From £35,8359
Arguably not the plushest executive car, nor the sportiest, but our UK drive shows a breadth of ability that defines the BMW 530d M Sport a class act

Our Verdict

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What is it?

When I were a lad, E-numbers were bad. I can still hear my mother telling my father ‘Don’t give him that, or he’ll be ripping down the curtains and setting the shed ablaze again’. Perhaps I was just a difficult child. 

Anyway, I was thinking: not all E-numbers should be avoided. In fact, some, such as E12, E28, E34, E39 and even E60, are well worth gravitating towards. These are model numbers for generations of the magnificent BMW 5 Series, so the new G30 – they’ve dropped the ‘E’ prefix in the model name now – has ‘H’ for heritage to live up to. 

Especially, as the previous 5 Series, the F10 was, well, a little unloved. It was a solid thing – perhaps too solid, as its portly kerb weight suggested – and arguably a little dour looking as well.

Apparently, BMW itself was aware of this, because the new car is visually slinkier, plus lighter – by up to 100kg. That decrease didn’t involve the fancy carbon-composite chassis implants that the current 7 Series employs, but instead was achieved using high-strength steel and more aluminium in the suspension and body alike. 

BMW says there’s no single, defining area where the weight was shifted, just little bits here and there. The result is less un-sprung mass, better torsional rigidity, improved ride and handling, and, of course, enhanced performance and efficiency.

What's it like?

Let’s begin with its beating heart: the bi-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six diesel. Now, we know there is a potential war on diesel, but right now this EU6 compliant engine is legal tender in London, Luton, Leatherhead and any other UK city you care to mention. So, assessing it on that basis, its outputs of 261bhp and 457lb ft, coupled with an average 60.1mpg and 124g/km of CO2 look appealing against the quicker, but decidedly thirstier 540i petrol. It blows away the Mercedes E 350 d and Jaguar XF 3.0d V6 S, for that matter, too.  

And this car isn’t slow. In fact, it’s so strong through nearly all of the rev-range that you get the feeling it would feel just a quick if pulling a glacier, at least until that onslaught of power and twist subsides at around 4000rpm. This, twinned with the superb eight-speed ZF auto ‘box that picks the right gear and slithers into it without you noticing, makes it an effortlessly easy car to cover ground in.

Choosing your G10 5 Series’ suspension set-up is a heck of a lot trickier than it was in 1972, when the original was launched. There’s standard passive, M Sport passive, Variable Adaptive Dampers (VDC), Adaptive Drive with active anti-roll bars and Integral Active Steering (IDC), which steers all four wheels. 

Don’t panic, though, because having sampled pretty much all of them, there is an easy default: select VDC. Without it, the ride is needlessly fidgety on the motorway, but with it (and it uses the same settings regardless of whether you go for an SE or the M Sport) it transforms the ride brilliantly. Even with our M Sport’s 19in wheels and Scalextric-thin tyres, the 530d floats along like a lilo on a pool, with only the occasional thud if the tyres drop down a particularly large hole. Being so wide, they do create more road roar than the narrower tyres you get on an SE, but it’s still a sublime cruiser.

BMW dedicated itself to improving steering feel in the new 5. Certainly the weight build up is considerably better around the straight-ahead now, although its fair to say a Jaguar XF still has the more natural and incisive helm. Our car didn’t have IDC fitted, which is a worthy option if you appreciate a quick turn-in, but nevertheless the G30 feels so much more nimble than the F10 that you genuinely believe its maker's claims concerning reduced mass.

It’s only the thick windscreen pillars, which blot your vision through corners, that spoil the fun on a sweeping back road. Otherwise this car displays superb balance and body control, and even with the dampers tautened in Sport mode there’s enough compliance left to cope with troublesome peaks and troughs. Again, the XF is sharper still, but for offering a fine compromise between comfort and fun, the 5 Series is about the best there is.

In terms of interior quality, though, it knocks the XF in to touch. Effectively the 7 Series' architecture has been shoehorned into a smaller space, so it looks smart with choice materials, crystal-clear displays for the 10.25in main screen and digital instruments, as well as a sense of dependable solidity. Some might see it as another prosaic BMW design, and argue the E-Class's more fanciful style delivers a greater sense of luxury, but that's a personal thing. No arguing that it works well, mind; it packs plenty of of tech – gesture control, a night vision camera, on-board wifi, a concierge service and massaging seats are just some of the features available - but, after a little familiarisation, you'll find it perfectly easy to use.

Space in the front is fine for anyone tall. Rear seat leg room is roughly what you’d find in the equivalent E-Class, and it’s only really the Volvo S90 that offers substantially more. At 530 litres, the boot is on par with its rivals, although its various contours, to an extent, reduce its effectiveness when carrying large, square objects.

Should I buy one?

First drives are a snapshot in time; we don't predict the future, merely report the facts. The future of diesel versus petrol isn’t under discussion here, the BMW 530d M Sport is. And today, with the facts as we know them, it’s an absolute corker. 

The engine is peachy, delivering sensible running costs along with prodigious performance. As with its rivals, you need to pay extra for an adaptive suspension set-up to make the 5 Series really work, but when you do, it strikes a near perfect balance between an E-Class’s comfort and an XF’s dynamics. For a car to lap up many miles in, it’s extremely hard to fault.

BMW 530d M Sport

Location Hertfordshire; On sale now; Price £47,135; Engine 6cyls, 2993cc, diesel; Power 261bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 457Ib ft at 2000-2500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd auto; Kerb weight 1715kg; Top speed 155mph; 0-62mph 5.7sec; Economy 60.1mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 124g/km/24%; Rivals Mercedes-Benz E 350 d AMG Line, Jaguar XF 3.0d V6 S

Join the debate

Comments
47

2 March 2017
". Now, we know there is a potential war on diesel, but right now this EU6 compliant engine is legal tender in London, Luton, Leatherhead and any other UK city you care to mention." Yes Autocar we know how you love diesels so much. But your own Throwback Thursday article made it clear. It is dirty, as dangerous to human health as asbestos or mustard gas and that has not changed EU6 or not. In less time than the average 3 to 4 year leasing arrangement this version of the G30 will not be welcome in London, Manchester or Birmingham. The 530e will be as will the 530i. Why is Autocar still pushing diesels when the truth is they are killing people? Also the word you were looking for to describe the F10 is "dour". Not "dower". Terrible journalism and irresponsible too.

2 March 2017

Thank you for pointing out the (hopefully) single spelling mistake. We are but human, and I have now corrected it.

As for your point on diesels: we are not, or at the very least, I am not obsessed. But until someone actually bans them, and they continue to offer the best balance of performance and economy, it would be irresponsible of us not to mention them, wouldn’t you agree?

It’s a point I did try and make in the copy, which included not ignoring the diesel question and providing the link to our musings on the subject, but you seem to have missed that. Please try and understand we have to review what is given to us, and not pretend things simply don’t exist.

2 March 2017
[quote=spqr]". Now, we know there is a potential war on diesel, but right now this EU6 compliant engine is legal tender in London, Luton, Leatherhead and any other UK city you care to mention." Yes Autocar we know how you love diesels so much. But your own Throwback Thursday article made it clear. It is dirty, as dangerous to human health as asbestos or mustard gas and that has not changed EU6 or not. In less time than the average 3 to 4 year leasing arrangement this version of the G30 will not be welcome in London, Manchester or Birmingham. The 530e will be as will the 530i. Why is Autocar still pushing diesels when the truth is they are killing people? Also the word you were looking for to describe the F10 is "dour". Not "dower". Terrible journalism and irresponsible too.[/quote] Spqr we all know your obsession with your false claims on diesel. Yet again I point out that no UK city has plans to ban diesel cars. It is true that London is going to charge an extra £10 per day on top of the congestion charge for those cars older than about 10 years old both petrol and diesel. Your determination in peddling your propagander is just pitiful, go seek help for your mental condition.

3 March 2017
"The future of diesel versus petrol is not under discussion here, the 530d is" Why is that so hard for you to understand? Did you bother to read the article? It reports on a new car. Get over yourself and grow up.

3 March 2017
There are no safer exposure levels for asbestos or mustard gas. If you are exposed to either you need RPE, protective clothing and decontamination if exposed to either. There are exposure limits for diesel fumes. There is no comparison between diesel fumes and either asbestos or mustard gas. Perhaps a more apt comparison is around exposure to flour dust or other dusts from natural products. If you want to create hysteria at least put some scientific rigour behind it. Try Google Scholar or the HSE COSHH sites. I suppose the tinfoil hat sources are more fun though.

3 March 2017
Oh dear, you clearly havent got a clue what youre talking about.

3 March 2017
(thats directed at spqr)

3 March 2017
Comparing diesel with mustard gas on a car such as a 530d, as one commentator has done, is unhelpful. The kneejerkers pushing for a blanket ban were the same kneejerkers promoting diesels in the first place. Diesels kill, yes; but an understanding of the science before making blanket assertions is useful (and perhaps a little unfashionable in this alternative-truth era). I’ll save myself the bother and simply point you to The Economist's article entitled, "The dieselgate dilemma". In sum, what it boils down to is this: without the appropriate cleaning technology, diesels emit dangerous levels of nitrogen oxides and particulates; as the appropriate tech is both bulky and expensive, they are particularly impractical for smaller vehicles, which lack physical capacity and whose lower sticker prices render the tech too costly. The larger and more expensive the vehicle, the easier it is to easier it is to install and to absorb the cost. In other words, it is smaller diesel vehicles that are the killers. Since most diesel vehicles in cities are small, that is why we have elevated readings of the killer nitrogen oxide gases. The upside is lower (global warming) CO2 emissions – but for city dwellers, this is an acceptable trade-off (unless CO2 leads to rising sea levels and, hence, greater risks of flooding). The key data that motoring journalists are not yet comparing - and which surely they must do - are NOx, particulate and CO2 emissions between different vehicles. The trick is for some clever boffin to come up with some sort of correlative “polluter index” that takes account of all of this. (And don’t automatically think your conscience is clean by going electric; the full life cycle of all cars has negative side-effects for the whole planet – as does access to things required for batteries (e.g. cobalt), which may require child slavery for its procurement.) Other than this, the 530d is a very fine car indeed.
Besitz Belastet

2 March 2017
So let's get this right.....you're saying the German Empire missed a trick back in 1917. All the Jerry artillery had to do at Ypres was spray a bit of DERV across no-mans-land and that would have been it....! Have a word.

2 March 2017
You drive a diesel Porsche don't ya Cobby. Lemme guess. Cayenne?

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