BMW 518d: A new toy for the Beemer Boys

The entry-level BMW 518d is priced to attract a new cohort of loyal customers, and though its output has been lowered, the 5 Series is still top of its class

Connect 5: The BMW 518d’s ConnectDrive system gives full access to the internet for music, maps and apps

Make: BMW

Model: 5-Series

Year: 2014

Fuel: Diesel

Date Reviewed: March 11, 2014

Wed, Mar 12, 2014, 01:00

   

Years ago it was the Men in Mercs (and often in mohair suits) who held the power and the purse strings. In the UK in the 1990s, it was Mondeo Man who got Blair elected. Today in Ireland, it’s the Beemer Boys who seem to have ridden out the recession and are hoping to rise on the back of any economic recovery.

The BMW 5 Series has become the standard-issue corporate saloon for Irish executives, particularly those south Dublin middle managers who feel they deserve a little premium prestige on their driveways.

It was also the car that benefited from a bit of downsizing at boardroom level, as those used to cruising in the likes of the Mercedes S-Class or BMW 7 Series felt they would do their bit of slumming by moving down a grade.

Surely no one could claim they weren’t doing their bit after swapping the opulence of S-Class for the positively puritanical 5 Series?

There was a time when BMW’s 5 Series was strictly for the most senior of managers, but the car came of age around 2008, ironically just as the recession set in.

BMW was focused on reducing emissions at a time when our political leaders thought CO2 was something you found in bottled water.

As a result, when in July 2008 we moved to emissions-based tax on cars, BMW reaped the rewards of lower tax rates on its cars, both in terms of sticker prices and the annual stipend to the local authorities. Suddenly a 5 Series actually made financial sense, at least for some.

There were months when the 5 Series was actually the best-selling model on the Irish market; this at a time when the economy was collapsing around us. Imagine, as I’m sure many of the BMW executives have done on wet Mondays in March, what it might have been like if car sales had continued at 120,000-plus. The 5 Series could have become a more common sight than the Ford Fiesta on Irish roads.

But enough of the what-ifs. The fact remains that the 5 Series has long been the best of the premium saloons in terms of driving dynamics and agility.


Minor facelift
Now we come to the 518d entry-level model. With the introduction of a minor facelift BMW also launched the lowest-powered 5 Series on the market.

Don’t be confused by the numerals, for BMW long ago gave up on listing the engine size in the name. As with Mercedes, the numbers bear only a rather arbitrary relationship to the output of the car.

So the 518d is powered by the same 2-litre diesel as the 520d, but it has been detuned to 143bhp, a drop of 41bhp. That’s significant enough to raise some eyebrows and it’s reflected in a rather sedate 0-100km/h acceleration of 10 seconds. There are smaller superminis that pack more pace.

The benefits in terms of fuel economy are not that evident, either, because the official figures for the 518d and 520d are largely identical.

The big difference is in the price, with the 518d SE starting at €43,380 and the 520d SE at €45,910. And therefore the question is: do you lose a lot in saving €2,530?