Test Drive Review BMW 530i – Autoworld.com.my

The current generation of BMW’s 5 Series mid-sized executive sedan is the seventh. Codenamed G30, BMW touts this as ‘The Business Athlete’, but is it lucky number seven for the German automaker and will it help bring the brand back to a dominant position in the premium market? The 5 Series reviewed here is the imported variant, the 530i with M Sport kit, that was launched in Malaysia before BMW Group Malaysia introduced the locally-assembled version. There isn’t much difference between the two except for the price tag, and upgraded navigation and omission of adaptive cruise control in the local version.

It looks like BMW took the evolutionary route with the new G30 5 Series as, at a glance, its overall look is similar to its predecessor.

If you’re a car nut or fan boy, you might be able to spot the differences such as the sleeker elongated shape of the Adaptive LED headlamps that join up with the wider and more angular front grille with active air vents, the less round LED halos, reprofiled bumpers, and cleaner bonnet lines. The tail lamps however, look identical in shape to the previous. But a non-car-nut can tell the new one by its wider and leaner profile.

And it looks wider than the previous because it is. It may not be obvious but it is also longer and taller. Another telltale sign to spot the new 5 Series is the air breather vents on the front fender that improve aerodynamics. But you will not spot the use of high-tensile steel and magnesium in the car’s construction that helps shave off about 100 kg while adding rigidity and strength.

And just like the exterior, the interior is also an evolutionary step. Although the design changes to the dashboard and its surroundings are quite extensive, everything still looks familiar. It’s like an update, but with a lower bling factor than some of its rivals. Yet I still find it undoubtedly stylish and functional. Maybe BMW has chosen this route because of it has a large following of buyers that want dignified rather than loud.

Resting atop the dashboard is the 10.25″ touchscreen that no longer hides under a cowl. It displays the essentials like media, navigation, vehicle information, driving data and even the weather, in tile form. The options in this display can be accessed via the iDrive controller dial, which also has handwriting recognition on its surface, or the buttons on the steering wheel (you can also use gesture or voice control if you so choose). Meanwhile, the metres are displayed on a 12.3″ digital screen in front of the driver and duplicates some of the displays from the touchscreen, such as navigation and fuel consumption, for better visibility. The metre themes change according to the selected drive mode but the car always starts in Comfort mode by default.

Speaking of comfort, there’s more to it than a driving mode. Along with the car comes the BMW Display Key which is a rather large key fob with an LED display that shows you information like the status of the car’s locks and windows, and fuel range. In addition, the key fob has a car pre-conditioning setup which allows you to remotely set a departure time (and day) and the car will ventilate the cabin before your set-off time so you can feel comfortable upon entering. The pre-conditioning function can also be accessed from the iDrive controller in the car.

And just like the Business Athlete that it is, the leather seats feel comfortable and offer a good amount of support; like (dare I say) a really good athletic supporter. Except for the middle seat in the rear. That one is more suited as a last-resort seat, or for passengers you don’t like very much. And as much as I enjoyed the driver’s seat (especially with the extendable thigh support), I would have enjoyed it more if it had adjustable lumbar support.

If you aren’t yet used to the use of small-volume four-cylinder engines turbocharged to compensate for the lack of displacement, or cylinders, then you’d better do so (unless you’re able to jump back in time). The 530i is no exception to this new trend to meet emissions and efficiency standards. Back in the day, an executive saloon like a 530i would get a 3.0L inline six engine, even as recently as the previous generation that had one with 268 hp and 310 Nm.

Comparatively, the new 530i gets a 2.0L TwinPower Turbo that has an output of 252 hp and 350 Nm. A little short on horsepower but it has more pulling power. It’s hard to replace what’s displaced but the new engine is more efficient (average fuel consumption of 5.5 litres per 100 km), and in a market like ours, it’s a savings on road tax too.

Although the size of the 5 Series has grown, it doesn’t feel too large except when you’re trying to get into a tight parking spot; for that you have the Park Assistant feature for hands-free parallel and perpendicular parking. On other occasions, the 530i feels agile and athletic. It’s not sports-car fast, but there is enough grunt from the turbocharged engine to make overtaking effortless, especially in Sport mode. More importantly, the driving feels almost effortless, helped by a suspension set-up that competently dampens but the most extreme road imperfections without making the car feel soul-less.

Selecting the new Adaptive drive mode allows the car to decide the optimum performance of the engine, transmission and dynamic suspension settings. This mode also works with the navigation system to adapt to your driving style and the route ahead i.e. it refers to the map and readies the appropriate gear change, engine response and damper setting to set the car up for an impending corner.