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2012 BMW 520d: My experience with the pre-owned car over 1.5 years

Overall, its been a pleasure to own and drive the car. It is the most powerful car that we have ever owned and ironically is also the most fuel efficient in the current garage.

BHPian Jagatvir recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

The BMW 530d just completed one and a half years of being in the garage I thought I'd share my experience of having owned the car.

Buying process and inspection:

Back in December 2022 I was lucky enough to pick up a very well maintained example of our 2012 BMW 530 d M Sport. The car had gone to the BMW dealership for each and every service in the last decade, so much so that even the tyres had been changed at the service center. While handing over the keys the owner told me the key fob battery seems to be low, please ensure to get it changed from the dealership only. That was enough to give an insight to the history of the car. I of course saw a video on YouTube and swapped the battery out myself.

In hindsight the decision to pay higher than market price for an old car has yielded dividends in the form of peace of mind over the past year and a half of ownership. Can't stress this enough that its always better to pay more upfront and get a clean vehicle in the first place. You would think you're saving up money if you're getting a steal deal but there is nothing like a cheap car. The odds are you'll probably end up spending more money, time and effort on the car over the years.

Post buying preventive maintenance

The car was taken to an independent workshop and the following work was done:

  • Transmission oil for the ZF 8 Speed Gearbox was changed
  • Engine Flush
  • Engine Oil
  • Oil Filter
  • Air Filter
  • Front Disc Pad
  • Brake Fluid
  • Engine Mounting LH & RH
  • Suspension overhaul including Front bush kit, tie rod & end set
  • Swapped out the old Run Flat tyres to Pirelli Cinturato P7.

After a few months I got a call from BMW dealership stating that there was a recall for the EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) cooler and I should visit the dealership as soon as possible. For a car that is more than a decade old its very reassuring to know that the company is still taking efforts to iron out the issues that have cropped up over time. The EGR cooler was replaced the same day and the bill came out to be almost 1 Lakh Rupees. Not a single penny was charged for this work.

Design

In terms of design language the F10 series seems to be more of a successor to the E39 series and the same has been taken forward to the next G30 generation.

The car still looks relevant today simply because every generation (up till G60 series) has seen an evolution of the same design language. For instance I captured this picture of three 5 series models, starting out with the my car with the LCI facelift F10 and the G30 at the back.

Even though these three cars are around 10 years apart but to the not so discerning eye, the silhouette seems pretty similar.

Mods done till now

The car is now running a Stage 1 remap from Quantum tuning UK. The difference a simple software flash can make is astonishing. It now makes a claimed 310 BHP and 650 NM of Torque. 

The HP figure is itself impressive for a four door family sedan but the torque at 650 NM is truly amazing. To put the Torque figure in perspective, the 530 d produces more Torque than many supercars like the Porsche 911 GT3RS (465 Nm), Audi R8 V10 (560Nm), Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato V10 (560 Nm).

The original BMW kidney grill has been swapped out with an aftermarket blacked out grill with the M Sport color combination. Initially wasn't too sure of the M sport colors on the grill but the look has grown over time and it definitely makes the car look fresh.

Other than one cosmetic mod and the ECU remap, the car is stock and has more than enough power to enjoy on the weekend drives.

In April we took the car on a roadtrip from Chandigarh to Jaipur and onwards to Jodhpur, considering that the road network in Rajasthan is generally very well maintained. A 1600 KM journey on a 12 year old BMW, (in the tone of Jeremy Clarkson) What could possibly go wrong... 

Before hitting the road got the spare tyre pumped up to the correct pressure and also made sure to get the wheel alignment done.

Started out the journey with smooth tarmac on the Ambala-Narnaul Expressway.

Driver POV

Even the roads which were apparently in the middle of nowhere were also very well maintained.

 

This was the longest trip we had done at a stretch with the 530d and the car performed superbly all-throughout the journey.

In Jaipur we set the location at a popular lunch spot and Google maps made us enter a lane which was supposedly meant for two wheelers only. There was so much of traffic in both directions that we had to navigate our way through extremely narrow lanes.  

After some time the inevitable happened and ended up scratching against a knee guard protruding from a Royal Enfield and the car now adorns a battle scar on the left passenger door.

The rest of the trip remained uneventful, here are a few pictures:

At a fuel stop

Posing in front of Ajit Bhawan

At RAAS Restaurant with the view of the majestic Mehrangarh Fort.

The return journey of 750 KM was done with only 3/4th Tank of Fuel, that means a realistic range of 1000 KM +.

An average speed of 81.5 KMPH and the fuel consumption was 15.2 KM/Lt.

After returning got the car polished back to its old glory.

Here is my list of positives and negatives for the vehicle:

POSITIVES

  1. The N57 6 cylinder engine is butter smooth and produces impressive power & torque figures
  2. ZF 8 Speed Gearbox is lightning quick and makes for a perfect match
  3. The fuel economy is impressive and I have got up-to 17KMpl with no efforts to conserve fuel-the fuel average is not very sensitive to throttle input, unlike modern turbo petrols
  4. The engine and gearbox both have proved themselves to be super reliable. Never issued a single issue/breakdown till date (touches wood).
  5. For a 12 year old car, it has aged very well and looks relevant even today
  6. The adaptable suspension is the best of both world that gives the flexibility to chose the ride stiffness while not bothering with the issues that plague air suspension(case in point Audi A6)

NEGATIVES

  1. Terrible space management, the rear legroom is cramped
  2. Interior parts quality: I have broken the AC vents while trying to fix a phone holder
  3. Meaty rear tyres measuring 275/40/R18 are hard to source and expensive

There is a reason why used N57 engine and ZF 8 Speed gearbox are now a popular engine swap option for old Land Rover Defenders. See this video.

Overall, its been a pleasure to own and drive the car. It is the most powerful car that we have ever owned and ironically is also the most fuel efficient in the current garage. I have driven it for only 8000 KM but not a single warning light has ever come up on the dashboard which is pretty rare considering how infamous the BMW warning chime is on social media.

So I hope this post inspires you to be on the look out and take the plunge as and when you find that unicorn example of a car you aspire to own.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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