China is a place where big cars like the Audi A6, Volvo S80 and BMW 5-Series aren’t big enough. That’s why you’ll find long wheelbase versions of these models sold there. At Auto Guangzhou 2010, BMW launched the latest variant of its China 5-Series range – the 520Li.

It’s a bit unusual for “20” to be stuck with “Li” but this formula of maximum car paired with minimum engine isn’t new – it’s something that works in Singapore as well. The LWB version of the F10 stretches the standard car’s wheelbase by 140 mm to measure 3,108 mm. By the way, that is longer than the F01 7-Series’ 3,070 mm wheelbase and not much shorter than the LWB Seven’s 3,210 mm. As you can see from the pic on the left, legroom is generous.

The “20” in the name lead this writer to think of the anemic four-cylinder in the 320i, but fortunately, a 2.5-litre inline-six resides in this entry level Five, paired to the usual 8-speed auto gearbox. The engine makes 177 hp and 230 Nm to lug 1.8 tonnes – 0-100 km/h is done in 9.7 seconds and top speed is 222 km/h. As comparison, our CKD 523i with 204 hp/250 Nm does 8.5 seconds and 234 km/h.

Of course, not every Chinese businessman will settle for a 520Li. Above this 418,600 yuan base model is the 523, 528 and 535, and all are Li variants. Do you think this formula of maximum car with minimum engine will work in Malaysia?