2012 BMW 528i (N20): Short Take

It's hard to believe that the F10 platform has been on the road since 2010. Always known as the mid sized executive that steers the best, the F10 has been met with a bit of a mixed reaction to journos worldwide. In Europe, it's still the exec to get in its class. In America however, people have been saying it's gone soft. The ever overused word "dynamic" was lacking according to them. With my curiosity needing some answers, I went out and drove this 528i with the turbo 4. Two birds with one stone then. Is the N20 the only engine you'll need and, without the Dynamic Damper Control and Adaptive Drive, does the F10 still deliver?


Before I begin, i was really hoping I armed myself with a better camera. With an iPhone on hand, I pressed on.

Exterior: 8/10

This particular 528i has one of the nicest combinations I've seen. In a sea of gray, silver and black, Tasman is a welcome change from the usual F10's I come across. Also has one of the rims I prefer for the F10. 18's are a sweet spot for me and this model. The F10's styling in general won't offend people initially like the E60. No angry eyelashes. No acute angles. It's soft edges and smooth surfaces. If anything, it sort of tries to be an E39. Understated but likable nonetheless. We're sort of back in the 90's theme of BMW's being sausages cut in different lengths. Look at the lineup now and look at the E36, E39 and E38 and you'll know what I mean. On that note though, I'd still rate the E60's styling higher on the basis that BMW gambled so much on its looks and laughed on the way to the bank

Interior: 7/10


Classic BMW layout. A partly digital version of BMW's spartan yet useful gauges. As someone who owns an E39, it feels like home albeit with a more modern touch. Everything still feels familiar and everything is exactly where you know it will be. Also, typical German soft touch materials and finally has cupholders than can hold a drink.

So, why just 7?

This wheel is the culprit. No, BMW. This three spoke wheel isn't your best work. Thankfully, the sport wheel is miles better.


Powertrain: 9/10

I was initially skeptical. Growing up, a certain mantra was stuck in my head. If it's got less than six cylinders, it's not a true BMW. Touring cars aside, say you drive a 316i or a 518i and you'll be judged as being a badge snob. BMW's easily fit sixes in and that's what you put in your non M Bimmer. Times have changed though. Their four pot diesels are absolute crackers and the N20 is the first non M four pot petrol I'd have. It doesn't sing like the trademark six but for a turbo four to propel something weighing about 1700 kilograms with no shortness of breath is a pretty good motor. Slight hint of lag but just keeps on the torque band all the way. It's never going to put you in a dangerous overtaking situation. Nevermind the 245 horses it has. The highlight is 350Nm of torque.


Of course the 535i would sound better but, as a daily proposition, you'll be confident with it.

Transmission: 9/10


The ZF is a gem. Smooth, seamless and shift shock free. A little hunting in comfort for obvious reasons but the flexibility of the transmission is amazing from comfort to sport even when not manually overriding the system. Downshifting is a treat too. No lunge at all. Is there an auto blip on these things?

Handling: 8.5/10


It will still put a grin on your face even without the Dynamic Damper Control or Adaptive Drive. Actually, save yourselves a couple of dollars and just go for the passive suspension. If you really need a sporty drive then just order the passive M Sport suspension. You'll feel more of the road and that's what makes a 5er a 5er. Rolls significantly less than my E39 too. Also, before you hate on the Electronic Power Steering, try it first. It was actually a good steer. For comparison basis, the system on Mercs feel way too light. The system on the BMW has a bit more weight in them. It's no hydraulic system but at least it puts in effort for feel. As for brakes, the ABS on BMW's aren't overly reactive and that's a good thing. Threshold braking feels much more satisfying with these because the ABS doesn't just take control away from you. Nice to know the car trusts you more than your potential passengers. Compared to my E39, the limits are just way higher.


The 5 Series is still a very good steer and tells the world there's no shame in getting a four cylinder petrol BMW anymore. Just make sure its this N20.


Total: 41.5/50

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