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Review: BMW 530d

Driven July 2017

Review: BMW 530d

After the 5-series from two generations back, the last one was a bit emotionless. It felt like a big, bulbous car and it looked that way too. Needless to say, we weren’t big fans of it. However, the folks at Munich, have gone back to the drawing board to sort things out. And what can I say, it seems like they’ve hit the nail square on its head this time. From the time it turned a final corner to come rest by my side, this 530d caught my eye thanks to its chiselled features. It is in no way small, in fact, it is longer, wider and even taller. More importantly it also has a bigger wheelbase, which should translate to better space inside the cabin. But more about that a little later.

For now, let’s just take a better look at the sleeker profile of this new car, especially here with the M-Sport package which adds various bits of skirting all around the car. In case you miss it, BMW has ensured you don’t miss the special blue ‘M’ brake callipers that sit behind the special ‘M’ design wheels. There are creases on the bonnet to make it look more aggressive, the headlamp cluster looks like it has been extended from the grille and there is a strong shoulder line that runs the length of the car. The effect is a lot of passers-by taking note and some even being left gaping. It is indeed a compliment to the car, because not many four-door saloons get this level of reaction.



However, it is when you step inside that this 5-series impresses even further. A new steering wheel, brand new dashboard and even the instrument cluster has changed to a screen that changes the way the dials are displayed depending on the drive mode that you select. A massive 12-inch screen sits on top of the centre console, which is now touch enabled and, if you care to try it, responds to a specific set of gestures as well – like the 7-series. BMW hasn’t fiddled with the iDrive console to keep a certain degree of familiarity for ones who have been using it already. The drive mode selector, however, looks different now and no longer comes with a Sport + option. Instead you get an Adaptive mode in addition to Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport. They have also got rid of most of the buttons on the centre console. Even the aircon works off a combination of buttons and touch sensitive controls. It definitely makes for a cleaner interface to combine with the soft touch leather wrapped panels and plastics. What could’ve been finished better is the textured highlight that BMW calls Pearl Chrome.

Setting off for a drive, you notice how quiet the new car is. The eight-speed automatic transmission combines with the 3-litre, straight-six diesel to deliver incredibly linear power delivery. The bi-turbo set up may allow the motor to arrive at its peak torque of 620Nm between 2000-2500rpm, but it manages a fair amount of poke well below that mark. This allows the transmission to settle into a higher gear through urban conditions and still offer enough power to keep up with traffic when someone tries to cut you off. Not to forget the fact that the 8-speed transmission also has quick reaction times, in case you do need to drop a couple of cogs to get the motor spinning faster. The multimedia system is incredibly easy to use now, although finding specific functions to customise in ‘My Vehicle’ can take some getting used to. There is no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay functionality here, but Bluetooth connectivity is fairly simple to use. Like the 7, you also get a touchscreen key fob that allows you to lock your doors, set the aircon before you get in and park the 530d remotely in very tight parking spots.

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While you enjoy some music over the 16-speakers that Harman-Kardon has supplied for the 530d, you can also try and find a comfortable spot in the electrically adjusted front seats, which allows for more adjustments than a Yoga instructor could teach you. In case you do miss a couple of potholes while you are at it, don’t stress, the adaptive suspension set to ‘Comfort’ soaks up everything quite well. Apart from the big ones that is, big wheels diving into large potholes never goes unnoticed. What it doesn’t do is raise the ride height, and this can be a problem on some of our larger speedbreakers. No matter how gingerly you decide to climb it, by the time you are half way through you are likely to hear the body kit scrape.

But no matter, a slight tap of the right foot dispenses 258 horsepower which, while shoving you into the back of your seat, sends the 530d hurtling forward. It is a delightful engine this one, it is almost petrol-like with the way it manages to rev and the wide powerband that it delivers power over. Pull paddle behind the steering wheel as the rev counter shoots past 4000rpm and watch it do it once more. Before you know it 100kph has been dealt with and it has been done in less than six seconds.

Yes, the 530d feels perfectly alright dealing with everyday traffic and the virtual car working with a bunch of sensors and cameras provides a surreal view of the surroundings that enable you to measure every gap with millimetre perfection. But, it is out on open roads that you can unleash this fantastic straight-six to be the hooligan that it is capable of being. Shift to ‘Sport’ mode and the side bolsters come a little bit closer to hold you tight in place, the steering weighs up a little more and the dampers firm up a tab bit. Put your foot down and the power surges through the transmission and to the rear wheels. It almost proves too much for the computers to wrap their calculations around and the traction control nanny lights up and proves almost too intrusive.

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Good thing BMW still allows you to switch it off in two stages – depending on what sort of a hooligan you would want to be. It takes little provocation to get the tail-end to step out of line and if you continue to poke it, the 530d will get very sideways too. The steering doesn’t have that direct feedback and the wheel itself is rather fat, but it is enough to get the job done. In fact, as you pick up speed, the ride smoothens out even further and it simply swallows minor patches of bad road like they did not exist. And, if you do choose, you can even settle down at a triple digit cruise at a low 1200rpm, munching down the miles while you enjoy the best seat in the house.

If you are inclined toward the rear bench, there is a fair amount of space on offer. It is adequately comfortable with just enough legroom. You also get a rear seat entertainment package which gives you two separate 10-inch screens. They can be controlled individually via a single remote since they aren’t touchscreen units. However, you could be watching your favourite Blu-Ray disc while you potter around town. You also get two separate zones to customize your chosen corner of the car and vents in the centre and on the B-pillars. Yes, there’s enough, but it doesn’t feel special in any way like some of its rivals.

This new iteration of the 5-series has restored some faith in BMW for making the sort of cars we have loved, because of the way they drive. It may have lost its way somewhere in the middle, but they are back. In fact, this is a car that you should think of only if you are going to drive it. Quite frankly, it will be a bit of a waste if you decide to lounge around in the rear bench for most of the time. Yes, they are alright and have the essential kit, but it doesn’t offer anything in excess. There isn’t legroom that will blow you away or any seat adjustments to speak of. There are other cars that will do these things as well or even better, but there aren’t many that will drive the way this 530d does. And for Rs 61.30 lakh (ex-showroom), this isn’t just a luxury sedan, it is part comfortable, part stylish with a large dose of badass thrown in.

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Pros: Fantastic engine, good fun to drive, impressive ride quality
Cons: Ordinary rear seat space and comfort, some plastic bits feel inexpensive

Verdict: Here is a car that balances ride and handling really well, just as it manages a comfortable cruise or an enthusiastic drive.

Specification:
Price: Rs 61.30 lakh
Engine: 2993cc, 6cyl, bi-turbo diesel
Power: 258bhp@4000rpm
Torque: 620Nm@2000-2500rpm
Transmission: 8A
Fuel tank: 66litres
Kerb Weight: 1715kg
Performance: 0-100kph: 5.8sec
30-50: 1.3sec
50-70: 1.7
80-0: 26.2m
Fuel economy: 14.2kpl overall

Words: Debabrata Sarkar | Photograhs: Rajeev Gaikwad



Debabrata Sarkar

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