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Old 8th September 2011, 03:56   #1
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Default BMW 530d : Test Drive & Review

What you'll like:

• Classic BMW styling. A timeless design, no more quirkiness
• 7 series quality, inside out. Actually based on the exact same platform
• Stunning performance, flexibility & refinement from the 6 cylinder diesel
• Immaculate balance in ride and handling
• Cutting-edge tech (8 speed gearbox, regenerative braking, full iDrive, HUD etc.)
• 5 star safety. 6 airbags & endless electronic aids. Outstanding brakes
• 5 year / 100,000 kms all-inclusive maintenance packages

What you won't:

• Large price difference over the very competent 525d. Are the additional gadgets and power worth it?
• Electric power steering. Drive is not as pure as the E60 on the limit
• Runflat tyres mandatory. No room for a space saver spare either
• Legroom about the same as the E60. No perceptible increase. Rear headroom at a premium
• E60 fans wont take kindly to the conservative styling

The 530d M-Sport:

Link to review (BMW 530d M-Sport (F10) : My pre-worshipped beast)

Last edited by GTO : 28th August 2015 at 11:55. Reason: Linking to new 530d review
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Old 8th September 2011, 03:57   #2
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Default Engine


The 525d and 530d both share the same 3.0L N57 straight-6 diesel engine. Though the block is identical, minor differences and tuning allow for the power on the 530d to be bumped up to 245 BHP @ 4000 RPM and torque to 540 Nm @1750-3000 RPM.

In terms of performance…let's get one thing out of the way. The 530d is amongst the quickest, practical ways of 4 door transportation in India. Power delivery is relentless, with 0-100 km/h taking 0.9 seconds less than the 525d, at 6.3 seconds (BMW's official timing). And that’s with diesel practicality! Keep the magic pedal buried in the floor and you’ll reach silly speeds before you even realize. The 525d itself is fast, yet the 530d takes diesel performance to an entirely different level, with an additional 41 bhp and 90 Nm on tap. The 530d can make even the most diehard petrol-head crack a wide smile. Torque is never at a shortage, making it light work to overtake fast moving traffic. This 6-cylinder is very revv-happy (for a diesel) and seems eager to pull till the redline. There isn't an audible exhaust note as such, but there is a nice snarl from the intakes when you get heavy on the gas. Like a muted diesel Messerschmitt that is further emphasized when shifting manually. Its far from loud, but it definitely is the meanest sounding diesel I've heard. One complaint is that there is a minor (0.5 second) delay when hitting the gas, before the car responds. Surprisingly, this still persists, even in Sport mode and even when you are manually holding a gear. Its not quite turbo lag, but feels like it has something to do with the throttle response settings.

Whatever the driving conditions, you won’t be left wanting for power. For your daily drives within the city, the 530d is tame. Negligible turbo-lag, great punch even at low rpms and a smooth shifting gearbox. Remember, the massive 540 Nm of peak torque starts at a low 1,750 rpms. And with the refinement, you’d be hard pressed to tell that it’s a diesel. For regular city commuting, nothing more than a slight nudge on the accelerator will be required. On the open road, this sports sedan (by Indian standards) is an Auto Bahn style cruiser that will make brisk work of getting to its electronically limited top speed of 250 kph.

That said, it must be added that the new 530d lacks the maniac nature of the previous generation (E60) 530d; power delivery is decidedly more linear with this here F10.

If there is one fault with this motor, it’s that (like all diesels) the action is over at an early 4,750 RPM. You cannot high-revv this car like say, the 535i. And because of the limited revs, in flat out mode, the transmission is fast working up the 8-speed gearbox.

These buttons let you switch between the Normal, Sport & Sport+ modes

When switching to sport mode, there’s a mildly noticeable firming up of the suspension, though its not a dramatic change. The body roll is kept in check better, with less back and forth motion.

The Sport+ mode is the same as sport mode, but also turns off ESP, so the car’s electronics interfere much less with what the driver is trying to do. Note: There’s no “Comfort” mode, as seen on some international models.

You can set Sport mode to affect both, the stiffness of the ride, as well as the transmission response, or just isolate the change to one of the systems.

Last edited by Rehaan : 12th September 2011 at 14:37.
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Old 8th September 2011, 03:58   #3
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Default Gizmo's and additional equipment

Additional Equipment

The 530d is the top of the line diesel 5-Series in India. It comes with the following goodies over and above what the 525d offers :

- Steering wheel with paddle shifters
- Sport mode selection
- "Full black panel" instrument cluster (explained below)
- Larger 10.2” iDrive screen (vs 7”)
- Head-Up Display
- GPS Navigation system
- Reverse camera
- 8” screens for each of the rear passengers + remote + 2 headphone outs
- Additional DVD player at the rear + 2 sets of A/V inputs

Interestingly, the 530d comes with more standard equipment than the top-of-the-line petrol 535i (in India)!

In the Drivers Seat

The 530d has a nicer looking steering wheel, though the buttons and functionality are exactly the same as the 525d. The metallic trim gives it a much more premium feel, and it’s a bit meatier to hold as well, especially at 10-n-2.

Paddle shifters are unique to the 530d. However, unlike the BMW 330i where either paddle could be pushed to downshift or pulled to upshift – these are the more conventional layout. Pull the right paddle to upshift, or pull the left paddle to downshift. Don't forget that you have 8 speeds to work through, allowing lots of opportunities for double-down shifting.

The 530d also comes with what is known as the “Full Black Panel Display”. Its basically an instrument cluster with a larger high-res, colour LCD display built in to the bottom half, as highlighted below.

This LCD display blends in with the “real” dials and numbers excellently. Its an awesome bit of innovation that adds a lot of versatility and functionality to the instrument cluster. For example, move the jog wheel on the steering up or down to switch radio stations or audio tracks, and a scrollable list of the next few items shows up on the instrument cluster just below the tacho. Another great little detail that vid6639 noticed is that the cluster backlight colours change from white to red based on ambient light conditions (since red is less likely to affect the driver’s night vision).

The cluster gets its name because it shows up as a completely matt black surface with no numbers or other indicators displayed whilst the car is off. You can tell if a car has this Black Panel Display by looking at the instrument cluster when its not active. If it has rings around the speedo and tacho that are complete circles, it does not have this display. The black panel display will have circles that are incomplete at the bottom, and therefore filled in by the LCD’s graphics.

The bigger 10.2” front screen does a much better job of filling up the dash, and avoids the side-paneling which looked out of place on either side of the 525d’s 7” screen. The additional width makes BMW's "split-screen" feature more valuable. For example, it can show trip data alongside navigation or music choice.

Navigation worked surprisingly well, and was useful for finding small streets in the midst of the crowded Fort area in Mumbai – as well as jumping from one national highway to another, via a detour. It is reported that BMW are using map information provided by MapMyIndia. However, on occasion the software might fall a bit short in terms of depth. For example, searching for “Shivaji Park” (a well known area in Mumbai) yielded no results – however, searching for Cadell Road (the road that passes through the area) guided us there without a hitch. In addition to the default route, alternate routes are plotted out and can be switched to easily – useful for fighting traffic intelligently.

Head-Up Display

HUD stands for Head-Up Display. A system that was developed for projecting information onto the front glass of fighter jets, so that pilots could see relevant flight data without taking their eyes off the sky. I’ve never used one before (either in a F-16, Corvette or BMW), but I always imagined that it would be a bit of a party-trick that most people would never use or find helpful in real life.

Boy was I wrong! I started to love this thing. It worked spectacularly well, whether at night or in the day. The text seems to float at the front edge of the car’s hood – about six feet away from the driver. This means that there's less need for the driver to keep adjusting the focus of his vision when glancing at the HUD – something that I was initially concerned about.

Naturally, it is much more useful on the open highway, than in bumper to bumper traffic. Zooming down the Mumbai-Pune expressway in the rain, with 540Nm of torque meant that speeds could easily climb to “I’m doing WHAT speed?” levels. The HUD helped keep that in check, without me ever taking my eyes off the road. Cruise control too can be represented on the HUD, displaying the preset speed as well as the current speed.

Another area where the HUD creates a brilliantly seamless experience is for navigation. The projected display shows the distance to the next turn, along with diagrams of the type of junction coming up, and a clear path/arrow showing you which road you need to follow through the junction. No need for that intrusive talking voice to keep muting your music and telling you where to go. Passengers won’t even know that you are being helped along your way by the bimmer – since the HUD is only visible to the driver, due to its narrow viewing angle!

The HUD is a full colour display, and it wont hesitate to get your attention with a bright red warning if you try to do something stupid like drive with the handbrake on. Similar to the instrument cluster backlight, the HUD text changes from white to a softer yellow as the ambient light conditions dim, and can apparently adjust for hazy conditions too. You can adjust the height (vertical position) and the brightness of the HUD graphics via the iDrive.

You can also select what information you want the HUD to show

The HUD can be turned on and off using this button

Reverse Camera Guidance

The 530d has a single wide-view reverse camera mounted on the boot, unlike the 525d which only has parking sensors. It also overlays lines for the maximum you can turn in each direction (shown in red), as well as your current trajectory (shown in green).

What’s especially cool about this system is the four colour-coded vertical planes (squares) that are overlaid onto the reverse camera’s view – informing you how near or far obstacles are. If the object is not close enough to be a threat, the plane is green; as it gets closer, the plane turns yellow, and finally red. Naturally, if there is no obstacle behind the vehicle, no plane is shown.

You can toggle guide-lines, vertical planes, audio beeps, camera brightness, contrast etc via the iDrive. If you turn the camera view off, the 530d displays the reverse sensor diagram of the car vertically (as shown on the RHS of the screen in the image above) unlike the 525d where the car was displayed in a non-intuitive horizontal manner.

Rear Entertainment

The rear of the 530d has the BMW entertainment package with tilting 8” screens in each of the front seat-backs.

The screens, in tandem with the wireless remote allow the passengers to switch between different sources for audio and video. When it comes to choosing a media source, you can choose whether the front iDrive has priority, the rear controls have priority, or if both are to be given equal priority. The center console packs a slot-loading DVD player, as well as two headphone out jacks, and two RCA inputs (one for each screen). The RCA inputs let you plug in an external video source, such as a portable media player or game console. Preferably something that can be powered by the 12v lighter socket below. Each screen has its individual on/off (I/O) button too.

The remote gives you full control, and emulates the iDrive like interface using its scroll wheel.

Here the rear passenger can choose the source of audio

A spoiler here is that the passenger seat on which the screen is mounted tends to vibrate (side to side) even on fairly smooth roads - if there is no one sitting on it. A medium speed cruise down Worli Sea-face and the well paved Bandra-Worli Sealink made looking at the screen quite irritating due to the vibrations. This was the case even after ensuring that the front seat height was set to its lowest position. An alternative fix would be to sit behind the driver’s seat – as that is always weighed down.

Another surprising omission is the lack of temperature controls at the rear (unlike some international versions). You'd imagine they would have great value in India.

The wheels and tyres are the same 225/50 R17 size and style as the 525d.

Last edited by Rehaan : 12th September 2011 at 14:41.
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Old 8th September 2011, 03:59   #4
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Default Other Points

Additional points on the 5-Series

• The wipers are not made to handle torrential downpours. Everyone who drove the car on a very rainy weekend made this comment. On manual mode, they just don’t go anywhere near as fast as you’d want. On auto mode, they do go faster (vehicle speed sensitive), but they still aren’t as fast as other cars at their maximum speed. Eg. 5-Series : 60 sweeps/minute, while cars like the Innova / Fiesta do 66 sweeps/minute. That’s a noticeable 10% faster.

• The serrated dial on the wiper stalk controls the sensitivity of the rain sensors – for the auto wipers.

• Hold the ESP button down for about 3 seconds. Dynamic Traction Control is now off, and “DTC OFF” pops up on the screen. Be careful!

• Phone pairing via Bluetooth (phonebook + headset) were a breeze with Jaggu's iPhone, and A2DP audio streaming was flawless with my Galaxy S - though it said my device did not support broadcasting the track names.

• Another neat feature is that when the AC is in AUTO mode, you can set the temperature (like any normal climate control system), but in addition to that you can control the intensity of the fan by using the fan-speed buttons. This works independently in both front zones.

• When you’re still getting to know the car, it can be frustrating because you (or your passengers) cannot access the owners manual when the car is in motion!

• Reverse gear is a bit aggressive. Its hard to modulate at very slow speeds.

• 7 outta 10 times, the doors would not shut completely. Perhaps this has something to do with the aluminum construction (less momentum?), or maybe it was just bad alignment on this car.

• The Auto Hold function can be toggled, however there is no Hill Hold function. The car will begin to roll back on a slope even when its in “D”.

• Auto Hold function, as well as Automatic Wipers need to be manually activated every time you start the car. Irritating, but its probably a legal requirement.

• Cruise control can be stepped up +/- 1km/h or +/- 10 km/h depending on how far you push the up/down toggle button. Very neat.

• The rear sun-shade button (placed below the window switches) was incredibly hard to find! I'm pointing this out since another Team-BHPian's ownership report mentioned this too. I guess we're used to the more conventional center console placement.

• Indicators tend to be a bit fidgety. There’s no positive feedback from the stalk and its hard to know what they are doing. They tend to turn off even after mild steering inputs, before you’ve made the turn.

• The swooping A-pillar does intrude a bit into visibility on turns.

Last edited by Rehaan : 12th September 2011 at 14:42.
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Old 8th September 2011, 08:30   #5
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Default Re: BMW 530d : Test Drive & Review

Good review! Am still dreaming about this car. I can't believe the stability of this car on the Sea Link in terrible rain, I thought I was doing 60, alas, it was almost twice the speed. It can unknowingly catch you out.

One point. Rear seat space is great for 4 but appalling for 5 with the rear console and hump. Another thing, never park the car with the hill holder. I took over car on the side lane and suddenly turned around to hand something to someone. My foot touched the accelerator and it nearly took off.
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Old 8th September 2011, 08:53   #6
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Default Re: BMW 530d : Test Drive & Review

Thanks for an awesome mouth watering review. Although you ruined my work day now since all I will do is dream of this car now . I absolutely love the HUD. Just showed the trick to my dad hoping that the gadget freak in him will get awakened. Alas his mind over-ruled any such reincarnation.
BTW is it possible to add the price too?
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Old 8th September 2011, 08:58   #7
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Default Re: BMW 530d : Test Drive & Review

Excellent review Rehaan. The F-10 series BMW's are outdoing the E-Mercs fair and square. I haven't been in a 530d yet but the 525d is a fun to drive car. Wonder what those additional horses must be like on that car.

Correct me if I am wrong but the alloys in picture above are the same ones that are offered on the 525d? Gallery pics.
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Old 8th September 2011, 09:27   #8
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Default Re: BMW 530d : Test Drive & Review

That's heck of a review,Rehaan. Brilliantly written. Kudos to you. The HUD's look brilliant too.

Wondering out aloud: The linear power delivery in the recent launches,they are done keeping in mind the urban commute? Case in point being the new Swift, the Figo and now this?
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Old 8th September 2011, 09:52   #9
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Default Re: BMW 530d : Test Drive & Review

HUD rocks.... The review was fascinating and felt as if I am in the cockpit .
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Old 8th September 2011, 09:54   #10
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Default Re: BMW 530d : Test Drive & Review

I can't stop drooling over this machine. Waaaw, superb to the point crisp review Rehaan not holding back the negatives of the fab car. The HUD seems to be quite a trick up its sleeve, surely it will be greatly useful while cruising on highways. Additionally it seems well equipped to be entertainment station.

The rear view cam and its features is damn cool. Guess, it completely looses the rear sensors that were there in 525?

What are the price points? Not that I am buying but good to know OTRs.
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Old 8th September 2011, 09:59   #11
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Lightbulb Re: BMW 530d : Test Drive & Review

Nice review Rehaan.

You seem to be the one testing all cars at the cool end of the wall. I envy you.

Originally Posted by Rehaan
The 530d also comes with what is known as the “Full Black Panel Display”. Its basically an instrument cluster with a larger high-res, colour LCD display built in to the bottom half, as highlighted below.
I don't like this at all. What's wrong with the good old Analog meters? This is too superficial! Doesn't connect with a driver like the real thing. I guess the analog meter is going extinct. Not too far when this 'feature' trickles down the segments. Just too bad!

Originally Posted by Rehaan
HUD stands for Head-Up Display.
Now, that along with an armada of analog meters is very cool to have.

Rehaan, how is the feel from the EPS with that heavy oil burner up front?
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Old 8th September 2011, 10:06   #12
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Default Re: BMW 530d : Test Drive & Review

Very Nice review and well this is the future car for me.
started to work hard to earn more to buy it ASAP
An IT Joe buys a BMW 5 Series in near future.
Almighty, help me.

I have read and seen photos infinity times, still peeking...
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Old 8th September 2011, 10:11   #13
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Default Re: BMW 530d : Test Drive & Review

Great review. This is 1 car i am desperately waiting to have alongside the Audi on an expressway or amby valley run ! It would be absolutely killer
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Old 8th September 2011, 11:15   #14
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Default Re: BMW 530d : Test Drive & Review

Excellent review. Wonderful writing. The HUD is a wonderful addition as well as the larger display on dash. Any other external differentiating feature other than the alloys?
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Old 8th September 2011, 12:07   #15
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Default Re: Engine

Originally Posted by Rehaan View Post

That said, it must be added that the new 530d lacks the maniac nature of the previous generation (E60) 530d; power delivery is decidedly more linear with this here F10.
Although I expected to hear this, I was hoping the F10 530d matched up to the E60's explosiveness. The F10 525d certainly didn't do so.
Lets hope the updated 530d engine(same as the x3 3.0d matches up to the E60 530d)

Great review ! I used my cousins 545i E60 with heads-up display extensively in Boston back in 2005 when BMW first introduced this feature. Although it was more fascinating 6 years ago as it is today, it's real utility is felt while using the navigation.
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