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So the time has come for me to finally retire my 2012 MY after 3 years of good motoring.
Till the day I signed off on the trade of the car, I have to say the looks are really one of the few things that really make this car so special. Unlike the A6 and Merc E class, the BMW has that understated charm to it, making it so elegant and simple yet current. I feel that the LCI makes it even better, in the rear at least. Especially the compared to the A6, the 5 still feels more timeless.
The engine, I kid you not, seriously deserves the Engine of the Year award. Which it did. Never have I seen such a well thought out engine with such refinement and drivability, considering this is one of their first 4 cylinder turbo engines. While the Audi bunch give a more punchy feel to the car (in the higher tune 2.0TFSi), the linearity and drivability of the N20 is still brilliant. What impresses me more was till the day I turned the car in, the engine still doesn't vibrate at all, and it just feels exactly the same way as per how I got it at the dealer 3 years ago with only 2 digits on the odometer. I never understood what on earth Motor Trend was complaining about for the N20 engine, cause tbh, I personally find the N20 a nicer engine than the competition (at the same range - bar the Porsche Macan's 2.0 T engine, which I rate highly).
In terms of fit and finish, on the whole, nothing broke in the 3 years, all I had was one button replaced as part of warranty, because the paint came off. But again, in comparison to my Japanese car before this, nothing broke! And it's an Inokom car!
BSRI finally came useful when I was due for a new set of brake pads and discs. Thank goodness for BSRI cause if not that would have been a 4 figure job alone. I did leave the original dealer for another BMW dealer and I must say, their aftersales experience was considered to be really up to standard. Everything is done in 60-70% of the time quoted, and everything is settled once and for all.
And now, finally the best part. The drive. By far and by large, I have yet to find a large sedan of the same size as the 5 that can out handle it. In fact, I had already been planning on finding a replacement for this car for some time, since I knew the 3 years was coming up and it was time to look at options to replace it with. Driving experience after being pampered by the scalpel sharp dynamics, meant i had that as my first priority.
I did test it against the following:
BMW X5 xDrive 35i
Porsche Macan 2.0T
BMW 320d M Sport
Audi A4 B8 1.8T
Mercedes-Benz E300 BLUETEC HYBRID
To be honest, I was still considering on whether or not I still needed the large rear and the boot, since I didn't really need it, but at the same time I was thinking on the sensible sides of things. I was ready to go into something smaller provided it was still a good driving car. Of the lot, while the A4 was impressive in the ride, the steering was absolutely lacking in feel, very Audi. The X5 on the other hand shocked me cause it floated all over the place on a straight highway stretch. I guess the rear air suspensions still needed work, but it was not confidence inspiring, considering the X5 is viewed as the next step for a 5 owner. The 320d and the E class twins came close though, but the issue was I couldn't get a test drive for the E300 Hybrid, so I was not planning on taking a risk. I did enjoy the 320d a lot, but unfortunately I did find it a bit too low for me - making it difficult for my passengers to get in and out. Plus, its a fact the interior is not the best in class, and the LCI for that is coming soon so not a good idea - though one in Estoril Blue looked stunning. The Macan 2.0T was I guess the closest option I had to upgrade to from the 5, but the price was eyewatering for a small SUV. If it started at 350k and tapered off with options about 430k, I'd have bought it. But by order of elimination, it looked like I couldn't find a real replacement to this gem of a handler - so I decided, time for another 5! Seriously, the way this car can cosset you and waft in comfort mode, and attack corners in Sport and Sport+ giving others a run for the money is amazing.
It's not the best in some respects though. For a start, seat comfort is still not the best. I still found the E class with a better of seats - mainly in terms of materials. I always had this against BMW's Dakota leather, it feels worse than the leatherette used in a Porsche - and that's like the cheapest material on a Porsche! I never had this on BMW's Merino Leather in their ///M cars, so... Porsche Malaysia's leather selection on the Macan is seriously amazing. Absolutely love some of the interiors they have done, and especially their full leather or natural leather interiors, it's so soft and comfortable. Come on BMW Malaysia, I'd actually pay for the Merino leather!
Toys too while has improved over the pre-LCI (iDrive touch, iDrive 4.2 - with the seriously cool graphics, Adaptive LED lights, comfort access) make it a better buy, but again the E class does come with a sunroof and the Collision Prevention Assist tech which should have been standard in this class. Having said that, I would trade the sunroof for the Adaptive M suspension that this BMW has, it's really worth it.
Boot too still has the same niggling issue where you can't fold the rear seats down. But that's just nitpicking really.
Long term value. Well this is the biggest elephant in the room I would say. For a start, buying the car was about what I would have expected at this range. Overall maintenance for me over 3 years wasn't really painful at all, BSRI took care of most of the drama. Tyres are eyewatering though and no way can you elect to have a spare. Also, when it came to trade up for a newer model, while I did go back to the same brand for part-exchange, I would have preferred something a bit higher considering brand loyalty and all. Having said that, looking at the values of the Jag XF made me convinced that the BMW was a more sensible buy. It's shocking how a year old XF and a 2 year old 528i have similar prices in the market.
On a whole, I would say my BMW experience has cemented some brand loyalty over the last few years. BSRI has finally been sorted out, so now we get the benefit of using it every 15k or 1 year as opposed to the older 30k intervals.
Having said that, BMW Malaysia should seriously consider increasing the new car warranty. 2 years is absolutely pathetic and while I have upgraded my new 5 with 5 year BSRI, I would still prefer if that was standard instead.
And come on, give us driver training for the M Sport models!
All in all, great car - can't wait to see what's in the next 5 already.
Excellent torque at low rpm.
Quiet engine at high gears.
Handles well for a big car.
No lumbar support for a car in the Executive segment.
LCI Steering wheel too thin. Pre LCI has thicker steering wheel.
AUTO HOLD function need to be turned on via push button on centre console. If it is on reverse parking becomes a problem if you come to a dead stop, coz you need to step a bit harder than you should to disengage and risk over-accelerating...while reverse parking. Mercedes Benz does it better, no buttons, step harder on brakes and let go...brake holds...does not hold when reversing.
PARK Distance sensor ...same problem. Only comes ON with a press of a button on centre console. Again Mercedes does it better by having it come ON at below certain speeds..think its 20km/h.
I am almost 6' tall but visibility is poor if seat height is set low.
Steering adjustment is too limited. Feel the steering wheel is too high and too far away.This also blocks the instrument cluster view.
iDrive control is on passenger side of centre console! Can't see radio button, can only feel.
1. Thicker steering wheel as per pre LCI.
2. Lumbar support.
3. HOLD function without push button activation.
4. Park assist enabled at low speeds.
5. iDRIVE control knob on driver side.
6. More storage space in centre console.
(I am summarising this review) handling, stability, traction, power (245 bhp and 350nm which makes the car pull like there is no tomorrow is excellent. You feel no slowing in accleration up till 200+ kph and there is absolutely no lag when you poor your foot down), space is big though a Camry has about 2-3 inches more noticeable rear legroom, 3 adults, one 5 foot 10 and two over 6 feet fit comfortably though Middle was a bit uncomfortable as the transmission tunnel is big. Gearbox Is much more responsive that ever and is much smoother than any if the competitors, not much wind or road noise at high speeds, fun to play with in sport and sport plus mode. Eco pro is easy to use for those who are scared of too much power, very nice too look at, much more economical than the 3.0 inline 6 though response is the same, rev happy. Sophists grey and cinnamon brown along with m sport is the best combination
Auto start stop is a bit rough when restarting, boot is narrower that the competition (though wider), sadly losing integral active steering on lci models, you won't like to park in a shopping mall full of Alza's or myvi's as you may scratch the car and get elbow knocks.
Make cinnamon brown available with sophists grey on m sport models in the lci. Also include reverse camera as standard (though current park distance control system is still great)
520d (New LCI model)
1 - The low end torque was awesome and effortless overtaking
2 - Can easily reach 180-200 km/h on highway and still it doesn't feel fast at all
3 - The gear change is very fast and the RPM is very low at higher speed which is a good to save fuel
4 - This LCI model has improve in term of handling by reducing the body roll and the ride is well balance between comfort and sport.
5 - idrive system is very useful and user friendly
6 - Fuel consumption very impressive! i can go up to 1186 km in single tank then the fuel indicator lights up. U can still go up to 120km actually
7 - comfort+ mode very fluffy and comfortable when driving on rough n bumpy road
8 - At higher speed, the engine was very quiet and cant hear diesel engine at all. Feels like driving an electric car when u put on the eco pro mode
1 - noticeable wind noise at higher speed (above 140km)
2 - a bit afraid when driving on windy road
3 - diesel clattering sound a bit annoying during slow driving (below 40km)
1 - Need to improve on the sound insulation inside the cabin
2 - The standard equipment for diesel model should be as much as the 520i model (4 zone climate control, hands-free boot, keyless entry, soft headrest for front seat, better rim and steering wheel)
Excellent handling with good traction. Very powerful on Sport Mode. Like the AutoH system which allow you to take your foot off the break at traffic light (not recommended during parking). Fuel consumption is reasonable on highway Eco mode at around 6L/100km. The hand free boot opening function is very helpful when you hand is full. The Bluetooth system work very well for people that is always on the phone. The auto cruise is a good one where you can change the speed by switching the interruption rocker. It like drive with a mouse.
I hate the auto engine off. I have to manually switch off all the time. This is not a practical one due to hot weather. Imagine you stop your car at traffic light, then the engine is auto switch off to save fuel, then it start the engine again after few second. The back seat indeed has very little leg room.
Add in the Auto Distance function as standard. Should follow China step to have optional Long version, where by the overall length is increase and leg room is increase.
(Pre-LCI 528i M Sport) this car is rock steady and there is absolutely no body lean on the corners apart from very very mild lean on the more harder corners.
I drive system is a pleasure to play around with and is very useful. Can be turned off if is too distracting. Settings configuration is very easy if you have experimented it.
Seats are very grippy and rear seats are very very wide. Seems huge for two in the rear but is just right if not a bit big with three adults (all 5 foot 10 and above. One was over 6 feet tall).
Entrance and exit is very easy, car is easy to manoeuvre with the integral active steering and tight steering radius. Very precise to point with very good feedback.
Eco Pro, Comfort plus, Comfort, Sport, and Sport plus all have noticeable changes which can be configured on the idrive.
Centre console is very unique, feels more fresher than the E class or Audi.
Performance is excellent with the Twin Power Turbo with 245 hp and 350 nm of torque. Gearbox is smooth, car is very spacious and comfortable.
No fading from the brakes and the power is always there, fuel economy is good especially in Eco-pro. Sport is easy to pinpoint the car in corners makes you feel more confident driving the car. Sport plus is the same as Sport but it partially deactivated the traction control and is more thrilling.
Huge heads up display is helpful showing you the speed and navi directions. Build quality is great though better on CBU cars. Everything about the car is excellent. Traction is phenomenal with the wide rear tires and the car just wants to do a high speed corner. Sophisto Grey is beautiful especially with the Cinnamon Brown interior.
If you ever buy this car, buy it in Sophisti Grey exterior with Cinnamon Brown interior. It's beautiful along with the M Sport. You will never want to stop looking at it with those three - Sophisti Grey exterior - Cinnamon Brown interior - M Sport kit
If you can BUY IT!!!!!
It occasionally feels a bit wide in narrow roads though the car isn't as wide as it feels, reverse camera should be standard for a long and wide car. No complaints of the power or the drivetrain (if you are scared of too much power, Eco pro makes the steering lighter and the throttle more dull so it is not as powerful.
Easy to start with before you move to comfort or sport. This is a good point) for a six foot person behind another six foot person, headroom or legroom is not a problem though there is only 3-4 inches of legroom ( which though it is big is still smaller than a Camry which has about 5-6 inches. Bigger then the E class though) Finally, you would not want to take your 5 to a crowded shopping mall without a chauffeur would you?
I was completely paranoid as the other people came in myvi or exora or cheaper cars like that so you will feel scared of elbow knocks or scratches unless you go it a high class mall which you may because you drive a high class car. I was scared when I parked my car but yay nobody scratched it.
It just deserves more respect than to be parked in a shopping mall, open to potentially jealous people who like to scratch your car with a stroller or pram or something like that. You just feel scared but it's not like anybody will scratch your car is it? There's like thousands more to scratch.
Make reverse camera standard. Make Adaptive Cruise control, blind spot warning system, and auto parking standard but don't increase the price. This way you won't have to worry about the competition. Maybe interior legroom by an inch. No denying it's a big car but a bit bigger would be nicer. Maybe 40l bigger boot? Next gen for that.
Brilliant performance from the N20 engine, turbo lag is non existent, revs happily, and definitely feels more than 245bhp/350Nm. It has to be more as it is so powerful.
Ride and handling is probably class leading. Very comfortable ride in Comfort mode, but in Sport more, it can really attack corners flat and rides very well on the highway.
Supremely quiet at highway speeds, with the 8 speed gearbox responding to every whim you have. Speaking of which, the gearbox shifts really fast like a dual clutch auto, but smooth at the same time like a normal auto.
Understated sophisticated design, very simple, but very classy at the same time. Its a car with absolutely fantastic engineering.
Build quality while is better than the Japanese, is still not 100% BMW on CKD models. The CBU models feel better with closer fit lines and tighter fit and finish. Seats while are very supportive, should have more cushion, especially in the rear. Rear wheel drive causes it to have a large transmission tunnel, making the middle seat quite uncomfortable.
2014 and on models do not get Intergral Active Steering which allows for steering of the rear wheels, which improves handling and makes it easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces. This was standard on the 520i and 528i until the 2013 facelift.
The E class does feel more premium inside. Leather used doesn't feel like leather, rather hard and "rubbery"
Specifications could be improved, as while BMW does have lots of tech in their models, many of these techs are not available on our local models, like blind spot monitoring, self parking and adaptive cruise control. Rear seats do not fold at all for some reason.
After sales is quite disappointing for a premium brand, you feel like it is a second rate dealer experience, where companies like Toyota still trump it. Absolutely pathetic warranty, which is shocking that for a premium brand, it is the shortest in the industry for 2 years only. BS+RI is a waste, as you are recommended to change the oil every 10000km or so for best performance, but BS+RI works only when the service light is on (where the service light is set at 15000 km for reasons only known to BMW Malaysia).
Rear camera should be made as standard, considering that it is a long car, and BMW does charge a whopping 5k for a camera.
Yes, I would recommend this car
Date Reviewed 30 May 2014
Ride & Handling
528i M Sport (2012)
Bought new, Owned for 2 Years
RON95, Mileage: 400 km/month
-Fuel Consumption is good
-Bulit quality is magnificent
-Handling is top notch
-Head-Up display is very useful
Fantastic fuel consumption. Well tuned and comfortable suspension setup. Pleasant looking interior.
Build quality leaves a lot to be desired. Cupholder and various other things all rattling, could be because of the diesel engine low rev vibration. Warranty relatively short. BSRI "free service" misleading when you're actually encouraged to service more often, so only every other service is free.
Note - my car is actually the pre-LCI model but could not find it on this site.
Please increase the warranty to at least four years.
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