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2024 BMW 520i review (G60)

A vigilant companion whether you’re driving Dublin to Derry or Darlinghurst to Dubbo.

Whenever I thought about Ireland, I envisioned a land of rolling green hills, coastlines adorned with cliffs and castles, rainbows arching over pots of gold. As it turns out, it's indeed very green, and the hills are abundant. The scenery is stunning, but let's be honest, it's a bit cold, and it rains a lot. Heading to the north for a friend's wedding, I was eternally grateful to be in a BMW 520i and not some soulless hire car.

Now, hire cars aren't inherently bad. After all, we all know they're the fastest cars on the planet.

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But, in my experience and budget, they don't offer the comfort and luxury that the BMW 520i does. So, when the chance arose to drive the brand new BMW 520i in Ireland, I grabbed it with both hands.

Having never been to Ireland before, I harbored dreams of perfect, autobahn-like roads, impeccably maintained amidst the rolling green hills.

Reality, however, was quite different. The roads were much like Australia's – generally good, but peppered with potholes and patchy repairs.

What's the 2024 BMW 520i like to drive?

The 520i is the only petrol variant in the 5 Series lineup and in Australia it starts from $125,656 driveaway (in Sydney) but can optioned well and truley north of that figure. BMW are aiming to have 50% of sales coming in the form of EV's by 2030, but for for someone traveling in a foreign country, this petrol variant was ideal.

There were no concerns about charging availability or reliability and no extended stop times – the kinds of things you definitely don't want on a short holiday.

2024 BMW 520i driving

But, before anyone jumps to conclusions about BMW not caring for the planet, hold your horses. The 520i is remarkably frugal. Our entire week-long trip across Ireland was accomplished on a single tank of petrol.

That's Dublin to Northern Ireland, sightseeing day trips, and back again.

And it wasn't just economical, but comfortable too. Our 520i was decked out with the M Sport package, which means it came with all the cosmetic goodies and some hardware upgrades.

The adaptive suspension, part of the M Sport package, deserves special mention. It adapts to road conditions in real-time, ensuring a smooth and composed ride regardless of the surface. This was particularly noticeable on the less-than-perfect sections of Irish roads, where the 520i handled imperfections easily.

Overall, the suspension setup strikes an excellent balance between comfort and sporty handling, making the 520i enjoyable to drive on both twisty country roads and long motorway stretches.

BMW 520i parked at night

Powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, producing 152kW, there are more powerful vehicles around, however in practice it is more than adequate for most driving situations. Over stretches of highway driving there was always power for overtaking and merging onto motorways.

The eight-speed automatic transmission delivers sharp but seamless shifts, which is what you want in a cruiser like this.

What's it like inside the BMW 520i?

Inside, the 2024 BMW 520i is a cocoon of luxury and modernity. Our 520i review vehicle was optioned with the Comfort Package which adds $4,385 to the price here in Australia. That means the seats are electrically adjustable, allowing you to find the perfect driving position effortlessly. The front seats are also heated, which was a blessing on those chilly Irish mornings. And the perforated leather upholstery adds a touch of class and comfort that you'd expect from a car in this segment.

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Dominating the dashboard are two large screens, that are blended into one flowing facia. The first is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that provides all the necessary driving information in a clear, customisable format. The second is a central 14.9-inch infotainment screen that houses BMW's latest iDrive system.

The software is intuitive and responsive, with crisp graphics and a logical menu structure. It supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone integration.

BMW's iDrive 8.5 system includes a host of features, such as navigation, DAB+ radio and various vehicle settings. The voice control is another highlight, allowing you to operate many functions without taking your hands off the wheel.

Being emblazoned with the M Sport badging means that this BMW 520i reviewed received a premium audio upgrade in the form of a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, which was fantastic.

How safe is the BMW 520i?

The 520i comes equipped with multiple airbags, including front, side, and curtain airbags, to protect occupants in the event of a collision.

Additionally, the BMW 520i comes with an array of driver assistance technologies:

  • Adaptive cruise control: Maintains a set distance from the vehicle ahead, adjusting your speed as necessary.
  • Lane departure warning: Alerts you if you unintentionally drift out of your lane.
  • Blind spot monitoring: Warns you of vehicles in your blind spots.
  • Forward collision warning: Alerts you to potential collisions with vehicles or pedestrians ahead.
  • Automatic emergency braking: Applies the brakes automatically to avoid or mitigate a collision.
  • Parking assist: Helps you park by steering the car into tight spaces while you control the accelerator and brake.

To provide all of the features above requires a multitude of sensors and smarts.

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Now, this is generally a wonderful thing, until you encounter Dublin's notoriously snug parking garages. These places are more cramped than a tin of sardines, and driving a longer vehicle like the 520i through them is a bit like threading a needle with a sausage.

As I rounded a corner, heading to one of two boom gate lanes to exit, the 520i stopped dead in its tracks. It refused to budge – forward or backward. Hopping out to inspect, I saw that, technically, I could make the turn with the smallest of gaps, but the BMW wasn't having it.

The sensors screamed in protest, adamant that I was about to orchestrate a fender bender.

Thankfully, the Irish are probably the friendliest people on earth. And, probably thankfully, I couldn't quite understand what they were muttering. The car behind me had to switch lanes, allowing me to slowly extricate myself and attempt the next lane.

In hindsight, perhaps this is a good thing. The 520i's refusal to navigate that tight spot kept its panels straight and pristine. But honestly, there are times when you wish your car had a few less brains and was a bit more game.

What is the boot like in the BMW 520i?

One of the practical aspects of the BMW 520i is its boot space. For a midsize luxury sedan, the boot is impressively spacious.

We managed to fit two full-sized suitcases along with overnight bags without any trouble – a real plus for road tripping.

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Compared to competitors in this segment, the 520i holds its own, offering ample luggage space without compromising on style or comfort.

2024 BMW 520i Review: The verdict

You don't see many sedans on the road now, with families opting for larger, higher-riding SUVs. But the BMW 520i does a good job of blending luxury, performance, and practicality.

Whether you're navigating the scenic roads of Australia or the busy streets of Dublin, the 520i isn't going to have a problem.

So, if you're in the market for a midsize luxury sedan that offers a perfect blend of comfort, technology, and efficiency, the BMW 520i should be at the top of your list. It's a car that not only got us to our destination safely, comfortably and frugally, but it genuinely meets a lot of expectations.

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Alex Jeffs is the senior publisher for personal, car and business finance at Finder. He has been building websites since he was 14 years old and has tested cars everywhere from race tracks to Oodnadatta. See full bio

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