The diesel-centric magazine, The Diesel Driver, gives us an European review of the new 2011 BMW 520d.
The 520d features a four cylinder turbo diesel engine producing a power output of 185 hp and 280 ft-lb of torque (380 Nm). The car delivers emission levels of 129g/km of CO2 as well as a combined fuel consumption of 48 MPG(US) – 5.2 liters per 100km (officially reported).
It achieves this through a combination of lightweight engineering (aluminum crankcase), the latest generation of common-rail direct fuel injection and a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry, mated to its four-cylinder engine. Eight-speed automatic gearbox is available on the 520d – the first time a four-cylinder powered vehicle has featured such an advanced transmission.
But does the BMW 520d deliver on its promises? Let’s have a look.
The last 10 km (6.2 miles) of the B9 took us to the French border near Lauterbourg mid afternoon. At that point, the BMW 520d was using 7.7 l/100 km (30.55 mpg) after a drive of 152 km (94.4 miles). Since, except for the very beginning, our maximum speed was limited most of the time to 120 km/h (every Autobahn had two lanes + emergency lane), we only achieved an average speed of 127.2 km/h (79 mph).
While the handling of the 520d was excellent and the performance was more than acceptable given the relatively small displacement (2-liter) four cylinder diesel, it was disappointing to see the final fuel economy numbers. Compared to the drive from Munich to Frankfurt, where the 520d used 6.2 l/100 km (38 mpg), the fuel economy on the drive to Sélestat was 7.3 l/100 km (32.22 mpg), an 18% increase in fuel usage. Our average speed was 117.6 km/h (73 mph) on a total distance of 266 km (165.2 miles).
Compare this to the following numbers we’ve seen on previous trips. In 2009, Jonathan Spira achieved the same fuel economy in the larger and heavier BMW 730d on a drive to Portorož. His average speed on that trip was 113 km/h (70 mph). Earlier this year, Jonathan and I drove the far more powerful BMW 535d to Bratislava and, with an average speed of 111 km/h (69 mph), it used three percent less fuel (7.1 l/100 km or 34 mpg) than the BMW 520d!