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Our Verdict

BMW 5 Series

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3 December 2010

What is it?

There are two separate pieces of 5-series news to talk about here, but unfortunately only one that we'll get to the bottom of. The first is the return of the 535d to the range, absent since the launch of the F10. The second, that it is now possible to buy a 5-series in M Sport specification.

What's it like?

Although retaining two turbochargers, the 35d engine has been comprehensively re-engineered and now produces 295bhp and 442lb ft of torque. Much as before, the car is available only with an automatic transmission, but the 'box now has eight speeds. The performance for a diesel saloon car is extraordinary; if anything, the claimed 0-62mph time of 5.7sec undersells the real-world, on-demand response.

Perhaps of more relevance, though, is that this new 535d is significantly more refined than the previous model, which could occasionally feel and sound slightly coarse. Why exactly is difficult to pinpoint; it could be the new engine and gearbox or simply because the F10 employs more sound deadening than its predecessor.

The biggest question, though, is whether you actually need the extra performance, given that the 530d is now such a competent and potent motor. For those deciding that the half-a-second gain in the 0-62mph time is worth the extra £3425, the consolation is that the 535d matches the 530d’s claimed economy figures and produces just 2g/km more CO2.

And so to the M Sport specification, which is available throughout the range at a cost of £3225 over SE trim. You can come to your own conclusions about the visual changes, which consist of new valances, sills, wheels and a bootlid spoiler on the outside and an M Sport steering wheel, sport seats, anthracite roof lining and aluminium trim inside.

As standard, M Sport also brings recalibrations to the suspension (springs, dampers and ride height). However, this is far from the end of the story, because it is possible to opt for the M Sport look but retain the SE suspension settings. And if (as here) you specify the £2220 optional Adaptive Drive pack (active dampers and anti-roll bars), the situation gets even more complicated. Because with Adaptive Drive, the suspension and ride height revert to SE specification, meaning this M Sport 535d drives no differently from a similarly optioned SE model.

So is it an option worth ticking? Sadly, that's not a question we can fully answer just yet, as we've not tried a passively damped M Sport 5-series. What we can say is that in SE trim, Adaptive Drive does improve the 5-series' composure and ride quality, and given that this is effectively what we've got here, the 535d M Sport is an extremely pleasant car to drive, if no more sporting than an SE, even if its styling might suggest it is.

Should I buy one?

With BMW offering such a broad spectrum of optional technology, selecting the optimal 5-series specification was already difficult, which the arrival of M Sport has now only made more complex. What's clear, though, is that a 535d M Sport with all the toys is an excellent executive all-rounder, if an expensive one. But it also poses yet more questions – mainly about the passive M Sport set-up. Watch this space.

Jamie Corstorphine

BMW 535d M Sport

Price: £45,320; 0-62mph: 5.7sec; Top speed: 155mph (limited); Economy: 46.3mpg (combined); CO2: 162g/km; Kerb weight: 1790kg; Engine: 6 cyls in line, 2993cc, twin-turbodiesel; Power: 295bhp at 4400rpm; Torque: 442lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox: 8-spd automatic

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Comments
31

8 December 2010

What an engine! I had a test drive last weekend in the snowy midlands and can confirm hat it's an absolute peach, if the claims about economy are true it will be unbeatable. I think the car looks better in the flesh (estate version prettiest of all), but along with the new A6, it plumbs new depths in terms of aesthetics.

8 December 2010

0-62 in 5.7secs ,i guess the 0-60 is around 5.3 secs lollllllllllllllll ,only bmw can make astonishing diesel engines ,total respect from a fan :)

8 December 2010

Two stories but only one write up - why? does the sport spec. none 535d not deserve comment?

8 December 2010

Like the engine but I'm not a fan of the M-Sport trim, just doesn't suit the 5-series IMO. I reckon a 535d SE with the alloy wheel upgrade is the one to have.

8 December 2010

[quote Roger Frost]Two stories but only one write up - why? does the sport spec. none 535d not deserve comment?[/quote]

Only one write-up because the car supplied had adaptive dampers, and on the new 5 Sport if you have adaptive dampers, you get SE suspension. So it drives exactly the same way as an SE.

The car that Autocar has not yet been able to drive is the Sport without adaptive dampers, in which case you get different Sport suspension settings.

9 December 2010

[quote J400uk]I reckon a 535d SE with the alloy wheel upgrade is the one to have[/quote]

X2

I have always said that it would be great to order an M-sport look, without the bone crushing ride. However, to that end, the 5 M-Sport pack is visually dissappointing, which I guess is par for the course with BMW's these days.

But that engine sounds awesome. If only I could have that engine, in an E-class. That would be sweet, it would be a Great engine and a nice looking car.

So is it worth having a sinfully boring car to have a terrific engine... not sure.

9 December 2010

Like the M styling, Love that engine.... 162g/km of co2 is amaizing for such power now it betters Jag's XF S 3.0.... Now what we need to know if the M sport suspensions is going to save this gen of 5 Series as a drivers car!

9 December 2010

But sadly its a worse car than its predecessor, forgot to mention they must have. j

9 December 2010

[quote Lupe]Now what we need to know if the M sport suspensions is going to save this gen of 5 Series as a drivers car![/quote] X2

9 December 2010

Is this a new thing with BMW, being able to have SE suspension with M Sport trim?

I notice that you can specify SE suspension on the Audi A1 if you're going for Sport trim, whereas usually with Audi you'd be stuck with sport suspension settings (I think). Maybe these manufacturers are getting the message at last...

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