Growing up can be a good thing for the soul; you meet new people and make new friends while losing a few, face new challenges, making mistakes and learning the lessons makes a better person. Driving a BMW eighteen years ago for the first time gave me that same feeling of anxiousness and intimidation of meeting new people, but soon discovered that it’s not as bad as I once thought it would. Driving a brand associated with the successful reminds myself that this is something I can achieve someday, which driving the new BMW 530i M Sport gives an overwhelmingly warm and positive feeling in a mostly bashful and dark person as myself.
Having to experienced the older E28 520i and E32 730i was quite a privilege and did set the tone of how BMWs ride and drive, however having to bridge that rather large gap is almost like starting from the beginning with once acquainted traits now long gone. The premiumness is definitely there and you’ll instantly know what you’re getting into from its driver-centric cockpit.
Under the watchful eyes of now former design chief Karim Habib, the latest G30 retains the 5’s strong, dynamic proportions, precise contours and taut surfaces characterize the purist, athletic appearance of the BMW 5 Series Sedan.
The Hofmeister kink is the 5 Series’ prominent design feature and further accentuated by the crease line that surrounds the rear window graphic emphasises the powerful look. Adding up the swagger is the M Sport aero kit with front and rear bumpers and side skirts painted in body colour.
Flanking the broad signature kidney grilles – with active vents to optimise aerodynamics – are adaptive LED headlights that automatically adjusts to driving speeds. Besides having daytime running lamps and the signal repeaters, the headlamps come a list of clever features; they come with variable city and motorway light distribution, cornering lights, as well as anti-dazzle high beam assistant and Selective Beam monitors the presence of vehicles in front or oncoming traffic and adjusts the high-beam to avoid dazzling other road users.
The 530i M Sport rides on 19-inch M Light Alloy Wheels and wrapped in run-flat Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres. The wheels are slightly staggered where the front wheels are 8 J x 19 with 245/40 R19 tyres and the rear are wide 9 J x 19 275/35 R19 tyres.
Moving to the rear, the rear combination lamps are completely LED which provides bright and clear illumination to motorists following behind. And, in the sea of fake exhaust tips, the 530i M Sport is a sight for sore eyes as it comes fitted with proper exhaust tips.
Practical, spacious and sensible, you won’t find large LCD screens here instead the latest tech that is intuitively integrated into a rather conservative looking interior with plenty of interesting features waiting to be discovered.
Like in latest 7 Series flagship, the 530i M Sport features a dashboard consisting different layered surfaces assembled with a combination of hard- and soft-touch materials. On top of that, the Aluminium Rhombicle interior trim does serve as a good visual contrast from the plastic and animal skin.
Of course, all of the buttons and switches are within reach and provide good tactile feel and are located where you would expect them to be. Like the automatic 4-zone climate control interface with a dedicated LCD touchscreen, the touch bits allow fan speed adjustments on both sides and access into the climate settings menu in the iDrive screen above providing additional options.
But it is not all touchscreens in the 530i as the interface has a good mix hot keys to access instantaneous air circulation management and rotary dials to turn up and down the temperature on both sides.
The rear passengers also get their own climate zones on each side allowing separation of temperature zones, however the fan speed is shared though. There’s also an option to switch airflow direction and Max AC during really hot days. Keeping the sun out are mechanical roller sunblinds located at the rear side windows and an electric roller sunblind located at the rear window.
The G30 seats are able to provide occupants with plenty plush and support. The 12-way power electric adjustable Cognac Dakota leather with contrast stitch seats is a joy sit and fit snuggly without feeling the side bolsters, which are electrically adjustable to suit your body.
When the going gets spirited, the front seats do provide genuine support and doesn’t get in the way of your elbows when your hands are at the 3 and 9 o’clock position. Also, there’s a retractable thigh support for drivers with long legs – one of my most liked features.
When it comes to ergonomics, BMW always gets it right; the 530i allows a wide range of adjustability from its seats and steering wheel. And regardless on how the driver sits, there’s plenty of visibility ahead and around, even with the centre iDrive LCD screen doesn’t get in the way, especially for drivers – like myself – who prefer the proper low down racecar driving position.
The rear passengers may not have the option to adjust the fixed rear bench seats, but rest assured that the level of comfort and support is very much similar to the front seats. There’s acres of head and knee room, so rear occupant space isn’t much of an issue. Also there is a retractable armrest for additional comfort during extended chauffeured journeys.
There are three 3-point seatbelts at the rear and ISOFIX guided anchor points as well. Boot space isn’t too shabby either in this sports saloon, where the 530i’s boot space measures in at 530-litres – that’s not a typo for sure – would be suffice to lug baggages around for at least a family of four.
When it comes to the infotainment system, the 530i comes with a 10.25-inch touchscreen with BMW Gesture Control, and with this feature, you’ll never be a Muggle ever again as you will be able to do simple hand gestures to interact with the infotainment system. For example, twirling your index finger clockwise or counter clockwise in front of the screen allows you to adjust the audio volume, and doing it while saying “Increasus Volumus” or “Earbleedus Maximus” would not be necessary – and no, those are not canon Harry Potter spells.
Coming home to the real world, the Internet of Things is truly magical and the BMW ConnectedDrive leverages on this; services including Intelligent Emergency Call that connects directly to BMW’s call centre with location and details for deployment of emergency services, Teleservices, Concierge Services and Remote Services. There’s also Wiki Local to provide interesting factoids of the locations you’ve passed by while on the road.
When you’re saving on your phone data, there’s a 20GB memory hard drive to upload your favourite audio files in, and Bluetooth and USB devices with smartphone connectivity is available when you have plenty of data to spare.
Sound reproduction comes from Harman Kardon premium Logic 7 surround sound system with 16 speakers with DSP multichannel amplifier with an output up to 600 watts. That said, 16 is a lot of speakers; there’s 7 x 25mm aluminium dome tweeters locates on the dashboard, front, side and rear; 7 x 100mm mid-range speakers located at the doors and the base of the C-Pillar, 2x 217mm subwoofers below the front seats.
With the equalisation and other sound settings in default, the Harman Kardon reproduces Lossless 64kHz FLAC files faithfully and easily handles hard hitting sounds with none of any of the interior panels rattling their way out. The vocals are clear, the treble crisp and the bass are impactful, all without overpowering one another, playing movie soundtracks with plenty of detail and well balanced. This is one of the best sound systems experienced so far.
It’s all new tech with old school fun in the G30; with an audience of only one, the 530i comes with a 12.3-inch multifunctional instrument display with an old-school flair displaying fixed position digital dials and being fully-digital, there are three different designs to suit the current driving mode each with their own colour scheme and graphic style of Comfort, Eco Pro and Sport.
Comfort mode largely retains the familiar rev counter and speedometer, while blue tones is the main colour palette in Eco Pro mode, in which the new EfficientDynamics and Bonus Range displays aid the driver to drive more efficiently with simple and straightforward visual cues.
Sport mode in contrast is recognisable by its red colours and includes an engine output display. The 12.3-inch display also allows Driver Assistance systems to be displayed, as well as list views of the entertainment, telephone features and navigation.
The one thing most well-off tech geeks will love and like with the current G11 7 Series, the G30 gets the BMW display key that shows various vehicle information and allows access to selected functions via the integrated touch display.
You can check the time, along with remaining fuel and current range, service notifications, central locking system, windows and glass roof, and pre conditioning feature to set the interior temperature all nice and cosy before leaving. There’s no need to replace the battery as the display key can be charged via a micro USB cable.
With the techy electronic bits mostly covered, we must now pay attention to what physically moves the 1,615kg saloon forwards and around; The 530i is powered by a two-litre four-cylinder B48 engine with twin-scroll turbocharging, direct injection, variable valve lift (Valvetronic) and variable valve timing (VANOS). This compact mill makes 252hp from 5,200 to 6,500rpm and 350Nm of torque from 1,450 to 4,800 rpm.
Mated to that is an 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission designed and built by ZF. Gearshifts are smooth and seamless with shift times of 200 milliseconds. Additionally, the eight-speed auto gearbox has the ability to shift in a non-sequential manner – dropping from 8 to 2 is possible in extreme conditions. With this many gears, the main aim is to achieve fuel economy; on paper, the 530i is able to hit 5.8 L/100km, however as tested, a lower 5.5 L/100km figure was recorded.
Despite grown slightly in size, the G30 isn’t a difficult car to get around. No matter how high or low the driver sits, there’s no problems in looking out and around with minimal blind spots. Even navigating through the tight multi-storey parking complex made around cars of the 1980’s is not a problem either thanks to ultrasonic sensors that warn you with audio cues and visual feedback of your immediate surrounding.
If you’re not too confident in your parking skills, or just being plain lazy, the 530i can very much park by its own; the same ultra sonic sensors ‘sniff’ out for available spaces at speeds below 35 km/h. Once the car finds the right spot, simply follow the simple instructions and you’ll be able to park hands-free, and can be overridden at any time. When backing out from a parking spot, Crossing Traffic Warning and Rear Collision Warning does its job competently especially in busy streets.
On Malaysian roads, the 530i provides a plush ride in COMFORT and ECO PRO drive modes with minimal road and wind noise at speeds under 160km/h, which you’ll get there even without noticing.
With the revised adaptive dampers, the G30 rides with poise with a sophisticated sense of isolation from the road beneath. Potholes and crevices still can be felt with the Sport mode’s sterner settings and large 19-inch wheels, yet each vibration is generally made to be remarkably distant, long-wave consistency in which the saloon keeps its occupants cocooned at all speeds.
The steering is light and direct, making navigation around junctions and U-turns without much effort from the driver. The switchgear like the wiper and signal stalks are easy to reach and operate. Finally, the signal stalk holds its position unlike the ones in older BMW models that returns to centre even when it’s on.
Let’s not forget that the G30 530i comes with adaptive cruise control with braking function that follows the car ahead below the set speed which makes crawling though slow moving heavy traffic with one thing less to worry about. There’s also Lane Change Warning that vibrates the steering wheel when veering over the lane markings or warning you when there’s a motorcyclist in the blind spot.
When it comes to performance, Bayernishe Motoren Werke delivers. BMW is like what Ferrari is to Formula 1 and Porsche is to Endurance Racing, which the Bavarian automaker has most of its successes in Touring Car racing.
Cutting to the chase, the BMW 530i M Sport has plenty to offer here as well. Weighing just slightly over 1.6 tonnes, – a featherweight in today’s standard – the G30 is able to reach naught to centennial in 6.2 seconds and tops out at its electronically limited 250km/h top speed as tested, and getting there is almost effortless with plenty of lateral stability.
The eight forward ratios in the ZF gearbox are well spaced out to complement the turbocharged engine’s low and broad torque band. Many still think that a 2.0-litre engine makes little, but the amount of motive force drives and feels a lot like a big capacity six-cylinder engine in past 5er models. To get up to that speed, engaging Sport allows a more sensitive throttle and holds the gear for much longer.
In Manual shift mode, switching between ratios can be done via the shift lever or the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, and in the most extreme drive mode, the gear changes are much more quicker especially on the downshifts. Although not being a fully fledged M car, the 530i has a borrowed feature from current M badged cars, where the tachometer of the scarlet digital dials has a shift light sequence from yellow to red nested within the rev counter, indicating the perfect time to shift to the next gear.
The 530i’s capabilities manifested on the tight and winding road of Jalan Gombak which unsurprisingly the need to switch from Comfort mode to Sport is a prerequisite. The Sport mode’s more stringent body control is essential for carrying higher speeds through the multiple gradient changes. Sport mode in rival cars usually stiffens the suspension dramatically, but not so in the 530i.
The steering feels rich and crisp away from centre with good amounts of feedback from the front tyres without feeling overly weighted and artificial. The 530i feels less rear-driven than it does and benignly balanced, and the chassis’ goodness is made fully exploitable by the crisp steering rack with plenty of mechanical grip at the rear axle, especially when driven spiritedly at high cornering speeds.
Is it worth it? I think the RM388,800.00 (without insurance) asking price is pretty worth it. Think of it as a RM40 bowl of Shio ramen, hearty, luxurious, massive umami flavour, with complexity topped with simple ingredients that work. To put it into an automotive context, the interior is spacious and very well thought of; the built quality is top notch without evidence of corners being cut and being extremely complicated. The seats feel great to sit in which almost feels like sitting on air, and the ergonomics is well planned out easily catering to different body types.
Driving dynamics and enjoyment is second to none in all BMWs, and the 530i M Sport is no exception. With its poised and isolative suspension that hits the right balance between comfort and body control with a meaty steering rack are the right components for an engaging driving experience, and for an auto manufacturer that has many successes in ‘Tin Top’ Touring Car racing championships, BMW definitely knows their onions.
+ Premium atmosphere
+ Solid build quality
+ Unfussy infotainment system
+ Powerful audio system
+ Easy and engaging to drive
+ Frugal fuel consumption
BMW 530i M Sport
Price Msia: RM388,800.00
Engine: 1,998 cc Turbocharged Four-Cylinder
Fuel Economy: 5.5 l/100km (Tested)
Transmission: 8-Speed Steptronic Automatic