When the diesels learned to walk, they were still seen as smoking bores - BMW ventured into the world of auto-ignition and is now at the forefront

This is what it looked like in the engine compartment of the BMW 524 td

This is what it looked like in the engine compartment of the BMW 524 td

"For God's sake," a gas station attendant shouted at me in 1983, "You fill up with DIESEL!" His emergency call was not meant badly, but rather the discreet reference to a car-driving idiot who in his five-man BMW didn't know that BMW ultimately only built gasoline engines . I was able to reassure the man by looking at the operating manual, but I still felt that I was stunned. He just couldn't believe that there should now be a BMW with a diesel. I thought I saw him shake his head in the rearview mirror. I was on a test drive with the newly introduced BMW 524td.

I remember exactly with which introduction I started the resulting driving report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung: "Forget everything you know or think you know about diesel ..."

Back then, the BMW 524td was simply awesome. Today he wouldn't even go through as a hammer. A miserable 115 hp were still the basis for euphoric enthusiasm in 1983, the top speed of a little under 190 km / h made you king on the highway and gave you the feeling of being the greatest with a maximum torque of 210 Newton meters at each traffic light start but to be the fastest. I cannot believe that the “fastest diesel sedan” (BMW advertisement from 1983) should have taken 0 seconds from 100 to 12,9 km / h.

Full throttle was not without significant side effects: the car smoked like a GDR coal-fired power station. Soot filter? At that time the word was as unknown as facebook or the internet. Sex was still something intimate and, according to Stern and Spiegel, the climate was supposedly heading for a new ice age. We did not know CO2 from the exhaust, but only from chemistry lessons or from a bottle of mineral water, Germany was still divided, the Federal Republic was not yet on the backbone of an opaque EU bureaucracy.

Consumption - I often drove the Stuttgart - Munich route and back - of course always full throttle - leveled off between 13 and 15 liters of diesel, even though the standard consumption ignored the reality in the city at 9,5 or on average was given as 7,2 liters.

At the time, we all thought that the 524td should be the end of the dynamic flagpole for diesel sedans.

This is what a modern BMW diesel looks like today (X5)
This is what a modern BMW diesel looks like today (X5)

To err is human. And I'm not ashamed of having been so wrong with my forecast and wronging the developers so much. Car engineers are always magicians somewhere. The mechanical engineering magicians (even today) always find an improvement, as far as physics allows. What they would not have believed themselves back then is now completely normal. Well, yes, not exactly normal, but we have long since got used to such engine performance. Even today I could write “Forget everything you know about diesel”. If I give full throttle in my 535 d touring with 300 PS and a torque of 600 Nm, I am to 5,8 km / h in 100 seconds and have to be content with a top speed of 250 km / h because it is limited. The fact that my on-board computer shows a consumption of only 50.000 liters after 7,8 km is a technical miracle. But also because I meanwhile avoid full throttle orgies and enjoy BMW's “Efficient Dynamics” while driving with foresight. The end of the flagpole? Of course not, because there is now the 535 d with 313 hp. And the M 550 d xDrive with 381 hp and an insane 740 Nm. This is then the ultimate ride on the cannonball: 0 to 100 km / h in 4,7 seconds. Absolute madness at the level of the BMW M5.

And as usual, the fact that the consumption should be an official 6,4 liters is only documented in the papers. With my test car, however, I managed to travel very quickly with 8,7 liters. And the best thing about it: don't give the tiniest cloud of soot at full throttle. And Euro 6 certified.

The end of the diesel dynamic flagpole? That's all I'm saying.





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