A rogue in a tuxedo: BMW 530D M Sport Drive Review

The BMW 5 Series has always been the motoring enthusiast’s favourite executive sedan. No other luxury saloon has ever managed to capture the essence of the 5 Series, a car that arguably handles better than many sports cars. With a history so illustrious, the 5 Series could only get better. And with the sixth generation 5 Series, BMW set a new benchmark in the segment.

The 5 Series lineup in India is impressive across all variants, but there’s no doubt that the 530D with the M Sport package is the most desirable of the lot. Thankfully, it was also the one we tested.

The BMW 530D M Sport is a seriously good-looking car; it looks calm and poised on the exterior and is soaked in luxury inside. But then looks can be deceptive. Don’t get taken in by its serious sophistication, because beneath the sobriety lies a real beast of a machine. It’s like a rogue in a tuxedo.

In terms of styling, the new 5 Series has subtle changes when compared with the pre-facelift model. I always found the 5 Series to be a very good-looking car, and the new one just takes that a step forward. Our test 530D has the M Sport package installed, which takes styling cues from its big brother – the M5. There are special paint options, very sporty 18” alloys, and a beautiful shadow line running across its side giving it a really stunning profile.

Towards the front we have a redesigned bumper, and the front headlamps have also been modified, with sleek daytime running LED lights that look fantastic. At the back, the redesigned tail lights and horizontal LED strips give the car a distinct look. The black exhaust pipes add character, and there are various M badges around the car, reminding you of what lies within.

Inside, there is a lot of premium well crafted leather, brushed aluminium, chrome and wood trims. The electronically adjustable front seats are quite plush, and the seat angle, back-rest angle, seating depth and lumbar-support height and depth can be altered to your choice. The seats have air chambers that can be inflated to varying levels, considerably reducing strain on the back muscles. You can store your settings on memory so that you find your perfect personal position every time. The rear seats also have a lot of head and legroom for two, though the high transmission tunnel in the middle takes up a bit of space for the third occupant. There are several useful storage options around the cabin – door slots, cup holders, coin box and designated spaces to hold your remote, phone and car key. The overall fit and finish is just impeccable.

The car has 2-zone automatic climate control with rear AC vents. There is an electrically retractable sun blind at the rear, and manual ones on the sides that cut out the sunlight and give you the privacy you need at the back. There is also an electric sunroof, which when opened gives the car a nice, airy feel.

The 530D M Sport comes loaded with luxury. The car has a head-up display feature, which means you never have to take your eyes off the road. There’s also an iDrive system with a huge 25.9 cm screen in the front with split-screen capabilities, GPS and navigation, a DVD drive, and an integrated hard drive. Park Distance Control comes as standard for both front and rear, and is paired with a rear view camera. The iDrive system has BMW Apps and BMW Live functionality, and there’s Bluetooth and USB connectivity for your phone.

Audio features can also be controlled from the rear with a remote, and the Harmon Kardon surround sound system is spectacular to say the least. The rear has individual entertainment packages with two 23.3 cm displays. The overall build quality inside out is absolutely superb; everything feels as it should and works like it should. The car truly makes you realise that it’s the little details that make all the difference. The M Sport package adds an M sports steering wheel, which can be adjusted 4 ways. Also, most of the iDrive functions can be controlled from the wheel – your phone, contacts, music, voice commands. You can set the speed limit and the cruise control on the highway and have a pretty stress free drive.

The 530D M Sport is the top of the line variant in the 5 Series lineup, and its spec sheet is a testament to that. The car is powered by a 3.0 litre in-line 6 engine with BMW’s TwinPower Turbo technology. It produces 258 BHP and an astonishing 540 Nm of torque – a torque rating that is more than most supercars. All this grunt means this sensible saloon reaches 100 km/h in 5.8 seconds flat, and goes on to a top speed of 250 km/h.

Some reviewers around the world have rated this engine as one of the best in any car ever, and I don’t think I would argue with them. This really would rank amongst the top. The smoothness with which the power is delivered is commendable. The evil growl when you step the pedal impresses, as does the dramatically low noise level of the engine, at idle. There were times when we heard absolutely nothing while standing right next to it.

This one is certainly the most driver-oriented executive saloon you can get your hands on. The dynamism of the car is complemented with ample amounts of power and torque and the car handles beautifully, corners flat and remains completely stable in all situations.

The 530D M Sport delivers its power through an 8-speed automatic sports transmission, with paddle shifters for manual control. The gearbox is smarter than most humans, the shifts are instantaneous, and gear selection is perfectly timed. A lot of torque is available in lower revs, which means the available power can be easily exploited. There are four different driving modes as well. So if you are being chauffeur driven, you could set it on Eco Pro, which gives the highest efficiency and the speed is limited to 120 km/h. Comfort mode is what you would perhaps end up using the most during week days, and it considerably softens the suspension for a luxurious ride. But if you decide to get behind the wheel yourself, have a clear stretch ahead and need a truly engaging driving experience, switch to Sport or Sport Plus mode. This truly unleashes the monster within.

One of the coolest features is when the analogue speedometer and rev counter changes to a digital one in Sport mode. It turns red and makes the driver’s console feel like a cockpit. There is a noticeable thrust, the engine growls and the ride sharpens. The whole car completely transforms into a mean rogue and the experience can be addictive. Floor the throttle from a standstill and you will spin the wheels. Sport Plus also disengages traction control, giving you ultimate control over the car.

The aggressive dynamism is offset by BMW’s EfficientDynamics technology, brake energy regeneration and an automatic Start/Stop function for increased fuel economy. The car also has commendably low CO2 emissions, and an average fuel economy of more than 15 km/l.

In the safety department, the 530D comes with 8 airbags, ABS, Dynamic Stability Control, Dynamic Traction Control and Run flat tires. Another feature that is helpful in stop & go city traffic is the Auto Hold feature that keeps the parking brake on, even after you release the brake. The car would only move forward when you gently step on the accelerator again.

At INR 57.90 lacs (ex-showroom), the 530D M Sport may seem pricey, but look closely and you can justify the investment. Because what you get here, are essentially two cars.

One, an unassuming, luxurious, serious and sensible family car which doubles as the perfect limousine during the week. On another occasion, this car has the ability to turn into a complete rogue. Give the 530D’s chiselled nose a whiff of the track, push it to its limits, and it will show you what ‘sheer driving pleasure’ is all about. It is amazing how a car so civilised at one moment, can be so thrilling at another. And its this range of the 530D that truly mesmerises.

Driving the 530D M Sport is an occasion. It makes you wonder at the marvel of automobile technology that has evolved through the years to create a car as spellbinding as this.

Above all, it adds a bit of pantomime to the banalities of life and makes it all seem so worth it. And isn’t that all you truly need?

Watch the complete video review of the BMW 530D M Sport here:

Photography: Rohan Mahanta/Location: New Delhi
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