Between the F10 BMW 5-Series and W212 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, I’ve always fancied the Bimmer a little more than the three-pointed star. Some called it fat, but I prefer to think of it as big and beautiful. You see, the F10 had the presence the W212 simply lacked; almost like a mini 7-Series if you will, without being over the top with it. It struck the perfect balance between class and presence; just about everything you’d want in a premium executive sedan.
When the long-awaited G30 was unveiled, I was left… hanging. It’s a little leaner and more athletic than before, with the M Performance kit being the icing on the cake yet I simply can’t help but think that the G30 5-Series looks just like a bigger 3-Series.
It has lost that sense of elegance and sophistication befitting of someone who has worked hard climbing through the ranks. Just park one next to a smooth-looking W213 E-Class (or even an Audi A6) and you’ll catch my drift. But for someone looking for a bigger 3-Series, does this Business Athlete live up to its name? We took the G30 BMW 530i M Sport out for a spin to find out.
Before we dissect the car in detail, here’s a disclaimer: our test unit is the fully-imported model that came fitted with a range of M Performance parts including the 20-inch Double Spoke 669M Bi Colour alloys wrapped in low profile Pirelli P Zero run flat tyres (245/35 front; 275/30 rear) and a host of other carbon fibre bits. The M Performance parts add up to a total bill of RM72,717.
|Name||G30 BMW 530i M Sport (CKD)|
|Engine||1,998cc; inline-4 with BMW TwinPower Turbo|
|Max Power||252 hp @ 5,200 – 6,500 rpm|
|Max Torque||350 Nm @ 1,450 – 4,800 rpm|
|0 – 100 km/h; Top Speed||6.2 seconds; 250 km/h|
|Price (OTR without Insurance)||RM388,800|
The B48 2.0-litre Engine Hits All the Sweet Spots
Motivation comes from a modest 2.0-litre four-cylinder BMW TwinPower Turbo engine that dishes out 252 hp and 350 Nm of torque. An eight-speed ZF automatic is tasked to send drive exclusively to the rear wheels so if you swear by an FR with inherently good balance, the 530i will live up to that.
From standstill, the 530i gains momentum in a drama-free fashion partly due to its smooth shifting slushbox. That is not to say the Bimmer is lethargic because its century sprint takes only 6.2 seconds, onwards to a limited top speed of 250 km/h. Pedal to the floor and the 2.0-litre engine is eager to scream all the way to its 6,500 rpm redline and by fourth gear, you’d already be pulling illegal speeds.
Around the bends, the little four-potter is punchy enough to pull you out from a bend without the slightest struggle. Turbo lag is noticeable if you’re insensitive with your right foot, but nothing to upset your upbeat rhythm up the twisty roads of Genting Highlands. On the other hand, if you’re the type to be chauffeured in, the ZF-sourced automatic shifts through all its eight cogs like a hot knife through butter, providing the smoothest power delivery in its segment.
It’s a Proper Ultimate Driving Machine
BMW had managed to shave 100 kg off the G30 from the F10 while maintaining a near perfect 51.5:48.5 front to rear weight distribution, translating to a truly dynamic driving machine. The benefits of BMW’s diet plan were evident from its eagerness to switch directions and turn-in precision. Its newfound lightness combined with one of the most communicative steering wheels (but not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing) in the market, make for an extremely positive experience behind the wheel.
Body roll was minimal, way better than the E250 and mechanical grip was abundant; although I suspect the ridiculously-wide and sticky Pirelli rubbers played a big part. If you so dare thread the limits of this executive sedan, its traction control kicks in right before you overcook it – saving your pride and ego from sliding into the ravine.
The Blue-painted brake callipers complete the whole package by offering decent stopping performance. The pedal does have longer pedal travel than I would’ve liked but then again this is no M5 so I can settle for this. You can opt for the BMW M Performance Sports Brake that comes with ventilated and perforated lightweight brake discs with better thermal capacity and greater braking performance under extreme conditions. However, that will set you back a pretty penny at RM23,557.70. Surely that is a little overkill for a car with just 252 hp.
They Threw Ride Comfort Out of the Window
What was BMW thinking when they shod the standard 19-inch M lightweight alloys with 245/40 R19 (fronts) and 275/35 R19 (rear) profile run flat tyres? I mean, the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso V12 we tested before had taller profile tyres at 245/35 R20 (front) and 295/35 R20 (rear)!
Over lesser bumps and humps, the suspension does its best to absorb all the undulations but because there is so little rubber on the rims, the car will send a jolt through your spine if you’re not delicate with your way around our roads. Our test unit with its 20-inch alloys just made matters more apparent but you know what they say, “Janji Gaya”.
It is a shame really, because the M Sport suspension with Dynamic Damper Control displayed superior damping capabilities even in its sportiest setting; almost air suspension like but the oversized wheels and thin rubbers just brought down the overall ride quality. Perhaps thicker rubbers would do the trick.
Not Quite the Interior You’d Expect
A glance on the spec sheet will tell you that the 530i M Sport is as well-equipped as it gets – 12.3-inch fully-digital instrument cluster, 10.25-inch iDrive system, GPS Navigation Professional, four-zone climate control, 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system, panoramic sunroof and 11-colour ambient lighting.
However, upon closer inspection, the cabin does not give you that feel good/wow factor as some of its main rivals would. The leather seats for example, are not of the highest quality compared to Mercedes-Benz’s. Don’t get me started on the Volvo S90 that comes with Nappa leather as standard. Its 11-colour ambient lighting pales in comparison to the 64-colour choice on the E-Klasse. That said, if putting on a show is your main concern, just whip out the BMW Display Key and I guarantee it’ll make your friends go green-eyed.
Don’t go too Crazy with the BMW M Performance Parts
Our test unit gets a little more aggression thanks to the BMW M Performance Parts that can be optioned ala carte. The front splitter, wing mirror caps, rear spoiler and diffuser are all genuine carbon fibre items which will set you back a pretty hefty sum.
If you tick all the options to have your car look as mean as this, prepare to fork out an additional 20 percent of the car’s selling price – such is the price of beauty. You can read our in-depth breakdown of the M Performance Parts here.
Is This Car for You?
If you’re the type who prefers to be behind the wheel than in the back seat, the 530i would put a smile on your face more so than its other German rivals. For those who are stepping up from a 3-Series, you won’t face too much disparity in terms of driving dynamics. It will take twisty B-roads like a champ and will ferry your friends and family in comfort – provided you go easy on the rough patches.
For those who are looking for a comfortable cruiser to ferry you and your passengers in supreme comfort, you should probably look elsewhere. Also, if you can’t justify its RM388,800 asking price when you can have the much more luxurious (and powerful) Volvo S90 T8, perhaps you should wait for the soon-to-come 530e plug-in hybrid which will be supplemented with locally-assembled hybrid tax incentives that should knock down a couple of grand.
Will I Buy it?
If I am at a stage in life to be able to afford a sub-RM400k car, it would be highly dependent on which end of the spectrum I stand – to impress others or to be happy. If I were to impress everyone and anyone who steps into the car, the Mercedes-Benz E Class with its 64-colour ambient lighting and the widescreen cockpit would be my prime choice.
But today, I’m feeling a little selfish. I would have the 530i in Alpine White, the full range of M Performance Parts sans the tacky door stickers and harass E-Classes wherever I go.