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The 520d is the most inexpensive of BMW's 5 Series, but its low fuel-consumption means you will get more bang for your buck in the long run. — Picture by Leow Ju-LenThe 520d is the most inexpensive of BMW's 5 Series, but its low fuel-consumption means you will get more bang for your buck in the long run. — Picture by Leow Ju-LenSINGAPORE, May 19 — Fans of BMW would probably say that the only thing better than driving one is to upgrade to a newer one — perhaps one just like the new BMW 520d.

And yes, the 520d has plenty going for it. The “d” in its name means that the car has a diesel engine — a 2.0-litre, turbocharged affair with 190 horsepower. But it may well stand for “different”, because the top sellers in this class have only ever been petrol-powered.

True, the diesel engine’s slightly croaky voice does take some getting used to, but it gives the 520d two big advantages over its rivals.

The first is a huge burst of mid-range pulling power that provides an exhilarating way of picking up speed, and is particularly useful when you have to dart for gaps in traffic.

The second big plus is its tiny appetite for fuel. On paper, this BMW can comfortably travel more than 1,300km before needing a refill. That is akin to driving down the Pan-island Expressway (PIE) — from Changi to Tuas, which is a distance of about 42.8km — about 30 times before refuelling.

We tested the 520d’s fuel economy by hitting the highway to Kuala Lumpur and back. The result? Exactly 1,000km and seven food stops later, we returned with the trip computer showing 66km left in the tank.

While that fuel consumption rate of 6.5 litres per 100km did not match up to the official consumption claim, it must be said that we were, at various points, racing it into the ground, or stewing in one of KL’s infamous traffic jams, or heading to the hills outside the Malaysian capital to tackle some empty, twisty roads with gusto to experience the BMW’s fine handling balance.

Doing all that with fuel to spare is more than what most cars can manage. Furthermore, the 520d is a preternaturally comfortable machine. It lacks the fancier seats of the other, pricier 5 Series models, but the chairs up front are plush and supportive.

The 520d does not have adjustable suspension, however, which means it jiggles noticeably when you hit bumpy tarmac. But the truth is that you can pretty much arrive at your destination after a long drive in the same shape as when you left, which is what you want from a luxury car.

Will conservative drivers be put off by the diesel engine? Maybe, but the 520d’s excellent tank range more than makes up for it when it comes to cars at this end of the market.

Which bring us to the price: At S$266,800 (RM829,199.44) with COE, it is the cheapest of the new 5 Series models, which is traditionally BMW’s best-selling range in Singapore.

And if you have come far enough to afford a car at this price point, you might as well choose one that can take you pretty far. — TODAY

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