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The Warsaw Voice » Society » December 21, 2012
BMW 530d Steptronic
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Bavarian at the Gate
December 21, 2012   
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The technically accomplished and stylistically appealing BMW 5 Series should signal a red alert to all executive-class vehicles, especially such long-standing rivals as the Audi A6 and the Mercedes E-Class.

The new BMW 5 Series has been intricately worked out to the last detail. Stylistically, it takes after the models of the 1970s and 1980s with their famous “shark” bodies, so called because of the predatory appearance their slender lines and blunt, receding fronts gave them.

The new BMW 5 Series has a muscular body 4,899 mm in length, 1,860 mm in width, and 1,464 mm in height. The shortened front and rear projections—that is the distance between the axle and the end of the body—coupled with the 2,970 mm wheelbase, the largest in its class, reinforce this impression, while the well-proportioned sideline lends a touch of elegance and lightness.

At first blush, the body brings to mind the company’s flagship 7 Series luxury sedan. This should come as no surprise as the automobile platform is a pared-down version of the 7 Series. In fact, take off the 530d badge from the hatch and you could just about fool anyone that it was a 7 Series. Coincidence? I think not. Even the interior and the dashboard bear an eerie resemblance to the larger model.

All BMW “cockpits” are in a class of their own when it comes to ergonomics and legibility. That of the new Series 5 does not differ from previous models in being focused on the driver. The quality and suitability of the finishing materials really stand out, although when I took a friend for a spin, he spotted a few minor flaws and some tacky plastic fittings in a few places—around the interior lights in the ceiling, for example.

You have to look underneath the hood, though, to see its best features. We test-drove a 3l/245 hp inline six-cylinder turbodiesel model that would have impressed even the most sports-minded driver. The car can accelerate from standstill to 100 kph in just 6.3 seconds and the top speed is electronically limited to 250 kph. The maximum torque of 540 Nm is available from 1,750 to 3,000 r.p.m.

The technical specifications put average fuel consumption at 6.1l/100 km. This just might be possible under laboratory conditions but, back in the real world, we notched up 10l/100 km during our test-drive. This is outstanding all the same given the size of the engine and the fact that the car weighs in at 1,725 kg.

The car is rear wheel drive and has an 8-speed automatic transmission with the option of manual shifting. The transmission works extremely fast and changes gears without the slightest jolt. The whole operation is so smooth that only the rev counter tells you what’s really going on. The test-drive car came with variable damping suspension to suit individual preferences. This lets the driver choose from Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport+ at the press of a button near the gearshift.

The pleasure of driving the 5 Series comes from the excellent handling as much as from the top-notch engine, gearbox and suspension. The car can be driven around town with literally one finger. Once you hit the open road, the higher the speed, the “stiffer” the steering system. This is vintage BMW. The company’s advertising slogan “The Ultimate Driving Machine” is well deserved.

Sad to report that all this pleasure comes at a cost. The new BMW 530d will set you back zl.240,000 and that’s before you start ticking boxes. The model we test-drove had a raft of optional extras like luxury seating, leather upholstery, a 10.2-inch navigation screen, an automatic transmission and adjustable suspension. This list—by no means comprehensive—is enough to jack the price up to zl.300,000. The price hasn’t deterred buyers though. Competition in the executive sedan segment has heated up.
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