BMW 530d On Test - Class Act
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
For the busy executive who plies the highways and byways of the UK, there is still something pleasantly reassuring about piloting a sporting saloon car. Yes an SUV may be more family-friendly and an estate car more practical, but you only have to look at the outside lane of any motorway to see a succession of stylish saloons gliding by, carrying the lone occupant to an important meeting.
In order to get into character whilst playing host to the latest BMW 530d, I hung up my jacket, entered my Cotswolds car launch destination into the sat nav and headed for the nearest motorway.
The afternoon traffic on the M1 was unusually heavy, but inside the BMW all remained calm and I arrived at my destination some four hours later, if not refreshed then not overly tired.
The new 5-series has been on a diet and has lost some 100kg, thanks to clever use of high-strength steel and aluminium in both the body and suspension. This plays dividends in the ride and handling departments and also improves efficiency and performance.
The new model looks less bulky than its predecessor too.
There is no substitute for size, or so I am told and under the bonnet sits a 265PS bi-turbo 3.0-litre straight six diesel. The headline figures make for impressive reading. The 0-62mph sprint time of 5.7 seconds and top speed of 155mph only tell half the story as up to 60.1mpg is claimed for the combined cycle and emissions are spectacularly low at just 124g/km CO2.
Yes you can buy a 520d for around £9,000 less and you sacrifice a little performance and will travel a wee bit further on each gallon of diesel.
That is perhaps missing the point as in the real world the 530d feels considerably faster and with a less stressed engine is just as economical. The merest twitch of the right foot is enough to encourage the super-smooth ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox to drop a cog or two and any dawdling traffic is dispatched in the blink of an eye.
As a car to effortlessly cover ground in, the new 530d takes some beating and when called upon to join the motorway cruise, the hushed cabin, excellent seats and adaptive cruise control remove much of the stress.
I would strongly recommend adding Variable Damper Control (VDC) to your 5-series. The option to firm the ride up for a cross country blast is welcome, but the ability to cosset in the 'comfort' setting is more useful on our traffic-clogged and pock-marked roads. Only the occasional thud when encountering a large pothole spoils the calm and some blame for this must lie with the stylish 19-inch alloy wheels and low profile tyres.
The 5-series interior gets smarter with each incarnation and the high quality space offers comfort for four or five passengers, with a 530-litre boot for chattels.
The choice of materials is first rate and ooze class and style.
There is technology aplenty which of course includes all the expected connectivity. If you delve into the extensive options list you can add on-board WiFi, gesture control, a night vision camera and massaging seats.
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The petrol versus diesel debate rumbles on and you can specify your 5-Series with a powerful petrol engine. A 530i and 540i models offer power (6.2 and 4.8 seconds for the 0-62mph sprint) yet will not deliver the on paper economy (48.7 and 39.2mpg for the combined cycle).
Not only are the official figures well shy of the 530D's numbers, but in the real world the diesel engine will prove far superior.
Over 500+ miles I recorded almost 50mpg with ease and at no time was I driving with economy in mind. I doubt petrol power would have yielded much over 35mpg at best.
The BMW 5 Series faces a raft of talented competition. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class majors on space and comfort and Jaguar's latest XF probably boasts the best dynamics in its class.
However for all round ability, the 530D takes some beating. Effortless power, sensible running costs and a high-tech premium interior lift the car to the top of the class.
As I sit writing this review I am conscious of a 250-mile drive south that I will be undertaking in the morning. Sadly the 530d is but a distant memory, more's the pity. Perhaps I need to review a 520 model sometime soon?
BMW 530d M Sport Saloon
265PS Bi-Turbo 3.0-litre engine
8-speeds ZF automatic gearbox
0-62mph in 5.7 seconds
Top speed 155mph (limited)
Economy - 60.1mpg combined
Emissions 124g/km CO2
List price £47,135 (£63,770 as tested)
M-Sport Package + £1,995
Glass Sunroof + £995
Driving Assistant Plus + £2,250
Premium Package + £2,170
Technology Package + £1,495
BMW 530d On Test - Class Act, 17th October 2017, 10:01 AM