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BMW 520i Sport: Executive decision

IT’S HARD to argue against the BMW 5 as the quintessential executive sedan. In fact, perhaps the only thing missing from its cache of C-suite goodies is a clip-on tie. It’s an exaggeration, of course, but it’s accurate to say that the 5 is the de facto poster boy for corporate titans.

Sure, there are higher numbers in the BMW portfolio, but the 5 continues to be the more realistic, (and, really, more reasonably priced) aspiration for those who seek to convey that they’ve arrived. What also distinguishes this vehicle is that it does not call attention to itself, but rather commands it naturally without having to resort to bells and whistles.

The variant I got a chance to test was the 520i Sport, which now bears a discounted price of P3.49 million (from P4.29 million). Yes, that’s a whole lot of savings that you can even buy a reasonable mass market car with.

Underneath the hood of this 5 is a 2.0-liter BMW TwinTurbo four-banger serving up 184hp and 290Nm. It’s mated to a smooth-shifting eight-speed auto with Steptronic. Suffice it to say that there’s a lot of performance you can extract from this engine. Executives do need to overtake on demand, you see. There’s nary a sniff of turbo lag to be found. And for the times you get bogged down in traffic, the 5 can get downright miserly through an automatic start-stop system.

Whether you choose the driver’s seat (which methinks is the best seat in the house because, well, it’s a Bimmer) or any of the passenger spaces, there is ample room for your extremities and for collecting your thoughts and memories of the journey. If you’ve ever been cooped up in a claustrophobia-inducing, headroom-deficient ride, you know what I mean.

Aside from being spacious, the cabin of the 5 is tastefully appointed. While the piano black surfaces only too readily show dust and fingerprints, engineers and designers deserve style points for the legible, intuitive controls — which includes grippy dials for the AC. There’s also a laudable measure of restraint in how technology complements the driving experience and not overwhelms it. The so-called BMW Live Cockpit Plus allows access and control to key functions via the now familiar rotary controller, along with the touchscreen and/or voice control. And while there’s a learning curve to be surmounted, it’s a lot easier to hurdle compared to the previous system.

But I digress. Learning every single thing to customize and control to your liking is gratifying. For instance, you can choose from (count ’em) 11 color schemes for the cabin lighting. Speaking of hues, the amber color the instrumentation takes at night is just signature BMW; it will bring tears to your eyes. And while the gauges and such are digital, they depict good-ol’-fashioned analog. Very tasteful, indeed.

The automatic (and very adequate) two-zone air-conditioning with extended contents should make short work of hottest of days. But just in case, there’s a nifty electric roller sunblind for the rear window, and mechanical roller sunblinds for the rear side windows. The driver and front passenger both benefit from electric seat adjustment — with a memory function for the driver. The system also gets Apple CarPlay, from where you can choose to blast music through the high-fidelity system.

A mix of highway and city driving (and remember that urban congestion is steadily going back to pre-pandemic levels) yielded at least eight kilometers per liter or better — not bad at all.

The Sport trim gets well-bolstered seats in Dakota leather, 19-inch V-spoke-type alloys with 245/40s in front and 275/35s in the back (all of which are also run-flats). Further good news (depending on your preference): the 5 still has the more normal interpretation of BMW’s kidney grille — unlike the polarizing “lungs” expected to creep into the lineup.

There’s a whole slew of safety features in the 5: air bags for the driver and front passenger (plus head and side bags), head air bags for the back, side impact protection, Isofix child seat mounting, anti-lock brakes, dynamic stability control, crash sensor, passive protection for pedestrians, automatic lock when driving away, and the aforementioned runflat tires with run-flat indicator.

On the outside, the BMW 520i Sport is fitted with LED headlamps, LED fog lights, park distance control in the front and rear, rear view camera, comfort access system, automated tailgate, and expanded exterior mirror package.

And because executives are also adept at sniffing out the best deals, BMW Philippines also features its now-standard five-year/200,000 warranty on the 5 Series.

So, if you’re ready for the effortless attention, and the trappings of success, then the 5 Series ought to be in your consideration set.

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