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HomeDRIVENROAD TESTEDBMW 530i M Sport

BMW 530i M Sport

The Driven team was suitably impressed recently when the latest 530i M body kit version in dark blue metallic arrived at our offices for the evaluation period consisting mainly of city driving, as well as high-speed freeway testing.

THE EXTERIOR

Following the BMW tradition of staying away from radical design changes every two years or so, the latest 530i – to universal acclaim – sported the M body kit which managed to convey a more aggressive look without bowing down to the gods of bling. The 19″ Goodyear Eagle run flats (275/35) also enhanced the car’s purposeful looks.

THE POWER

BMWs have always enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as performance cars – a reality accepted by owners who knew that their four-door sedans are sports sedans in the true sense of the word. And it’s precisely here that owners will appreciate the outputs of what is, essentially, a 2.0-litre twin turbo four cylinder. A mere decade ago, BMW would not have had the courage to market such a sports sedan with an engine this size. Dusting off the 0-100 km/h sprint in a mere 6.2 seconds, and with a top speed well in excess of 230 km/h, the 530i will stand its ground against similarly priced rivals while effortlessly staying with a diverse offering of hot hatches.

WE LIKED

The sure-footed handling, powerful all-disc brakes, great sound system (with a CD player, **nogal**), brilliant headlamps for high-speed nighttime driving, and a clear heads-up display. Folding rear seats, unusual in a sedan at this price point, enabling the conveying of large and long items. This is a typically European feature to facilitate the carrying of skis.

It goes without saying that BMW would enjoy an extensive range of luxury features such as central locking, a sunroof, electric seats, cruise control, satellite navigation and a fully adjustable steering (height and reach). Park distance control, used in tandem with a high definition rear camera, joined the list of delicious must-haves.

The leather covered seats, while fairly narrow, were extremely supportive, and the numerous airbags, together with every conceivable safety feature such as ABS, EBD and traction control, all played no small role in ensuring that the 530i fully deserved its 5-star EuroNCAP safety rating

NOT SO MUCH

As a South African, I get nervous at the prospect of tackling vast distances such as the Pretoria-Cape Town run without a spare wheel, and with only four run-flats between car and road. Other minor irritations included a steering wheel obviously designed for large hands (which I do not possess). Perhaps it’s just me, but despite my best efforts, I was unable to find the switch/button with which to lower the privacy screen in the rear window. For the remainder of the test period, I drove around wondering if this was the manner in which a Mafia underboss would be transported incognito.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

BMW engines have always managed to create awe and admiration, and the 2-litre in our test car did not disappoint. Acceleration is smooth and linear, without a trace of torque steer (thank you, rear-wheel-drive) and the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission performed in harmonious partnership with the willing 185 kW engine. Overall weight saving of some 100 kg and a low drag coefficient of 0.22 Cd likewise enabled the engine to perform impressively, despite its modest size.

THE RIVALS

The BMW 530i plays in the mid-range luxury division where some rivals lie in wait with their own 2.0-litre offerings – one exception being the Lexus RC 350 F-Sport which uses a 3.5-litre V6 that develops 233 kW and 378 Nm of torque against the BMW’s 185 and 350. Priced at R859,000, the Lexus is only slightly more expensive than the Beemer’s R850,294.

Coming in at a lower price – and lower outputs (155/350) – archrival Mercedes-Benz presents the E250 at R769,208, while the Audi A6 Quattro (also 2.0-litre) closely matches the BMW’s outputs with 185/370, and a price tag of R822,500. Not to be outdone, the Jaguar 25T XF R Sports will give you 177 kW and 340 Nm, in exchange for R882,026.

LAST WORD

The BMW 530i with M body kit is competitively priced against its rivals, feels solid and planted, gives you that perfect driving position in seconds, will carry huge luggage loads and four occupants in stylish long-distance comfort, and provides levels of safety that could be described as class-leading. It’s a highly rated machine, but it has several rivals which are also worthy of consideration.

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