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