The best BMW

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By now our good opinion of BMW cars must be apparent to regular readers of MOTOR SPORT; indeed, some of them who are not aware that this country is now part of Europe write us letters suggesting that our approval of the Munich/Dingolfing products verges on the unpatriotic. So I do not intend to devote overmuch space to the 528 I have been driving for an appreciable mileage, although I would suggest that it is the best of the range for the majority of discerning drivers able to afford a fast, well-behaved saloon of this price (£4,699).

Having had experience over some 28,000 miles of a BMW 520i it was interesting to compare the two cars. The handling, quality, compact spaciousness, and performance of the 2-litre fuel-injection 4-cylinder model I have oft-times praised, together with its nice gear-change and powerful brakes. It has also proved notably trouble-free. The only criticism that can be levelled at it is the somewhat high noise-level at Motorway speeds, when I crave the quieter running of the BMW 2500 I used to run. The 528 reverts to this silent, smooth running and, by reason of the increased litreage of its six-cylinder 2,788 c.c. engine, it possesses very notable performance (0 to 60 m.p.h. in just over nine seconds, with a top pace of 122 m.p.h.). The 528 BMW has also the merit of all-round 10.7 in. disc brakes, and wider tyres than smaller-engined cars in the Series-5 range (195-14 against 175-14). They were Continentals on the test car. It has velour-covered seats, the driver’s adjustable for height as well as rake, a tachometer, a rear-seat central arm-rest, BMW’s excellent powersteering, a heated rear window, a clock, and more powerful headlamps. These are refinements not incorporated, naturally, in the £3,299 1.8-litre “economy” 518 BMW. The bigger-engined six-cylinder car uses revised suspension, with front and rear torsion bars, and an up-rated alternator. Its gearbox ratios are slightly lower than those of the 518 on 1st, 2nd and 3rd, but it pulls a higher (3.64 to 1) top gear. The steering column is adjustable and the fuel tank holds 15.4 gallons instead of 12.3 gallons, giving a range from full to fuel-light-on of 350 miles. Whereas the 518 is said to give better than 30 m.p.g. if driven with reasonable circumspection and I have frequently commented on the excellent fuel economy of the Editorial 520i, the 528 is also a surprisingly economical proposition. In some very mixed motoring covering Motorway cruising, town work, cold starts and hurried normal-road driving I recorded 24.9 m.p.g. of 4-star petrol. The 528 used no oil in 1,310 miles. This is very commendable, from a 165 (DIN) b.h.p. engine which will pull smoothly away from below the town speedlimit in top gear if the driver is feeling lazy, yet, if the gears are used, will out-drag the average sports car. The 528’s hidden fuel-filler can be locked and although its gearbox is larger than that of a 520 I found that this does not encroach on front-compartment leg-room; indeed, that useful stowage well behind the gear lever is slightly more shallow. The engine of the 528 has two Solex INAT 35/40 carburetters, the automatic choke of which did not give quite the instantaneous cold-start I have come to appreciate from the 520i’s fuel injection. Dimensionally all the Series-5 cars are identical externally and possess the same well-contrived instrumentation and controls, and impart the same feeling of quality and dignity. The test 528, a bright yellow example, even had the same notchiness of handbrake release I have experienced on other models; it has useful map-holders on the front doors that I do not have on the 520i. In the luxury-saloon-car range the 528 is surely the hest BMW yet?—W.B.