I had to leave my car into the dealers today to get the armrest replaced under warranty due to a blemish in the leather. As a loaner they gave me a 2014 520d M Sport to drive about it with only 400 miles on the clock so thought I would share my thoughts with everyone.
I will be doing a comparison to my own F30 330d M Sport Plus in this review as both cars have a £42,000 new value.
I picked this up this morning and I have to say it is a very good looking car and was even more happy at seeing it when I was told on the phone I would be getting an X1.
It is a 2014 520d M Sport, it is not bottom of the range and has some extras such as Business Navigation, auto gearbox with steering wheel paddles and the optional 18 inch alloys.
The F10 does come with some more equipment as standard compared to the F30 such as Xenon headlights and heated seats.
Upon setting off down the motorway on my way to work in Belfast I thought this would be a good chance to begin reviewing the F10.
To start when you get into the car the interior feels well made and is generally a nice place to sit. It is larger than my F30 inside of course and in some ways too large for my needs as I previously owned the E60 generation 5 series and swapped it for the F30 3 series, although this is down to my personal preference and I am a guy of 23 so I don't need a car with bundles of space. I am impressed more so by BMW's entire car range now as the build quality is the same for the F10 and F30 albeit the F30 being wrapped up in a smaller package.
Upon starting the car I put it into drive and began to accelerate but the car did not move, after 60 seconds of working out what could be issue I realised the F10 is equipped with an electronic handbrake which took around 2 seconds to release when the button is pushed. This is a feature I found to be utterly pointless and a normal manual handbrake would have been more than capable of carrying out this function.
After setting off down the motorway I was pleased to find how refined the ride was in the F10 with very little cabin noise and no vibration from the road at all this was a pleasant change from the harder riding F30.
I tried to listen to the radio and realised it was on FM, okay no problem swap it over to DAB to get a clearer signal only to realise DAB is an optional extra which on a car this price I think should be included. Thought okay not a problem I will plug my iPhone into the USB slot in the centre console to get the iPod working. It didn't appear either so this was rather disappointing as Renault Clio's are coming with this stuff as standard.
Onto the sat nav. It is equipped with business sat nav which is basically the same sat nav as the phase 1 iDrive in the E60 and from coming from a car with professional nav it was somewhat a disappointment there is nothing wrong with it per se and it does its functions well it just has the feel that it isn't as good as what it could be and obviously is a marketing ploy by BMW to urge people to get the professional nav with the wider screen.
The sound system itself also leaves a lot to be desired with a lot of distortion when the radio is turned up and makes audio nearly unlistenable at high levels and as I am an avid audio fan this disappointed me and I will look forward to getting back into the my F30 to listen to the Harman Kardon system.
That is enough of slating the car back to the good stuff the fuel economy was top notch on the motorway returning a solid 48 mpg and cruising at 70 mph it performed with the best of them.
On the motorway journey the interior of the F10 is a comfortable place to sit and a nice place to be and I would not mind doing a long journey in this car. I was stuck in traffic in the centre of Belfast and the seats kept me relaxed albeit I really was missing my iPod.
I finally got into work and parked it up and caught myself taken sneaky glimpses at it all day and I just kept thinking it does look good.
I also noticed on the exhaust pipes they are coated in a matte paint rather than a bare metal look and thought that is a nice touch
On the return journey I have a mix of A & B roads so thought may as well see what this thing can do, in every day driving it is 100% and will not having you wanting for more power. But if you want to have a bit of fun or indeed overtake another vehicle the 2 litre engine does seem gutless and you really have to throttle the car in order to get anything from the engine which is disappointing, if you are cruising at a steady speed the 520 will not make a sound and you can barely hear the diesel engine.
The drive is suberb with the car feeling very planted with a vast amount of grip and you do feel like you are driving a much smaller car, I would be keen to have a drive in a F10 530d to compare. In an enthusiastic driving situation the 520 leaves you feeling let down as you have the handling and the ride but just not the performance to match and I did find myself frustrated with the lack of power especially coming from my F30 330d which is a hooligan in comparison as it takes all the abuse you throw at it and you then realised you have another two thousand revs to go before a gear change while it launches you into license losing speeds.
All in all I enjoyed the 520d M Sport and in summary I feel that it is not a car aimed an enthusiast or a driver who wishes to have fun in their car it is the ideal vehicle for someone who wants a quality cruiser which will transport them in comfort and style. I couldn't declare this car an all rounder as it just can perform when you wish to have fun and the handling and drive of the car is wasted when paired with the 2 litre diesel engine. I am glad I decided to buy the F30 over a 520 F10 due to the F30 being the better all rounder as it offers comfort albeit it not as much as the F10 but also can turn into an animal at the touch of a button.
The main vibe I got from the M Sport body styling is that it looks amazing but is all show and no go as the car has the looks of a performance car but just does not have the performance to match the looks and I believe the 520 would be better suited in SE trim for this reason. The 8 speed automatic gearbox is a brilliant gearbox but I feel the additional paddles on the steering wheel is a waste of money as it is a performance feature and this will never be a performance car and the typical buyer of the 520 will not be interested in a flappy paddle gearbox.
I have been left with a bitter taste in my mouth when I discovered the price of this vehicle as it does not offer the performance nor the optional equipment of a vehicle justifying this price tag and if you were considering purchasing this vehicle I believe you would be better looking elsewhere.
The F10 was a nice change for a day but I am missing my F30 and cannot wait until I am behind the wheel of it again.