BMW’s introduction of its emissions and fuel saving EfficientDynamics and the push towards stricter emissions-based taxation was a pure co-incidence, despite appearances.
The events really did catch BMW’s rivals napping though, and with the introduction of the new 5 Series Touring – and specifically the 520d with its 184bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel – BMW looks to have done it again.
Using its EfficientDynamics know-how, the 520d Touring returns a CO2 figure of 135g/km, while the saloon achieves 129g/km.
Only Audi’s A6 Avant in TDIe specification can get close to that with 139g/km.
The Audi’s 53.3mpg fuel consumption also falls short of the 55.4mpg from the new BMW.
And carrying capacities? The gargantuan boot of the Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class estate delivers 280 litres more capacity than the seats folded 1,670 litres of the BMW.
However, the Mercedes E220 CDI SE BlueEfficiency’s 150g/km is some way off the 135g/km of the 520d Touring SE.
What’s remarkable is that BMW has achieved its class-leading figures without compromising performance.
With 184bhp the 520d outguns its direct competition by as much as 42bhp, and beats all its rivals to 62mph with its 8.3 second time.
That’s the same number if you specify it with the optional eight-speed automatic, though the CO2 and mpg figures drop to 139g/km and 53.3mpg respectively.
With a comprehensive standard specification including Bluetooth telephone preparation, front and rear park distance control, Dynamic Stability Control Plus, leather seats and automatic air conditioning, the P11D price remains sensible, too.
Like its predecessors, access to the more practical rear load area is achieved via either the opening rear glass, or a full tailgate release.
Self-levelling rear suspension also comes as standard.
The usual versatile load options are offered with the 5, though a 40/20/40 split fold format and variable angle rear backrest on the rear seats make it more practical than most.
Numerous strap and brackets are available on the options should you want to carry bikes fixed in position inside.
Even strapped down securely you might not want muddy bikes in the 5’s smart interior, the dashboard layout and the materials it’s built from looking and feeling better quality than its key Mercedes-Benz rival.
Often with cars the numbers make sense but they don’t add up on the road.
The 520d shatters that comprehensively.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel delivers such easy performance you could be forgiven for thinking there are more cylinders and bigger capacities working under the bonnet.
It’s smooth and the means by which it shifts the big 5 Series are very impressive indeed
The standard six-speed manual is slick and the clutch light, the 520d Touring is a sweet spot in the engine line-up.
Fitted at the launch event with optional adaptive dampers, the 520d Touring was everything to everybody, allowing pillowy comfort in its softest settings, and sharper, more immediate responses in its most sporting choice.
The 520d is definitely the sweet spot in the range, with ample performance, excellent fuel economy and tax friendly emissions.
It’s an incredibly difficult car to find fault with.