Engines and gearboxes

* Every engine rated * Every trim reviewed * Option packs and kit explained...

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What Car? Staff
18 March 2011

Engines and gearboxes

So what are the most popular engines and transmissions? We find out the options that are likely to earn you more value when it comes to sell on.


Diesel engines account for 85 90% of 5 Series sales, and the bulk of those are 520d buyers. Low CO2 emissions, lower benefit-in-kind exposure and low fuel consumption are the main reasons, coupled with this engine's decent performance.

Of the petrol engines, it's the 523i and 528i that account for most of the sales.

**Diesel engines

520d** from 29,430 saloon, 31,815 Touring
This version accounts for 70% of 5 Series sales, and it's easy to see why. The four cylinder engine offers a strong blend of performance, economy and emissions. It's brisk and refined, without being rapid.

0-62mph 8.1sec
Average mpg 57.6mpg
CO2 emissions 129g/km
company car tax18%

525d 34,525 saloon, 36,800 Touring
Cost over 520d 5095/4985
This engine is smoother because it has six cylinders, but the performance gain is modest when compared with the big price hike, lower average mpg, higher CO2 and company car tax. Combined with the 530d, this takes 16% of 5 Series sales.

0-62mph 7.2sec
Average mpg 45.6mpg
CO2 emissions 162g/km
company car tax 24%

530d from 38,775 saloon, 41,050 Touring
Cost over 525d 4250/4250
The best buy if you want performance without breaking the bank. Usefully quicker than the 525d, for a modest increase in running costs.

0-62mph 6.3sec
Average mpg 44.8mpg
CO2 emissions166g/km
company car tax 25%

535d from 43,915 saloon, 46,190 Touring
Cost over 530d 5140/5140
The first choice of just 4% of 5 Series buyers; it's quick, and has better average mpg, company car tax and CO2 figures than the 530d, but costs an extra 5140.

0-62mph 5.7sec
Average mpg 46.3mpg
CO2 emissions 162g/km
company car tax 24%

**Petrol engines

523i** - from 32,700 saloon, 34,975 Touring
Not much swifter than the 520d, but a big hike in running costs. Around 7% of 5 Series buyers go for this engine or a 528i.

0-62mph 7.9sec
Average mpg 37.2mpg
CO2 emissions177g/km
company car tax24%

528i from 34,455 saloon, 36,855 Touring
Cost over 523i 1755/1880
Usefully faster than the 523i for not much more money, with only a modest running cost penalty. If you want petrol power, this is the one to buy.
0-62mph 6.6sec
Average mpg 36.2mpg
CO2 emissions182g/km
company car tax25%

535i from 38,895 saloon, 41,295 Touring
Cost over 528i 4440/4440
Swift and refined, but you pay a lot more than you do for the 528i. Around 2% of 5 Series owners choose this car.

0-62mph 6.0sec
Average mpg 33.2mpg
CO2 emissions 199g/km
company car tax 28%

550i from 53,040 saloon only
Cost over 535i 14,145
It's a V8, and attracts just 1% of 5 Series buyers. Strong and smooth, but you pay a lot of money for the luxury.

0-62mph 5.0sec
Average mpg 46.3mpg
CO2 emissions243g/km
company car tax35%

Note: All figures are for manual saloons except the automatic-only 535d and 550i

Eight-speed auto 1525; sport option 110
The 520d is split 50:50 manual to automatic - corporate buyers favour the manual for company car tax reasons - but the eight-speed auto is fitted to 90% of cars with six-cylinder engines.

Most buyers opt for the quicker-shifting Sport option, which provides gearshift paddles with the sport steering wheel.