Test Drives

BMW 530i Review (2017) : Masterful middleweight

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BMW’s 530i is a great middle ground for those who want less cost but slightly more oomph in a big sedan

Munich, Germany –
By now we’ve driven both the range-topping 540i, and just passed verdict on the entry-level 520d in the previous story, so the 530i is the missing, middle piece of the complete BMW 5 Series line-up for Singapore.

Until the 520i appears, the 530i is the least expensive petrol 5er for Singapore. Previously, the middleweight petrol model was called the 528i, and the new 530i lives up to its name by having a similar 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine but with a very slight seven horsepower increase now and the same peak torque figure of 350Nm.

In performance terms, nothing much has changed, with 0-100km/h and top speed remaining the same, but fuel consumption improving from 6.1L/100km to 5.7L/100km.

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That the 540i M Sport is a cracking monster comes as little surprise, given the preceding F10 5 Series was very much the same at the sharp, spendy end of the stick. The key question here is, do lesser variants of the 5er deliver the promised experience too?

A large sedan like the 5 Series should deliver lots of tech, great comfort, and more than a bit of excitement when the situation demands, and the 530i quite easily ticked the boxes and didn’t leave any obvious driver wants.

The test unit we drove came, as expected, packed to the gills with equipment. The optional semi-autonomous assist systems came in handy during Munich’s rush hour, and for added safety in managing blind spots and lane changes, although the entire package (Driving Assistant Plus) is a $13,800 option. Not a huge additional cost, but well worth it if you’re a high-mileage driver. It adds a significant level of automation to the process, like similar systems found on the Volvo S90 (as standard) or the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (optional). 

The less expensive Driving Assistant option ($5,370) includes lane departure and lane change warning, autonomous braking function (with pedestrian detection), speed limit info and more. 

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The Sport Line model comes with a slightly sportier suspension setup, and in this case the M-themed interior, as well as Dynamic Damper Control, which is absent on the Singapore-spec 530i Luxury that has non-adaptive suspension. In spirit the German Sport Line model is much closer to the 530i M Sport offered in Singapore that has the M Sport suspension package the same M-themed interior like the extra-fat steering wheel.

While the 530i has ‘just’ 252bhp, that’s quite sufficient for fast touring in Germany, where the opportunity to hit Vmax comes along legally and often. The 530i feels agile and light in a way the old and ponderous 528i never was, even if they are very similar on paper. On crazy tight Euro carparks and small country roads, the longer, wider G30 is no more difficult to wrangle than the F10 was.

The immense refinement of the new model is apparent too – if the 530i seems a little slow, that’s just because the cabin is superbly quiet. 250km/h on the autobahn isn’t particularly terrifying for the passenger, at least.

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The ‘lesser’ 530i is still a thoroughly competent autobahn blaster, though above 200km/h needs minding 

Things are a little different for the driver as the car does seem to have a little crosswind induced twitch that appears only above 200km/h – it’s not major, nor particularly worrying, just a bit more effort needed on the pilot’s part, and irrelevant in a Singaporean context.

As we said with the 520d’s big price savings, the 530i is a good $60k cheaper than the 540i, and while we’re sure the 520d wouldn’t lag behind too much, even less in speed-restricted Singapore, if you really want petrol this is a solid way to go.

While we’ll leave our final verdict as and when the local-spec 530i happens, but the writing is on the wall already, and it seems BMW has made the G30 the sort of car in the classic BMW vein, the ones that made BMW such a force to be reckoned with – they were good no matter what was below the hood.

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BMW 530i Sport Line
Engine 1,998cc, 16V, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 252bhp at 5200-6500rpm
Torque 350Nm at 1450-4800rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
Top Speed 250km/h
0-100km/h 6.2 seconds
Fuel efficiency 5.7L/100km
CO2 131g/km
Price $299,800 with COE (530i M Sport Singapore model)
Availability Now
Also Consider: Mercedes-Benz E 300

about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats.