Blog: Graeme RobertsWagon, ho!

Graeme Roberts | 23 November 2010

UK standard spec is generous, option list vast

UK standard spec is generous, option list vast

Spent much of last night getting to know BMW's 520d Touring, courtesy of the car and its inch-thick handbook that is also duplicated in the iDrive display system in Windows-like context-sensitive help.

I've liked this model since Gen 1 in the 90s; the latest is the first to offer four cylinders and an eight-speed automatic and, though the rear end is steeply sloped, it offers a bit more load room than its predecessor. BMW claims 560 litres - up 60 - with all seats in use and all of that under the neat pull-out load cover which zips up automatically whenever the tailgate or class-unique separate opening rear window is unlatched. The 40/20/40 rear seatback split is also unique and practical; still unanswered is if the Roberts' humongeous tandem baby buggy fits.

Eight speeds of autobox keeps engine revs as low as possible so economy so far is 42mpg without even trying and the four-pot motor is a little grumbly at low speeds but not too intrusive. And it just flies off the line and surges away when overtaking oomph is needed; the maker quotes an 0-62mph time of 8.3sec for both the manual and the auto and 135g and 139g respectively of CO2 emissions which means low annual road tax for UK private buyers and low 'benefit in kind' tax for those lucky enough to drive one on the company's dime.

The latest iteration of iDrive is easier to use but can still confuse (how did I turn off the navigation again?) but just about everything else is intuitive and works as said on the tin. The press loaner has GBP8,000 of extras on top of its GBP30,380 'base' price, GBB1,500 of that for the ZF autobox, though standard spec including leather trim, Bluetooth, cruise, dual-zone climate, etc, etc is hardly impoverished.

Had I been ticking the order form, I'd have forgone the black headlining, aluminium interior highlights and black exterior highlights for the full keyless entry 'comfort access' package and an automatic tailgate but a new Beemer in the UK affords the buyer the luxury of a very customisable, option by option car as well as four money saving, importer determined packages covering visibility, media and dynamics.

In the lifecycle of the last model - which peaked with 4,611 units in 2008 and totalled 21,651 registrations overall in the UK - the 520d Touring proved the most popular, taking nearly 40% of sales, and similar levels are expected for the new model.

M Sport specification was specified on the vast majority (75%) of 5 series Touring models ordered in the UK and this is expected to continue. The UK market is third largest market in the world for Touring sales – behind Germany (51%) and Italy (13 per cent), and accounts for about 8% of the line's global sales.

The average age of UK buyers is noticeably younger than the sedan, at 47 years of age compared to 52, and the vast majority of customers are male.

That explains the appeal, then.



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