Dont be fooled by the M badge you see adorning the 5-series on these pages. It’s got a 3-litre straight-six diesel motor under the hood and it’s a 530d, not an M5. The 5-series just went under the knife and, along with subtle changes to the exteriors, the 530d now comes only in an M Sport package. The older car looked similar to the less powerful 520d, but the new one’s visual cues clearly indicate that it’s the racier diesel version of the two.
Exterior updates include a slightly more pronounced front grille, chrome surrounds for the front fog lamps, updated front and rear apron, re-styled lower air intakes and slimmer, sharply contoured tail-lamps. The side turn indicators are now integrated with the wing mirrors. In addition to all this, the 530d M Sport comes with massive 18-inch M alloy wheels, a matt-black tail pipe and M badges on the door sills.
There are quite a few changes to the cabin too, the highlights being the fantastic new digital dials and the improved iDrive system. In Comfort or Eco-pro mode, the dials’ screen displays info in normal analogue format, but in Sport mode they flash a sporty red colour. The iDrive gets a larger 25.8cm display with a trackpad on the controller, making things easier, slicker and more intuitive to use than before. The rear entertainment system comes as standard, with two screens to keep the rear passengers occupied while the driver is having fun behind the wheel. The M Sport package also includes front sport seats which are large and very supportive. The rear seats are spacious and very comfy too.
The 530d is powered by the same 2993cc six-cylinder motor, but it now makes 12bhp more than the old car; torque rating stays the same at 55kgm. The kick in the back you get every time you floor the throttle pedal makes the 530d feel even faster than the figures suggest. This is a quick car, whisking you to ludicrous speeds from as little as 1500rpm in one hard, linear shove and it’s only when you look at the head-up display that you realise that you’re going much faster than you anticipated. Like most diesels, the action is concentrated in the lower reaches of the powerband, yet this motor is very free-revving and visits to the redline are pleasurable. With fewer revs to play with than a petrol motor, all the gears are in constant use and that’s where the brilliant eight-speed automatic comes in. It makes the most of the engine’s power and nicely smoothens out the torque attack that this engine produces. In Sport mode, it hangs onto revs longer, kicks down faster, and in Sport Plus, through paddle shifters, you can hold on to every gear and decide when you want to shift.
The 530d not only feels fast, the times we got confirm this too. It takes 6.11 seconds to reach 100kph, which is 0.5sec faster than the old car, and 200kph comes up in a very impressive 25.03 seconds. These times are thanks to the launch control the 530d comes equipped with, and are incredible when you consider that this car is quite heavy at 1.8 tonnes and has a diesel motor powering it.
The big disappointment is the steering, which simply doesn’t feel like a BMW unit anymore. It’s got a dead zone around the straight-ahead position and simply misses the feel that the old 5’s steering had. BMW has also gone softer on the springs, which results in a ride that’s a lot more absorbent, but leads to excessive body roll around corners. But when you consider that buyers in this segment prefer coasting rather than going ballistic around corners, it’s a legitimate compromise.
At Rs 57.90 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the 530d M Sport is priced really well when you consider what it offers. It’s got a strong engine, quality interiors and now looks and feels sportier too. It not only gives you brilliant performance, but, being a diesel, it doesn’t hurt your wallet either.