Driv­ing

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE -

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)

Ver­dict

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.

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