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Review: BMW 530d M Sport
Driven November 2013
The new BMW 5 series is like one of those shooting stars we spot in the night sky sometimes – blink and you miss it. So subtle are the styling tweaks that it’s hard to tell if the 5 that just zoomed passed you was a 2013 model or its predecessor. An altered front bumper, chrome housing for the fog lamps, a slightly more prominent grille, slimmer tail lamps and new LED tech for its headlamps – these are the only easy-to-miss distinctive features on the new 5.
On the other hand, if you opt for the 530d variant, be ready for a visual treat, as this top-of-the-line model comes wrapped in the M Sport package. As a result, the 530d now resembles its evil twin, the M5, and that’s down to the sporty new front and rear bumpers, sexy 18-inch alloy wheels, twin matt-black tailpipes and ego boosting ‘M’ badges on the front fenders. The 5 M is a pleasant balance between sporting flair and elegance, and it’s not just the exterior that makes you feel special, the interior also sings a similar tune.
Starting with an instrument cluster that changes colour and the type of information it reads out depending on the driving mode. Then there are extremely comfortable sporty seats upfront, leather-wrapped steering wheel with ‘M’ badge, paddle shifts, head-up display and a 530d-special interior trim. Which all makes you feel special. BMW has also made positive changes to its iDrive operating system, which now gets a larger display panel and track pad, making it quite intuitive to use.
If you like what you’ve seen so far, wait till the in-line six, 2,993cc diesel motor comes to life. Firstly, it doesn’t feel like a diesel engine. And second, the way it takes off from standstill, it’ll leave you and your passengers pleasantly surprised. The way this motor puts out all its 255bhp and 540Nm is commendable – to put it into perspective, this luxury diesel sedan can do 0-100kph in 6.1 seconds, made more impressive by the fact that it weighs a full 1.8 tons.
A lot of that is down to the launch control it comes with. And it’s not just the run-to-the-ton that this 5er excels in, its in-gear times are also impressive – 1.26s for 30-50kph, and 1.21s for 50-70kph, which shows this is an extremely drivable motor, in the city and out on the highway. All this is aided by the well-spaced out eight-speed Sport automatic gearbox, which responds exceptionally well to your right foot.
The 530d gets four driving modes – EcoPro, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. For the chauffer-driven, EcoPro makes perfect sense. It alters your accelerator pedal inputs, optimises AC blower for better fuel efficiency, engages Start/Stop, lets you monitor how much power is being used and informs you of the energy recovered from the regenerative braking system. Comfort is for self-drive owners who are still concerned about the depleting ozone layer.
And pick Sport and Sport Plus mode when you want to go bonkers in a full-blown sedan. You can switch traction control off (partially or completely) in these modes and make the 5 do things that’ll light up your face and scare the pants off your passengers. Dramatic wheelspins and excessive fishtailing seem to be the 530d’s favourite pastime in the Sport modes. For once, you’ll actually tire of all the tail slides and shredded rubber, but this Beemer can do it all day long.
The gearbox also does a brilliant job of letting the motor flex its muscles in Sport/Sport Plus/Manual modes, in which you frequently visit the 5,500rpm redline. And when driven in a relaxed manner, the eight-speed ’box upshifts early in the interest of fuel economy, which explains the tacho reading of 1,250rpm while cruising at 100kph in eighth gear.
In the city, the 530d can run 10.24km per litre in EcoPro mode, while the figure stretches to 12.68kpl on the highway when driven in a mix of Comfort and Sport modes. To sum up, Sport and Sport Plus modes are for those weekend trips when you can use all the addictive torque the 530d has to offer, while the EcoPro and Comfort modes are for the weekdays, when you can make up a bit for all the contributions you made to global warming over the weekend.
It’s in the ride and handling department that the new 5 doesn’t impress us as much. To begin with, that electronic power steering doesn’t feel anything like a typical BMW’s. It doesn’t weigh up with an increase in speed, there’s hardly any feedback and it feels dead at the centre. It does point that long stubby nose in the direction you want it to, but it doesn’t feel confidence-inspiring going into fast corners.
Ride too is on the softer side, and we believe that’s more to do with pleasing the chauffer-driven than the self-drive buyers. The Sport modes do help stiffen up the suspension to some extent, but there’s still enough body roll at high speeds for you to complain. At city speeds, the softer setup does a brilliant job of smoothening out road bumps, but the sharper ones do make themselves felt in the cabin, especially in Sport mode.
All in all, remember this is not your regular 5 series. It’s a premium luxury diesel sedan trying to fulfill your desire of owning something more powerful that your neighbour’s car. It’s a car with split personalities that can perform different jobs on weekdays and weekends. While the 530d is perfect for driving to your business meetings and social gatherings, it’s equally entertaining on a weekend out with friends.
2,993cc, in-line six, turbo-diesel, 255bhp, 540Nm, 8A, 0-100kph in 6.13s, 30-50kph in 1.26s, 50-70kph in 1.21s, city kpl: 10.24, highway kpl: 12.68
It has the looks and all the fireworks you need from a lux power-sedan. Plus, it sips diesel. What more do you need?