Late last year BMW India refreshed its popular 5 series, the 530D M which came to us for testing is the forerunner of the 5 series. Compared to its predecessor this latest avatar is zippier, greener and thanks to the ‘M’ sports kit it is, well, sportier. In our four days of extensive testing which covered everything from the clogged city traffic to the ever-inviting Mumbai-Pune expressway we realized that the 530D M packs the right amount of power, tech and style making it one of the best executive saloons in its segment.
Compared to its German and British counterparts BMW has remained a bit subtle when it comes to face lifting. But then again that has been synonymous with the automaker. Look closely and the changes are visible in the front grille which is now wider and more prominent with heavier chrome accents. The lower air intakes and fog lamp housings are redesigned to give a sportier look. Hard to miss are the LED stripes running in the tail lights, adaptive LED headlamps, the massive 18 inch alloy wheels and the M badging on the door sills.
Welcome LED’s on the door handles are a sure shot headturner.
Step inside the 530D M and the most visible feature is that BMW has made away with the traditional analog dials for digital and crisply rendered dials. The interiors feel extremely plush and has the right balance of contrasting hues. Everything feels right in place on the driver-focused dashboard as you sink into the driver’s seat which offers a host of adjustable driving positions.
The soft orange ambient lighting transforms it into a business class cabin.
Dominating the cabin is the 10.25 inch TFT screen it is a tad larger than an iPad and is complemented with the iDrive system which allows you to control the entertainment, navigation, telephone and other features. The iDrive controller is very easy to use. Its glossy top doubles as a touchpad which recognizes handwriting allowing you to make calls, enter destinations and other commands, it takes some time getting used to the scribbling but the convenience makes up for the learning curve.
Be it Mozart or Tiesto you will not miss even a slight chime thanks to the 16 strategically placed Harman Kardon speakers.
Entertaining the rear passengers are two 9.17 inch screens for media playback from the 6-DVD changer and the onboard hard drive. BMW has ambitiously included three head restraints but the tall transmission tunnel limits the rear seat to just two passengers. Adding to the comfort is a power sunshade for the rear window and manual sunshades for the rear doors.
The sporty front seats are extremely comfortable but all those layers of cushioning do take up precious space and that is clearly evident if you are tall. The rear seat was a bit packed after adjusting the drivers seat to my height of 6.1”. Coming to the boot it packs a capacity of 520 liters which would adequately suffice for airport trips and the occasional family road trips.
Driving and handling –
The BMW 530D is powered by a 3 liter (2996 cc) turbocharged inline six cylinder diesel engine which produces 255 hp and 540Nm of torque, making it one of the torquiest engines in the segment. It is immaculately paired with an eight speed automatic gearbox which evenly blends the high torque at lower RPM’s for a smooth ride.
So how fast is she? In our tests using the launch control the 3 liter propelled this 1.8 tonne behemoth from a standstill to 100 kmph in a mere 6.3 seconds.
The engine is so flawlessly refined that it can turn a hardcore petrolhead to a diesel lover.
The 530D gets four driving modes, EcoPro, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. Toggling between the modes completely changes the instrument cluster – In EcoPro the tacho is replaced by a power meter which shows the power generated by regenerative braking and the fuel you have saved. Comfort mode has the traditional dials, whereas in the Sports modes the cluster turns a bright devilish red.
The EcoPro and the Comfort mode make use of the Start Stop function which automatically turns off the engine where the car is stationary, the engine kicks back to life when the brake pedal is released or when the air conditioning needs to be used.
The beauty of the engine and the noiseless cabin can be experienced when the powerful diesel comes to life, there is absolutely no starting noise and vibration.
EcoPro is designed for only one purpose ‘to save fuel’, and for that everything, the throttle, gearbox and air conditioning is adapted for maximum fuel economy. The pedal offers notable resistance making it harder to depress the pedal. This idea plays on the human psyche – If the pedal is more difficult to press, people will press the pedal less. This mode was practical for bumper to bumper traffic, however the toned down air-conditioning struggled to tame Mumbai’s infamous October heat.
The Comfort mode delivers the standard driving and transmission settings, making it ideal for city driving. With the Start/Stop functionality and regenerative braking you would still be doing your part for a greener planet.
The Sports Modes is where the magic kicks in. The gearshift becomes more responsive, the suspension gets more agile, the steering gets a bit stiff and on press of the pedal the 255 turbocharged ponies fill their lungs with air and release a boost that will bring a wide smile on your face. To take the excitement further the Traction control can be partially or fully turned off. The Sport Plus mode is for the true performance aficionados as the gears are held even longer and using paddle shifters you can hold gears all the way. In this mode while steering deep into corners the suspension did a great job of tracking the car.
Even at 150 kmph a gentle push on the pedal delivers a pleasing gust of power.
Overall I was very impressed with the 530D’s performance we were able to carve a jagged mountain road with some serious speed. As we moved into fast corners the car felt light on its feet while the six cylinder diesel was persistent in asking for more and impressing us with its power.
The three spoke leather clad M steering is not as responsive as the earlier 5 series, but it is extremely precise and intuitive despite lacking strong feedback. The brakes were confidence inspiring and felt positive and effective when called upon. BMW has also managed to pack in some brilliant technology to keep you safe, you get 8 airbags, run flat tyres along with ABS, Traction control, Cornering brake control and Dynamic Stability control.
The 530D is a truly beautiful car and hard to find fault with. The shortcomings are with the rear seat as it becomes a bit packed after the front seat is adjusted for a tall occupant. Secondly the ride quality is a bit stiff, even when in Comfort mode the car does not just glide over the bumps they register in the cabin. Apart from these BMW has managed to build a car which transforms from a comfortable fuel miser to a speed demon with the touch of a button. With a host of modes available to tame the 255hp turbocharged diesel, the 530D effectively breaks the mould of the 5 series from being a chauffeur driven car to a pure driver’s car.
You just cant go wrong with it – One heck of a diesel engine, a tech laden comfortable cabin that would put a business class cabin to shame and a body that’s built like a tank.
|Engine||6 cylinder inline, 2996 cc turbocharged diesel|
|Torque||55kgm at 1500-3000rpm|
|Power||255bhp at 4000rpm|
|Transmission||8 speed automatic|
|City||10.6 kms/liter (Comfort Mode)|
|Highway||11.9 kms liter (Sports Mode)|
|0 to 100 kmph||6.4 seconds using launch control|
|Pricing||57.90 lacs (Ex showroom Delhi)|