Wednesday 22 January 2014

Auto: BMW 520iA Review feat. Tesla Model S

How is the BMW 520iA ?
Image from Locky's English Playground

This BMW 520iA belongs to the F10 model (saloon), for 'A' possibly stands for 'Asia' or 'Automatic'. It has a top speed of 233km/h (145mph), 0-100km/h (0-62mph) in 7.9 seconds, maximum torque 270 Nm (199 lb-ft) at 1/min @ 1250-4500 rpm. It may not have a sports car's specification, but it has a quite a sporty look.

Image from BMW Hong Kong

The Pros
The cool-looking head
Image from Locky's English Playground
This is a good-looking sedan. It's got the wide and massive head with a well-balanced proportion of grill and headlights. The bumper blends in perfectly to form part of the head. Signature really, but the more "muscle" version of its signature.

Clean engine
Image from Locky's English Playground
Comparatively, this car has a lot more power and acceleration, better than the old Mercedes Benz C180K and E350 I have driven, then again, it is not a fair fight considering the age difference between the cars.

Side view of the interior
Image from Locky's English Playground
Inside the car, it is surprisingly more quiet than I would have expected from a petrol vehicle. The engine noise and the vibration are still audible if you drive at 60mph but usually, the noise is less loud than the sound coming through the windows.

Rear camera
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There is a rear camera which switches on automatically on reverse gear. It has guidelines to assist the drivers in parking, which is a nice feature.

Back seats
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This is a big car, despite the presence of the usual annoying centre console in the middle back row seat, the rest of the seats are largely comfortable.

Trunk, 14 cubic feet of space
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The trunk is alright. My baby girl has a "monster pram" from MotherCare but I can fit it into the trunk just nice after folding it up.

Image from Locky's English Playground
Last but not least, there is a small sunroof for ventilation purposes.

The Cons

Driver's seats
Image from Locky's English Playground

Buttons, loads of buttons. This could just be my complaints, but brands as famous as BWM produces intelligent cars such as this series 5 should not have so many buttons!! Otherwise, it becomes really cumbersome to operate, metaphorically.

Can you see 2 'P's?
Image from Locky's English Playground

The operation is really tricky even for a IT guy like me. So many buttons to remember, each button does just one thing. Want to start the car? You don't need a key, just step on the brake, pull the P handbrake button, then shift the gear stick from P to D, then release the foot brake pedal, then onto the gas pedal and the car will move. If I never told you that this is an automatic, you'll think that this is manual. I'm not sure if this is only BMW but the Mercedes Benz automatic has fewer steps to get the car moving and of course, parking and reversing.

Start Stop Engine and ECO mode button
Image from Locky's English Playground

The BMW has a smart ECO mode which is on by default, if you don't like it, you need to manually switch it off every single time. It's a button attached to the car start / stop button, so make sure you don't press the wrong one or you'll make the front page on the newspaper the next day.

Why do you want to off the ECO mode? BMW claims that it saves you miles with its innovative "auto-off-engine" functionality. Whenever your car comes to a stop for more than 5 seconds, your engine goes off. If you step on the gas pedal again, the engine revives and your car drives. Amazing!

Sounds amazing, but when the car restarts, your car literally trembles, it's really uncomfortable. Because imagine you are in a traffic jam and your car stops, trembles, stops, trembled... you will probably want to off this ECO function too. Wanna off it, okay, remember to do it every single time.

The BMW is too intelligent to remember your settings, so you have to remember to do it yourself.

If you forget the steps and the buttons, you'll end up like me, once drove the car backward when everyone had an leg out of the car, once drove the car forward when I was supposed to stop the car, and once my dad stopped the engine on the road while driving.

Button to unlock trunk
Image from Locky's English Playground

Wanna open the boot? You need to open the door at the driver's seat first and then bend down to find a tiny weeny button which then releases the boot door upon pressing. Come on!!! Are you kidding me?

Centre console at the middle back seat
Image from Locky's English Playground

What's more, I have always disliked the centre console, and so the presence of it in a big car as such annoys me even more.

If you want to get out of the car, you need to pull the door handle TWICE to get the door open! Yes, twice! For what? Safety reasons? Bonkers!! So if you pull once it must be your mistake, twice means you are sure you want out? Imagine you have to turn the knob on the toilet door twice to confirm you want to get out.

The steering wheel always block the speedometer.
Image from Locky's English Playground
Want to change drivers? Sorry, you have to readjust all the height of the seats and driving wheels.

Speedometer and tachometer with needles
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Still using traditional meter hands instead of LED screen.

Too many instructions, too much memorization, too much hassle! Feels like I hire a housemaid to help with housework but I have to remind her to do everything from mopping the floor to cooking meals, otherwise, she won't do it.

Come on! I buy a car so that I want my car to take care of me, not for me to take care of it!

Image from Locky's English Playground

If I were not given the choice of Tesla Model S, and I only have this 520i and the two old Mercedes Benz to choose from, I will choose the old-timers for sure.

BMW is just too dumb as a smart car.

Finally, an unfair specification comparison between my dream car Tesla Model S and BMW 520i.

Tesla Model S

BMW 520i

Power416 - 428 hp @ 5000 rpm  184 hp @ 5000-6250 rpm
Torque599 Nm (442 lb-ft) @ 0 rpm  270 Nm (199 lb-ft) @ 1250-4500 rpm
Top speed125 -134 mph (201-215kph) 145mph (233kph)
0 - 60 mph

4.2 - 5.9 seconds

(0 - 62 mph) 7.9 seconds
Fuel Consumption

208-265 miles range n(EPA) 680 - 725 miles
(based on 70L tank capacity and
data from combined fuel consumption)

8 years or
125,000 miles / unlimited miles
whichever comes first
battery warranty 
2 years
CO2 Emissions0 g /km 149-139 g /km
Seating capacity5, expandable to 7 5
Total cargo capacity1795.3 liters(63.4 cubic feet) 396.4 litres (14 cubic feet)
SunroofPanoramic Present
price in HKD
$579k - $1.038M
(First Registration Tax waived
until 31 March 2017)
First Registration Tax included)
Estimated fuel cost
in 4 years based on
60,000 miles in HKD
60,000 / 208 miles x 60kW x $1.349
= $23,348

(based on the cost of electricity from
Hong Kong Electric )

60,000 / 725 miles x $16.92 x 70L
= $98,019

(based on price of
premium unleaded gasoline
from Sinopec
as of today -- $16.92 / L)
REMARKSFree charging possible at various
car parks and government parking lots.
Hong Kong Electric is currently the most costly electricity provider in Hong Kong. In a recent shareholder meeting, HKE has vowed to maintain the price of electricity at $1.349 for the next 5 years.

Gas price fluctuates, generally follows a long-term uptrend.
For data source, please see Resources below.

Auto: Mercedez Benz C180 Kompressor Review @ Locky's English Playground

Technology: Fun Facts About Tesla Model S We All Should Know @ Locky's English Playground

Technology & Opinions: My Tesla Model S Hands-on Review  @ Locky's English Playground

Auto: Mercedez Benz C180 Kompressor Review @ Locky's English Playground

Tesla Motors

2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year: Tesla Model S @ Motor Trend

Model S Features @ Tesla Motors


2013 Tesla Model S Base Sedan 0-cyl. Electric 1-speed Direct Drive Features and Specs @

2013 BMW 5 Series 528i Sedan 2.0L 4-cyl. Turbo 8-speed Automatic Features and Specs @

2014 BMW 5-Series Interior @ U.S. News Best Cars

Oil Calc - Mobile @ Consumer Council

Power bills set to soar for Kowloon and New Territories households @ SCMP

Transport Department - Guidelines for Importation and Registration of Motor Vehicle