BMW launched the wagons with a drive through rural Victoria over narrow, bumpy roads that the vehicles took in their stride.
Key to their sure-footing is the aluminium double wishbone front axle and integral rear axle air suspension with self-levelling that adjusts for loads. It is so good, you can easily forget you are driving a wagon.
For better stability, the 6.5cm longer wagon now has an 8cm longer wheelbase measuring 2.97m, the same as the sedan.
Diesel buyers can also option stiffer and lower M sport suspension or Dynamic Damper Control suspension in which each wheel adjusts to road conditions 400 times a second.
The 535i also comes with an M Sport option and DDC with adaptive drive to reduce body roll.
The dynamic suspension easily accounted for rough shoulders when we had to get two wheels off the road to allow oncoming vehicles to pass.
The standard speed-variable electric steering feels a little artificial, while the optional Integral Active Steering will take time to get used to.
It allows the rear wheels to steer in the opposite direction by 2.5 degrees under 60km/h and in the same direction over 60km/h.
This reduces the turning circle by 50cm at slow speeds and creates stable lane-changing at highway speeds.
As expected, the three-litre straightsix engine is a high-revving delight, but Prices: $92,800 (520d), $138,900 (535i) Engines: 2.0L, 4-cylinder diesel; 3.0-litre straight-six petrol Power: 135kW (520d), 225kW (535i)
Torque: 380Nm (520d), 400Nm (535i) Economy (L/100km): 5.3 (520d), 8.5 (535i) CO2 (g/km): 139 (520d), 197 (535i) Competitors: Audi Allroad 3.0 TDI ($ 106,900), Q7 3.0 TDI ($ 88,614) and 3.0 TFSI ($ 93,814); Mercedes E250 CDI, ($ 98,400), ML 350 ($ 88,310) and ML 300 CDI ($ 84,760) the diesel is the surprise package. Despite being just a two-litre fourcylinder, it gallops along quietly and efficiently with no-fuss acceleration. A diesel variant in this sleek and stylish wagon package will reel in buyers who prefer a car-like experience without sacrificing the loadcarrying practicality of an SUV.