I’m sure some readers have been curious, so here’s a 2-year review after my first post from two years ago.
In summary, the BMW F10 520d is one of the best car I’ve driven on a daily basis. It is surely not as refined as my previous petrol inline-6 BMW 523i, but I realise that I spend most of the time talking with passengers, or pushing the car through traffic; I hardly pay attention to the diesel rattle most of the time. The car is incredibly quiet once brought up to speeds above 50 kph.
- Vehicle: BMW 520d y.o.m. 2013 (F10)
- Ownership: Apr 2014 to present
- Mileage done: ~27,000 kms (~13,000 kms/year)
- Breakdowns or faults: None
- Servicing costs: ~$240 every 8,000 kms
- Other repairs: ~$380 for one rear tyre replacement (more on this later)
- Average FC: 12.5km/L, 80%/20% city/hway (see full log at Fuelly)
At times I do wonder if it would have been better if I had gotten a 530d wagon for the extra space and refinement of an inline-6 diesel, but the increase in road tax may not make sense. That said, I haven’t had a chance to drive this car up north — I am sure it would have been stellar as the car is best enjoyed on the highway, cruising at 110kph with the engine turning over well under 2,000 rpm.
I’ve also tested the VW Touran TDI before it got pulled from the markets due to dieselgate, and it was incredibly quiet in the cabin, too.
Savings can be substantial
I did some math, comparing my previous ride (BMW F10 523i). The savings from the increase in fuel economy and reduction in fuel costs are substantial enough to pay for the insurance costs — around $1,600/year in savings even after deducting the increase in road tax ($210/yr more for the diesel).
Even if you make a comparison against the current 2-litre petrol BMW 520i with a $800 increase in road tax, the diesel still brings around $1,000/yr in savings. The more miles you do, the more you will save.
Diesel particulate filter woes
I’ve read in forums that people worry about the diesel particulate filter (DPF). After two years of ownership and driving relatively short trips to and from work, I would say the DPF is nothing to worry about. We have good quality (Euro V) diesel here, and the car is intelligent enough to regenerate the DPF when it needs to. You can actually feel the DPF regeneration once you are more attuned to your car — the exhaust note changes.
It is more important to use the correct engine oil for your engine as some engine oils may not be DPF friendly. When in doubt, buy OE oils. Modern Euro-V compliant BMW diesels require BMW LL-04 approved oils.
I drive through Upper Bukit Timah Road pretty often and the MRT (DTL) construction tends to be unfriendly to tyres. I’ve had several nails in my tyres, and one of them unfortunately hit a spot where it would not patch well so I had to replace one rear tyre (275/40 R18) with the same Pirelli P7 run-flat tyre costing a whopping $380.
My current set of tyres are the originals that came with the car (18″ staggered). They seem to be due for a replacement soon having done 30,000 kms to date. I will be swapping them out for a set of M-sport 19″ non-staggered (245/40 R19) later this year. I feel there’s no need for staggered wheels on this car as it already understeers a bit. Replacing and driving those big heavy rear tyres are simply a waste of money and fuel.
It seems that BMW diesel parts are getting more and more readily available as the BMW 2-series Grand Tourer diesel takes on popularity. The engine oil filter was a tad expensive, but is not a significant jump from the price of a petrol equivalent. The plus is that diesels have no spark plugs, so spark or or expensive ignition coils to worry about.
However, I do not following the servicing interval prescribed by the car computer or dealer (15K or 25K km if yours is a parallel import). I change the oil changed 8,000 kms.
Diesels run cooler, especially at idle
Contrary to some old folks tale, it is also interesting to note that diesel engines run cooler, especially at idle. My engine oil is maintained at around 100 degrees C whilst petrol BMWs are kept at 110 degrees C.
There’s no need to warm up the engine by idling a diesel because it will not warm up. In fact, there is no need to warm up all modern cars by idling, it especially in Singapore; simply drive the car and the load on the engine will warm the car up quickly. Once again, it is more important to use the correct engine oil so your entire engine gets the lubrication it needs from the get-go.
Short note about improvement in suspension of the BMW F10 in later years
One thing for certain is a marked improvement of the 2013 520d suspension over the 2011 523i. Both cars are the same model (F10) but the 2013 feels more planted and less like a boat when driven at speed. I have verified with my VIN that my vehicle does not have the optional M-sport suspension even though it is fully fitted with M-sport options from factory. I believe BMW fixed the suspension issues, and driving my friend’s 520i (2014) LCI model felt similar to the 2013.
I believe we will continue to see more and more diesel cars in Singapore although turbocharged petrol engines are also getting more efficient; diesel has higher energy density, so it will likely still lead the way in fuel efficiency. My car is nearing the end of its product life cycle and a new model (codenamed G30) will get the new modular B-series engines already found in a few newer BMWs like the 216d Grand Tourer. We can see how each generation becomes more efficient, powerful and refined just by following at the progress of one manufacturer. I am sure the same applies for the other brands.