BMW 530d STEP­TRONIC

The 530d may just be the pick of the new sev­enth-gen­er­a­tion 5 Se­ries range

Car (South Africa) - - TEST -

LUX­URY ve­hi­cles such as the BMW 530d have the odds stacked against them. Firstly, ex­ec­u­tive sedans aren’t ex­actly flavour of the month judged along­side their far more pop­u­lar SUV brethren. Se­condly, this test car sur­passed the R1-mil­lion mark with a long list of op­tions fit­ted, and that places it among a num­ber of larger ve­hi­cles. Lastly, “Diesel­gate” has done the in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion of oil­burn­ers no favours. How­ever, to judge the 530d based solely on these cri­te­ria would be to do it a dis­ser­vice be­cause, sim­ply put, it’s bril­liant.

Tur­bod­iesel en­gines are known for their sat­is­fy­ing per­for­mance-to-fu­el­con­sump­tion ra­tio and it is es­pe­cially true in the case of the six-cylin­der, 3,0-litre unit in the 530d. The 620 N.m of torque dom­i­nates pro­ceed­ings and lends the ve­hi­cle an elas­tic, midrange ac­cel­er­a­tion ca­pa­bil­ity that the 540i (3,0-litre tur­bopetrol with 250 kw/450 N.m) we had on test ear­lier this year sim­ply can’t match. Even the meaty growl from the engine depart­ment is pleas­ant to the ear, but there is some vi­bra­tion through the steer­ing wheel and seats.

On our test strip, the pow­er­train, which is con­nected to a slick eight-speed torque-con­verter trans­mis­sion, com­fort­ably matched BMW’S im­pres­sive 0-100 km/h claim of 5,7 sec­onds. Cou­pled with a fuel-use fig­ure of 6,5 L/100 km on our fixed 100 km route and it’s clear this is a world­class pow­er­train.

The ad­van­tage of pi­lot­ing a sedan com­pared with an SUV is im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent when the road starts to snake. The low cen­tre of grav­ity and planted feel of the 530d al­low the driver to

Con­ser­va­tively styled, yes, but the 5 Se­ries dis­plays a great bal­ance in its pro­por­tions. The cabin mir­rors the de­sign of the 7 Se­ries, but with an ap­pro­pri­ate down­scal­ing of some fin­ishes (metal to plas­tic, for ex­am­ple).

con­fi­dently turn it into a bend and en­joy the build­ing of lat­eral force while the ve­hi­cle stays in con­trol.

Sport mode en­hances the re­sponse of the pow­er­train fur­ther, while the dy­namic trac­tion-con­trol set­ting (by a quick press of the DSC but­ton; longer and the sys­tem de­ac­ti­vates fully) al­lows oc­ca­sional chirps from the Miche­lin rub­ber dur­ing en­thu­si­as­tic driv­ing.

It’s not quite per­fect dy­nam­i­cally, how­ever. This test unit didn’t have the ear­lier 540i’s adap­tive damp­ing op­tion and the 530d felt a touch choppy on poor sur­faces. Tick that box if you de­sire a bet­ter com­pro­mise.

Styling-wise, the new Five is a clear evo­lu­tion over the con­ser­va­tively penned pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion, but a hand­some ve­hi­cle nonethe­less. In­side, mean­while, per­ceived qual­ity is as good as it gets in this seg­ment, but an E-class and S90 dis­play more de­sign flair. Space all-round is gen­er­ous enough for a fam­ily of burly types.

TEST SUM­MARY

Al­though most South African buy­ers will con­tinue opt­ing for lux­ury SUVS rather than sedans such as the 530d, those who choose the four-door should be smug in their de­ci­sion. It’s nearly as re­fined as the 7 Se­ries, drives bet­ter than any off-roader and sips fuel like a mid-size hatch­back.

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