Car review – BMW 520e Touring

A new fleet favourite

The plug-in hybrid 520e Touring is bound to kick the 518d Touring from the Fleet throne as it can count on a more favourable tax treatment and more eco-credibility.

 

Re-tuned 530e

The 520e uses the same technical recipe as the 530e, consisting of a two-litre turbocharged petrol engine and an electric motor of 109hp and 265Nm. The difference between the two versions is purely a matter of bits and bytes, in that the petrol engine in the 520 has been reduced to 163hp and 300Nm, while the 530 has 184hp and 300Nm. 

The result is a system output of 204hp (150kW) and 350Nm, which is transmitted to the rear wheels through BMW’s excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox. All-wheel drive is not available, though.

 

Smooth operator

Accelerating from 0 to 100 takes 8.2 seconds, which is 2 full seconds slower than the 292hp 530e, but it’s still fast enough to actively participate in traffic. Only when you put the pedal to the metal do you notice that the powertrain sometimes has difficulties coping with the nearly 2 tonnes of empty weight. With a moderate driving style and normal traffic you don't really miss the extra power, though.

 

Recharge where you can

The battery is 12 kWh in size, as on the 530e, and enables the Touring to travel electrically for up to 51 kilometres. In practice, 40 kilometres is certainly feasible.

If you put the 520e on the charger whenever possible, as we did during our test week, you can achieve an average combined consumption of 3.2 litres of petrol and 11.6 kWh of electricity per 100 km driven. The battery can be charged at 3.7 kW. It takes 3.6 hours to fully top it up from empty.

The silence on board and the relatively soft suspension make you feel relaxed in the spacious interior. Still, at 430 litres under the luggage cover, the boot is a lot smaller than that of the non-plug-in hybrid 5 Series Touring. Fortunately, you can retract the cover, making it quite practical nonetheless.

This premium plug-in is not cheap, but its hefty purchase price is compensated for by low consumption and low taxes. The 520e Touring could be an interesting steppingstone towards full electric driving for those who are not ready to make the jump just yet.

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      + Comfort

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      + Tax advantage

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      + Cheaper than 530e

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      -Still high purchase price -Not with four-wheel drive