BMW 530i M Sport – the only thing a BMW 5-Series can replace is itself

business Athlete

Certain design cues make pronounced promises; the Hofmeister kink, kidney grilles and the distinctive twin-circling LEDs in the headlights. Translated, it states that the car sporting these will conduct itself exceptionally along a winding tarmac snake. And when the numeric designation on the rump begins with a 5, it is mandated to do so with a generous measure of occupant hospitality as well. For the moment, BMW has but one chance to deliver — on the 530i M Sport (RM398,800) as the sole launch variant to fly the 5 Series flag in Malaysia.

The canvas starts off well enough, taking the form of a fantastically slimmed profile, and retaining much of the front-rear proportion and cohesive line treatment that made the previous 5er such a treat for the eyes. This one is adorned with almost the entire catalogue of M Performance Parts, including 20-inch bi-colour wheels and various carbon fibre attachments for a sporty visual impression.

On the inside however, the tone is slightly more austere. A diamond-patterned dashboard and door panel trim offer the fanfare, along with customisable ambient lighting, to complement a pragmatic switchgear layout and user-friendly infotainment system. As is hereditary, the focus on the driver is clear with a centre console angled ever so slightly toward the helm and an instrument cluster which turns amber in the fading light of dusk. In Sport Mode, the digital speedometer readout turns a tantalising blood red.

When the triple digits crash through said speedometer at even leisurely accelerator input, the real potential of the 2.0-litre becomes clear. The delivery gives little forewarning, but is linear enough to instill some white-knuckled excitement. Finding 100km/h in 6.2 seconds, the torque reserve of 350Nm kicks in at a low 1,450rpm with a horsepower count of 250hp. But a 5’s greatest hits are mostly conducted in a corner; with this one the rear end rotates around a bend in a manner reminiscent of the sublime E39 of the ‘90s. The precision of the electric steering has been honed, connecting to the driver via an M Sport wheel which feels perfect in the grip, almost sensuous under the fingers.

Truth be told, the expectation was that the 20-inch two-tone rollers and low profile tires would judder progress at the expense of surefooted turn-in and rubbery grip. They did not, which begs the question as to how much better the ride would be on the standard 19s. Adding to the Driving Experience Control is an Adaptive mode, which variably adjusts the powertrain and chassis settings according to driving style and also the road ahead (the latter utilising navigation data as input).

As a convenient extra, BMW offers a Display Key with the new 5 accompanying the standard piece; the former shows lighting and locking information alongside remaining fuel range. For our tropical climate, perhaps the most useful feature would be the climate preconditioning, activating the system either on demand or at a scheduled time.

It’s of little wonder that the new 5er is such an accomplished product. BMW has taken every endearing element of its predecessor, the aesthetics, performance and usability to highlight a few, and improved on the set but reached further into its own past for some lessons on driver engagement. Expectations come from consistency, and the all-new 5 series has done its lineage proud — delivering convincingly on its brief as the ultimate business athlete.

BMW

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Published September 16, 2017
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