My father is an unassuming chap. He’s quiet and he likes the simple things in life. Designer labels, fine dining and pretty much anything which could be categorised under ‘technology’, do little or nothing for him. It doesn’t matter if a TV is 36 or 52 inches, so long as there is football or golf on – he’s happy. He’s modest too because in the mid to late eighties he reigned as one of Ireland’s top amateur golfers; claiming numerous titles including the East and West of Ireland championships. He represented Ireland during one of our most successful periods in international amateur golf and he even won the Willie Gill Award – which is effectively the GUI Order of Merit for amateurs’ performance in the 5 ‘Major’ Championships. Yet if you were to ask him about any of it; he’ll most likely respond with a smile, a shrug of his shoulders and by saying he played “well”. That’s just the kind of man he is.
He likes cars and on 99 percent of my visits home, we’ll go out and he’ll give whatever car I’m driving the once over. He rarely says a whole lot and as a retired garda, he treats each and every car to the same suspicious investigation. It starts with a slow, anti-clockwise walk around; he’ll open the boot on his way past. You can gauge exactly how much golf paraphernalia it will hold just by how long he keeps the boot open. This is generally the point where the Aston Martins, R8’s and Mustangs begin to lose his interest. He’ll continue on to where he opens the rear, driver side door. Sometimes he’ll sit in but for no other reason than to confirm what he already knows regarding space or the lack there of. All the time he remains silent. Finally he’ll make it to the driver seat, where once again he’ll sit in, firmly gripping the wheel whilst his eyes take in the rest of the cabin. ‘How much?’ he’ll ask, before saying thanks, getting out and heading back into the house. And that’s it; inspection over. Press him for an opinion and he’ll generally respond with an answer that is about as insightful as, “it’s grand.” My father likes to play his cards close to his chest. However recently, that all changed.
“Now that’s a car I could fall in love with! It’s beautiful, you can keep your feckin Aston Martins; I’d take this every day!”
The reaction was unexpected. Not that BMW’s new 530d isn’t a thing of beauty but because this car had suddenly melted the iceman!
He is right though because this new 5 Series is a beautiful car. Hardly Aston Martin beating looks but I’d go as far as to say that the new G30 5 Series is perhaps the best looking 5 series yet. It’s certainly more attractive than the F10 version it replaces. The test car which is painted in Bluestone metallic and dressed in its M-Sport finery is a near perfect balance of sporty and understated.
It’s ever so slightly larger than the outgoing model. From the side, it’s clear to see that the cars wheel base has increased by 7mm but what is also obvious is that the passenger cell is set back quite far back which increases the cars sporty appearance. At the front, the familiar twin circular headlights now connect seamlessly with BMW’s trademark kidney grille. LED Headlights are standard, though this car was equipped with the excellent, optional Adaptive LED Headlights with BMW’s Selective Beam assist. The trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes are now arranged symmetrically on both sides of the rear.
It’s not all just about aesthetics though because the G30 is a very clever bit of kit too. The BMW engineers have worked hard to reduce the drag coefficient of the new BMW 5 Series Sedan by 10 per cent compared to its predecessor, in the process setting a new benchmark in the class with a Cd of just 0.22. All new BMW 5 Series models will now come with the Active Air Stream Kidney Grille. This system opens the louvres in the grille and lower air intakes when more cooling air is required, but otherwise keeps them closed to optimise aerodynamic efficiency. The Air Curtains in the front apron team up with Air Breathers to cut air turbulence in the wheel arches and channel the onrushing air effectively as the car pushes through it. Further improvements are realised courtesy of optimised trim and airflow-channelling elements fitted across the whole of the underbody, also reducing lift.
As you’d expect the interior of the new BMW 5 Series is made up of top-class materials – all expertly put together with lots of attention to detail. With the G30, the BMW 5 Series is rapidly moving into 7-Series territory. The digital binnacle, the key with built-in display screen, the gesture control infotainment system and the high end Bowers & Wilkins speakers are all borrowed from the 5 Series’ posh big brother. All that fancy tech even impressed the man who still uses a Nokia 6310i; but more importantly the standard level of equipment is something which none of the 5 Series’ rivals can compete with.
The sporty seats of the test car are standard on all M Sport models and in this case were kitted out in ‘Dakota’ Ivory White leather. Incredibly comfortable, the adjustable side bolsters offered even more support. Despite the sloping roofline, the new 5 Series offers more headroom for rear passengers than ever before. The cabin’s enlarged dimensions, particularly in terms of elbow and shoulder room mean that passengers, particularly in the rear now have more space to spread out, thanks to the increased knee room and extended legroom; while the optimised design of the door cut-outs makes getting in and out all the easier. Boot capacity has been increased to 530 litres. A big boot is one thing but it has to be accessible and in the new G30 5 Series the boot sill has been lowered and the boot opening made larger. This substantial increase in width to ensure that even bulky items can be loaded more easily than ever before. No problem with a couple of sets of clubs here so Dad.
BMW’s latest turbocharged straight-six 2993cc diesel pushes out 261bhp and 457lbft of torque. Combined with the standard eight-speed auto, it gives the 530d genuine performance car pace, with 0-62mph taking 5.7-seconds, or just 5.4-seconds when combined with the xDrive system of the test car. Depress the throttle and it surges the 530d forward with conviction, whatever the speed or gear. My father will be glad to hear though that it’s still very economical. Over the course of a combined driving cycle, BMW say the 530d will use 5.3L of diesel per 100km travelled – that’s 53mpg in old money. With C02 emissions of 138g/km it falls into tax band B2 and therefore will cost you €280 per year on motor tax.
Particular attention has been paid to reducing interior noise levels. The 530d xDrive is an astoundingly quiet and comfortable car, even on the optional 20” V-Spoke alloys of the test car. Road noise is non-existent and BMW’s SYNTAK sound insulation means the engine is virtually silent when cruising, but it retains its pleasing growl when driven a little more enthusiastically. On the road the 530d xDrive was incredibly capable despite its size and weight. Its ability to handle sweeping bends and to get the power down on exit was really impressive. In Sport settings the 530d feels stiff and the electrically assisted steering carries just the right amount of weight. The rear-wheel steering allows you to turn into corners more sharply than you’d expect. It’s a car which has the ability to switch between luxury cruiser and performance sedan in a heartbeat.
The 530d xDrive M Sport is quite the special car. Its engine is smooth and powerful. The ride is comfortable and refined. It’s stunning to look at too. It’s exactly what you expect from a 5 Series, but with this G30 model BMW hasn’t just met expectations; they’ve raised the bar to a whole new level. In fairness, they’ve had. Over the last few years BMW’s rivals have all introduced some great cars. The Mercedes E-Class, the Jaguar XF, the Audi A6 and the Volvo S90 are all fantastic cars in their own right but only the 5 Series could get my father to break character. That says it all to me.
Engine: 2993cc turbocharged straight-six Diesel
Max output in KW (hp) / rpm: 195 (261)/4000
Max torque in Nm/rpm: 620/2000-2500
Acceleration 0-100 km/h in s: 5.4
Fuel consumption (combined) in L/100km (mpg): 5.3 (53.2)
CO2 emission in g/km: 138
Tax Band: B2 /€280 per annum
Test Car Priced At: €90,736.97
5 Series Pricing Start From: €51,950