like Alpina White. I had been told…

Rafiq Chohan

5 out of 5 stars

BMW 5 Series Saloon 520d M Sport 4dr

An absolutely superb car. a great driving experience with a unique blend of quality, performance, handling and economy, comfortably returning almost…

Colin Walters

5 out of 5 stars

BMW 5 Series Saloon M5 4dr

One thing I didn't reckon on when I bought my M5 earlier this year was the number of admirers. Whether waiting at lights, on the motorway or parked,…

Chris Laythorpe

5 out of 5 stars
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