Yes the hype is true, BMW is really the ultimate driving machine. Behind the wheel the car is a cracker with everything just to hand, intuitive as the brochure would say, and the performance in terms of acceleration, torque and MPG is astoundingly good bearing in mid this is only 2.0L engine in such a big car. Every last ounce has been wrung out of the engine and it makes me wonder just why you would need a bigger beast...yes i too subscribe to the "if your gonna have one have a big un" philosophy but thats just not necessary here.
My previous car was a MB E220CDI Avantgarde which was sound, solid and classy with the ring of "old money" about it, so to swap to this Beemer felt like a move over to the brashness of new money, but I needn't have worried. The drivers experience in the BMW is much better except in the snow when you simply get stuck even with the faintest dusting on the road the handling becomes very twitchy. That hair triggeresque back end swing really can catch you out.
Go get one but dont use it in the snow!
I have had my 520d se auto for about a week now, from new.
You may have read my review for the 318i se and I decided to get the bigger one.
It is a real pleasure to drive. Its steer positively and lightly, the engine has enough power, but I can understand why most buy the 530d, it is comfortable, and now I can get 2 cases in the boot, which I never could with the 3 series.
Current novelties are the non-key, which is a fob that you put in a slot and then push the start button. This also has the open and close function, and there is also an emergency key buried inside. I like not having the poke of a conventional key in my pocket. There is a rechargeable battery inside the key.
The other funny thing about the 5 series is the I drive. The guy who delivered it to me could not explain how it worked, so with the aid of the manual and some spare time, I have more or less sorted it out. It works like windows, a bit with drop down menus to customise your driving needs. The on board computer shows more functions than the 3 series did simultaneously, and I have not had to do so much flipping from function to function. The radio and CD player are of good quality, but real music heads will buy the autochanger for the cd. There is an input for auxillary audio, so you could forget CD's altogether, and just plug your mp3 player in.
Driving position is good, although I wish I could get the seat a bit higher. Basic cloth covered seats are comfortable but firm. I have not needed to adjust the steering wheel. Multifunction buttons on steering wheel are good, and take away some fiddling with the I drive.
Fuel consumption has been as expected, and so far with town driving in London, I am doing more than 35 to the gallon. It has a 70 liter tank, so take plenty of money with you. The boot is big, and as it has no spare wheel (runflats), the space is cleverly given over to compartments for bits and pieces.
It has very clever front and rear park distance sensors, and so far these have been critical to knowing what is going on. This car is bigger than some parking spaces.
So far, this car has exceeded all my expectations, and I will update in a few months.
Im coming up for 12 months now with this car. I cant really fault it. Althought ive only done about 20,000 it still feels like new. I would say that the seats dont get much better. Most of the time its not a huge problem but after some long journeys they can be uncomfortable. I would add that ive got the standard seats and a leather option might solve this problem. The aircon coped with the hottest days this summer. Ive had some cars where the aircon wasnt up to it. Not so here. It comfortably holds five and there is a enough power to drive when completely full. I know all the reviews say the same thing but I cant really fault this car. It is the gold standard in its class and deserves to be.