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Test Drives
21 Apr 09 11:52
BMW 520 d Torque of the Town
John K. Lindgren
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I belong to those who thought a Diesel, an "oil burning" BMW just was not going to fly in Thailand. The exclusive and sporty German Beemers in the Kingdom have always been powered by petrol, gasoline, benzine or 95 octane non-leaded fossil fuel. But never diesel oil.

The diesels were those rattling, shaking black acrid smoke belching commercial vehicles; 10-wheel trucks, the canary yellow train locomotives, the green dump trucks and the ubiquitous beat up, dented flat bed pick-up trucks but never a coveted Made in Deutschland BMW.

Flash forward to 2006 when the Munich based Bayerische Motoren Werke jumped on the diesel band wagon in Thailand with the launch of the 5-series four-door saloon BMW 520d identical to its petrol powered sibling the BMW 520i except for contents in the engine room.

The difference between the 520i (injection) and 520d (diesel) are significantly lower fuel bills and almost no maintenance since diesel engines just run and run, like a Swiss certified chronometer wristwatch.


bmw_520_w670_1.jpg
BMW Bangle Design

The BMW 520d is designed by Chris Bangle the often controversial bearded Californian ueber automobile stylist. Bangle after he was finished with his total redesign of the the prestigious 7-series Bangle had managed to have a website named after him: I hate chrisbangle.com created by conservative BMW aficionados after Bangles super radical restyling of the luxury 7-series BMW flagship.

The CarSanook.com demo unit was the was the recently 'face lifted' 520d model.
This is the BMW 5-series, the "fiver" par excellence, right between the entry level 3-series and the long, luxury limousine, the 7-series. The striking bold white glass headlights, the iconic BMW twin kidney grille, the big bulging wheel arches housing 17-inch mag wheels, very "Bee Emm", indeed. The side view reveals a long slender, perfectly designed vehicle and the posterior view shows the new 5-series design language; the less is more concept accentuated by the crimson red, round and square brake lights and a small shark fin radio antenna on the roof.

Engine
As the model appellation (the badge on the trunk lid) indicates, the 520d has a 2,0-liter, four-cylinder turbo diesel engine. Exterior, silver gray metallic paint job with texture and luster. This is a sleek and powerful machine. Achtung Baby! Two liter or 2,000 cc is actually more than enough in these challenging times or global warming and contracting world economies.

bmw_520_w670_3.jpg
Interior
Step inside. 520d's plush cabin, devoid of any noise, harshness or vibration, is a showcase of automotive tranquility and elegance and it smells delicious! The refined scent coming from premium lush montana leather and the burr walnut panels. Noise? The 520d is by far the most quiet diesel vehicle and totally vibration free. No more "A whole lotta shakin' going on" or diesel shaking. The cockpit is driver focused and an example of perfect ergonomics. And the often ridiculed i-drive info-tainment center was amazingly easy to operate just click-press-turn. Everything on the 6,5-inch color screen: FM radio, CD-tracks and pertinent driving/engine information. The best FM radio dial, by far. I love i-drive because its so form and function.

Driving impressions
On the tarmac to the hinterlands of Khampeng Phet in the NW along the new four-lane Bangkok-Nakhon Sawan highway the 520d was flying like the wind. Amazing torque powered acceleration. A tap on the gas pedal. Swooosshhh! The speedo going 100... 150... 180... 200 kilometers per hour. And my 17 years old daughter: "Daddyyyy! You're going to faaast!" And the brakes? Very assuring, butter smooth but so precise. Tremendous torque. The Turbo inter-cooler powered torque acceleration with 163 horse power on tap connected to a seamless six-speed automatic shifter. Delivers! Overtaking is swift, safe and fun! And now the the amazing fuel economy: 14.5 kilometer per litre! Only half tank 35 litres to reach the hils of Khampeng Phet 410 kilometers from Bangkok. Full tank (70 liters) will take you all the way to Chiang Mai. No refueling! No Kidding!

Verdict
BMW 520 Diesel is the ultimate sports saloon. No debate. Period. You want the looks, driving fun nd the amazing (fuel) economy? And the sticker price? A cool 3,6 million THB. Check your savings account!

www.bmw.co.th
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