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WhatCar? Awards 2012

Executive cars

BMW 520d Efficient Dynamics

Green Awards 2012: Executive cars runner-up

Volkswagen Polo Hatchback Sponsor image


List Price: £30,435
Target Price: £28,039

Key facts

True MPG 54.5mpg
True CO2 144g/km
Particulates 0.1mg/km
Govt MPG 62.8mpg
Govt CO2 119g/km
NOx 169mg/km

The BMW 520d Efficient Dynamics might have missed out on the Green Executive Car gong - pipped, it must be said, by its smaller brother, the 320d ED - but it’s still a comfortable runner-up.

The figures delivered by the 520d ED are pretty astonishing. Its 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine produces 181bhp, but a list of small efficiency improvements, and taller gear ratios, help it to deliver a remarkable Government fuel economy figure of 62.8mpg (giving it a theoretical range of 967 miles), and just 119g/km of CO2 emissions.

Better still, the big Beemer does a decent job of getting close to its official figure; our own True MPG analysis of the car, calculated on British roads and in a mix of urban and motorway traffic, comes out at a very respectable 54.5mpg.

Nor, we’re pleased to say, has this efficiency been achieved at the expense of driveability. Sure, the gear ratios are a little taller, but the engine has more than enough low-down flexibility to overcome them; performance remains strong. So does refinement; sit at motorway speeds and you’d struggle to tell the difference between the leaner 520d and the ultra-luxurious, petrol-engined 550i. It’s that good.

The cabin is beautifully finished, and there’s room for four adults and their luggage. From the front seats BMW’s iDrive system manages the infotainment system; now in its umpteenth incarnation, it has been refined into the class-leading controller.

Negatives? Well, you can’t have it with an automatic transmission, which is a bit of a black mark in this area of the market. But frankly, if you’re a company car chooser and you’re shopping for something this size, you’d be crazy to not have the 520d ED at the top of your shortlist.

Read the full BMW 5 Series review

What other cars did we rate highly?

See all of the section winners