Let’s get it out of the way first up – thank you BMW for replacing the last-gen 5-series, we are looking forward to this one. While the previous car was big, it was just too bloated and did not look nice and wasn’t much fun to drive. That seems to have been sorted out rather well by the designers at BMW this time around. From the time it turned a final corner to come to 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 on that 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 calipers 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 passersby taking note and some even being left gaping.
It is indeed a compliment to the car, because not many four-door sedans get this kind 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 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 air-con 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 have 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 3.0-litre, straight-six diesel to deliver incredibly linear power output.
The bi-turbo set up may allow the motor to arrive at its peak torque of 620Nm at 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 ’box 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. 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 if you’ve let the chauffeur take a day off.
My only question though, how does the guy next to you get in? Err, moving on. 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 crater-like ones that is, big wheels diving into large potholes 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, by the time you are half way through, you’re likely to hear the body kit scrape over the honking that traffic behind you has invariably resorted to. 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, almost petrol-like with its revs and wide powerband. 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; 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 millimeter 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 tad bit. Put your foot down and 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. 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’s 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 do not exist.
And, if you 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. 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 now, it’s back. In fact, this is a car that you should think of only if you are going to drive it. The rear seats are alright, you have a couple of screens and a remote and can watch Blu-Ray discs with your headphones on. It has adequate leg room and climate control with a few vents to keep things comfy. There are other cars that will do it as well or even better, but there aren’t many that will drive the way this 530d does. And for 61.30 lakh (ex-Mumbai), this isn’t just a luxury sedan, it is part comfortable, part stylish with a large dose of badass thrown in.
– 2993cc, 6cyl, bi-turbo diesel, 258bhp@4000rpm, 620Nm@2000-2500rpm, 8A
– Fuel tank: 66litres, Fuel economy: 14.2kpl overall
– 0-100kph: 5.8s, 30-50: 1.3s, 50-70: 1.7, 80-0: 26.2m
Kerb Weight: 1715kg