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Thread: Rental Car Review: 2022 or 2023(?) BMW 520d or 523d(?)

  1. #1
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    Rental Car Review: 2022 or 2023(?) BMW 520d or 523d(?)

    TLDR Version: Great.

    Rented from Sixt at Brussels Airport, Belgium. Needed to drive to a hotel 40 min south of Graspop, then to commute to Graspop Metal Festival everyday for 4 days (40 mins each way, setting out around 11am-noon and returning to the hotel at around 1-2am). Had to carry 2 (most of the time) to 3 (only for 1 day) people and random festival stuff. So I wanted something comfortable and relaxing but with a bit of pep. I had originally booked a 3-series Touring or equivalent, the very pleasant and aesthetically pleasing lady at Sixt said she didn't have one but asked if we would settle for a Nissan Qashqai. My mate and I smiled and politely said "Not really". So she upgraded us to this (relative) beauty.

    Engine and transmission: BMW diesel engine, hard to tell if a 520d or 523d. We didn't bother checking. As usual, a bit clattery on startup and at a stop, but NVH kept to a minimum otherwise. Great torque especially for the size and weight. More than enough to enable some fun for 2-3 people even with random festival clothes and crap in the back. Would have been fine if 4-up with luggage. Probably a reason they make great minicabs? Everything also probably helped by the rims not being some ridiculous size just for looks (see: 2022 BMW 3-series rental)?

    Steering and Handling: Pretty good with pretty decent weight and so on. I thought the feedback was better than the 3 that I'd rented in the UK in late 2022. I think it could be because the tyres were Eagle F1s and as the rims were not some ridiculous size. Firm and planted in all modes. Comfort was fine 99% of the time, but frankly Sport was fine and better for everything so I left it in that or Active most of the time. More than enough performance for everything. Overall, smooth, and fast and powerful enough. Like a hippo or a ninja. Car is only slightly bigger than the 3-series and feels nimble yet solid, yet a cut above. I will seriously consider Eagle F1s for my next set of tyres.

    Interior: Great. As I have said before, BMW have really improved their interiors to the extent that they now match or better those from mid-2010 Audis (this is not a backhanded compliment). Again, full Apple Carplay worked fine on the large screens and made life relatively easy. Same point about how I couldn't use Android Auto (which I would have preferred) as BMW requires that it use the Wifi connection, as when I set off my Android was set up to tether to my iphone's local sim. So my mate just plugged in his phone and used Carplay on it instead, also he controlled everything so no need to Hey Google or whatever. Sound quality also decent overall for this class of car. Again no sunroof which was fine. Very nice leather seats, good steering wheel, comfortable yet sporty enough for bombing around highways or B-Roads in etc. Plastics and leather typically high-quality 5-series. Almost no wind noise.

    The only real wrinkle was that we spent 15 minutes by the side of the car park exit trying to change the computer language to English and open the centre console. In our defence, this was after we had gotten off our Qatar flight, which involved a 2am-4am HK time Doha transit, and my having worked (in Economy Class) for 80% of both flights where I finally sent off something urgent over the Black Sea using in-flight wifi (with some panicky moments near the end as the wifi on the leg to Doha was great, but was quite spotty on the leg from Doha). It was also after we had spent 60 minutes in the immigration queue at Brussels. Which, BTW, is insane given that this is the capital of the EU! Not only that, but it took us nearly an hour to get past immigration when LEAVING Brussels and we had to run to the gate afterward as we nearly missed our flight??!!

    Practicality: Good. Side cubbies everywhere and tons of space for clothes changes, snacks, drinks, etc. It didn't have the special headlights turning with steering etc. Good sized boot fit all of our luggage (I think we had 2 check-ins and 2 carry-ons, also 1-2 backpacks) with lots of room to spare. Again, didn't feel too big around town or anywhere.

    Looks: Black. Rims a bit smallish for the looks but I think that helped everything else.
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    BONUS PICS: Of various tractors from some Tractor Show/Convention at the random hotel that I'd booked (since everything nearer was closer by the time I booked it). The owners and their wives did seem a bit taken aback when 2 Asian dudes in metal outfits rocked up to the (very good) hotel breakfast the next morning.2023.6 BMW-1.jpg2023.6 BMW-2.jpg2023.6 BMW-3.jpg

    Other stuff: Excellent for what I needed.

    Verdict: A as an exec car for getting to places in comfort. A- (for its category) if you prize enthusiasm or excitement. It really does feel a class above the 3-series, as it should.

  2. #2
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    I'm just going to tag along in this thread because I rented a 5 series recently but don't have too much to say about it.

    I rented a 530i for a few days in August for our wedding in New York. We rented from Sixt at Newark airport, we drove between South Orange, New Jersey, and the hotel and venue which were about an hour and a half north in New York.

    The name 530i: A scam! I reserved a 2 series which I knew had a 2.0l turbo four cylinder. When I checked in it gave me a 3 series also with a 2.0l turbo four. When I got there they said they didn't have any and were 'upgrading' me to a 530i. I don't know current BMW models, so I was like sounds fine the 3 liter straight six will be fun. Wrong! It's the same 2.0 turbo four cylinder, just in a heavier car.

    Android Auto/Wireless Charger: I'm pretty sure mine worked with bluetooth? I don't recall having to plug it in or do anything with wifi to get the android auto working. The little wireless charger would have been cool if my phone fit into it, I've just got a Galaxy S23 which I think is not that unusual a phone.

    Gauges: Seemed very busy, I didn't really love the heads up display but it was easier to see speed and revs at a glance. It seemed like a mess of screens, with google maps running you've got it showing up on the infotainment screen, in the middle of the gauge cluster, and the next turn showing up on the heads up display. I thought the digital tach was too weird shaped and not enough contrast between the current engine speed and the static parts of the tach, not super easy to just look at and see what the revs are.

    (I am currently driving a 2014 Hyundai Accent and a 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 1000, both of which have straightforward tachs with physical needles, so that's where I'm coming from!)


    Overall though nice for a rental car. Wife was happy with having a nice interior and lots of space for the drive up to the venue, we had lots of people ask us where we were able to rent a BMW.

  3. #3
    Junior Potato
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    These hipponinja cars seem mighty impressive.

  4. #4
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    Totally forgot to attach my photo! I'm going to try now, but I think I've struggled with posting images recently.

    Edit: Seems like that worked! We did two weddings, our main one was in Portland where we live, and then we did a smaller lunch time thing in New York for my wife's family that is on the east coast. In both cases she spent a few hours doing hair and makeup while I got to relax a bit. In Portland I took our dog for a walk and took a nap, in New York I got breakfast with my parents then did a little back roads driving around the venue!

    20230827_103355.jpg 20230827_103341.jpg
    Last edited by retsmah; October 28th, 2023 at 06:37 PM.

  5. #5
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    Brah, what a smooth, fast, and powerful car!!

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