BMW has made something of a habit of winning Fleet News Awards recently (nine in the past two years alone).
And it’s not just because of the desirable badge on the bonnet or the driving experience offered by its revered rear-wheel drive format.
The arrival of the fuel saving EfficientDynamics technology has changed the face or executive motoring in the fleet world.
No longer must a director be faced with punitive tax bills simply because he or she wants a car to match their office status.
In the case of the 5 Series, EfficientDynamics (brake energy regeneration, gearshift indicator, low rolling-resistance tyres and lightweight body panels) means that a director can opt for a £27,000 520d executive model and enjoy supermini-like levels of frugality.
CO2 emissions of 136g/km put the 520d in the 18% benefit-in-kind tax bracket, while BMW claims it will return an average of 55.4mpg.
Even if the driver returns mid to high 40s mpg in real-world driving, that’s a real result, both for the compnay and the driver.
And as emissions are comfortably below 160g/km there are more attractive writing down allowances.
The 520d’s performance on the balance sheet is very impressive, and still class-leading despite the car’s position in its lifecycle, and on the road it continues to impress.
The ride and handling are excellent, veering towards a firmer ride to match the car’s sporting saloon pretensions, while the 177bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine is by no means overwhelmed by the larger body of the 5 Series (remember, this engine is also used in the smaller 1 and 3 Series models).
The gearbox shifts cleanly, the engine pulls from low revs without complaint and the engine settles into a relaxed low rpm cruise at motorway speeds.
In SE trim the interior is somewhat austere and lacking in equipment, but BMW has recognised this with the option of a Business Edition model which costs £1,000 more than SE specification. For the money, you get additional equipment worth nearly £3,500 including leather seats, satellite navigation, Bluetooth telephony and a six-CD changer.
This package makes the interior seem a far more inviting place to be and boosts the 520d’s appeal.