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Germans do it better
- 2009 BMW 530i; 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, petrol; six-speed automatic; sedan - $116,824*
Electric glass sunroof - $3495; sports leather steering wheel - $300; Professional Package is standard on the 530i and includes: Preparation for Bluetooth mobile Business, Control Display with 8.8-inch colour monitor, Professional Navigation, TV function and voice recognition, Comfort access system, Head up display, Metallic Paint, Dakota leather upholstery, Fine wood trim.
By Nadine Armstrong
Claudia Schiffer, Karl Lagerfeld, Diane Kruger; there’s no denying that the Germans are a good looking, talented bunch who know a thing or two about style. In the automotive world, BMW follows suit.
Combine an innate sense of style with some impressive automotive credentials and you’re set for a very sweet ride, in this instance, the BMW 530i sedan.
Beautiful form and superb drive dynamics; the 530i stimulates all the senses, in fact the appeal of the BMW 530i extends far beyond its skin.
A 3.0-litre, straight six-cylinder engine and double-VANOS variable camshaft are the brains behind this ride. Producing 200kW at 6650rpm and 315Nm at 2,750rpm, the stately looking BMW 530i is no slouch when it comes to laying down some power.
We tested the six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, which is flawless. In automatic mode the electronic gear selection is seamless and fast to respond, or you can manually change gears sequentially, with similar pace and precision.
While the ride is incredibly tame and quiet, open up the throttle a little and the engine lets out a sweet sounding rumble as it delivers an almost unexpected dose of power with great spontaneity. BMW claim acceleration of 0-100km/hour in 6.6 seconds and a maximum speed of 250km/hour.
A city-based test route delivered an average fuel consumption reading of around 13.9l/100km, which is just a touch over the manufacturer’s claim of 13.6l/100km for the city cycle. The combined consumption is a much more reasonable 9.3L/100km.
The CO2 emissions are 224g/100km and the Green Vehicle Guide rates its environmental credentials as average, with a total of three out of five stars awarded.
The 530i serves up its power with extreme composure, and steering precision and agility under pressure is to be commended. BMWs active steering, standard on the 530i, ensures manoeuvrability is effortless at any speed.
Stretching 4841mm in length, a wheelbase measurement of 2888mm and weighing in at around 1540kg, the 530i sits glued to the road and its evenly distributed weight, a 50:50 axle load, makes for an agile and well balanced ride, no matter what the conditions. No cabin sway and no body roll, just beautifully flat.
The cabin of the 530i creates a luxurious cocoon of leather that protects passengers from the outside world. The noise, vibration and harshness of Australian roads that bring many a car undone, are no match for the insulation, suspension and handling of the 530i.
The cabin ergonomics of the 530i are thoughtfully designed and readily adjustable, which affords you the comfort to enjoy the luxury and technology on offer – not to mention the driving dynamics.
Sitting within the large car segment, over $70,000, the 530i is a strong sales performer among rivals such as the sales topping Mercedes Benz E-Class, the Jaguar XF and the Audi A6.
With a starting price of around $116,824, you expect the goods to stack up, and the BMW 530i delivers. On top of its magical engine and smooth on road performance, creature comforts and technological innovations are featured in abundance.
The softest nappa leather, high shine bamboo and aluminium combine to create a sophisticated and luxurious interior.
Seat memory, one of those things you can live without, until you’ve had it, is standard. Dual zone climate control, electric steering column adjust, cruise control, parking sensors, Keyless entry and engine start-up, auto lights, satellite navigation, heads-up display, rain sensing wipers, one-touch park brake, and the list goes on.
Then there are the smaller inclusions, such as two very sturdy cup holders that pop out from the dash - when cup holders work well, you notice.
If it doesn’t come as standard, you can be assured it’s available as an option, such as heated seats, lane change warning, high-beam assist and night vision.
The satellite navigation system in the 530i is one of the most simple and intuitive systems I have used. It’s quick to map a route and fast to recalculate should you take an unplanned detour. The 8.8-inch screen is of good resolution and easy to see from the driver’s seat.
The Heads-Up display, which can be tailored to feature a variety of display options, including navigation directions - is a very handy feature that is well executed in the BMW range of vehicles. The display sits at a good, visible angle for all drivers, short or tall.
Soft leather seats are a nice match to the high gloss dash and slick instrumentation. Knobs and dials are solid and smooth to roll and the audio system features the most up to date capability, offering complete integration with USB, auxiliary and iPod sources.
Audio, climate, navigation and communication components of the 530i can be operated through the consistently criticised iDrive interface.
Personally, I find the iDrive system quite intuitive and simple to operate. The eight favourites buttons located on the centre dash, which essentially act as iDrive short-cuts, are a great help to those lacking in dexterity and patience.
The second row comfortably accommodates three passengers and offers good visibility. The centre armrest folds down to reveal a handy lidded storage compartment.
There’s no split-fold for the second row, but the boot capacity is more than big enough to cope with a family size dose of luggage, swallowing up to 520 litres.
Safety is well covered and includes front, side and curtain airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and anti-lock brakes, which mean the BMW 5-Series gains a four-star ANCAP rating.
The BMW 530i sits beneath a slender, conservative looking body, which makes for an understated and modest presence on the road. Sleek, curvaceous headlights wrap around the front quarters which lead to a slightly more substantial rear end and large taillights. Its lines are smooth and the whole car conveys a sense of grown-up elegance.
A combination of good genes and automotive excellence make the BMW 530i a very tidy package; easy to enjoy and hard to fault.
*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer.
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go: