Friday, April 7, 2017

Bucket Seat: BMW 530i

After the launch of the Mercedes Benz E-Class last year, it brought about a change to the currently E Segment in the car market. They set a new standard in what is to be expected from cars in the mid sized luxury area and with that triggered other manufacturers to follow suit. BMW since then launched it's new 5 Series, dubbed the Business Athlete, the car showcasing some of the latest technology that BMW has to offer, some of which even it's bigger brother the 7 Series doesn't have yet. This was a direct message to its German counterparts to say that they mean business in this business aimed segment. 

What many don't realise that this is the most hotly contested segment in the motoring world, with every one in five BMW's sold worldwide is a 5 Series! Pretty impressive stats but it makes sense, it is the most versatile sedan in it's stable. A car with a business feel but has a sporty alter ego and with it being a substantial size, big enough for any family. Last weekend I found myself behind the wheel of the new BMW 5 Series, a 530i to be exact, wandering through the streets of Johannesburg. An area that is primed for this car and boy did it show off in it's element.  


When ever it came to the 5 Series, BMW tried to be a bit different, the car had to represent a certain type of individual, and appeal to a market that is very business oriented but yet had the looks to maintain that aggressive sporty nature that we're so used to from the German manufacturer. With the G30, they've nailed it one 100%. While there are similarities in design between it and the 7 Series, on closer inspection, you will find that it's not that similar after all. The G30 is the first BMW to have the iconic kidney grille extended and widen to meet the front headlamps. The car is longer than its predecessor but with a low stance, gives it that limo like feel. The small air outlet behind the front wheel tyre add's dimension and functionality to the car while straight lines cut across along to the back where the car is tidied up quite nicely with twin exhausts and large rear lights. The car does look quite menacing with the M Sport kit, the large 19" rims give the car presence. Moving inside, the car is stunning with high quality finishes and trimmings, from aluminium, leather and high gloss plastic making the car look both attractive on the outside and the inside.


As mentioned earlier, the G30 is bigger than the F10, both in length and width, offering more space to it's occupants. The interior borrows a lot from the 7 Series in terms of style and layout but has been adjusted to suit car and it's purposes. The seats are  ergonomically designed to give the driver and passengers the most comfortable ride in the car with options to add on massaging capabilities as well as optional extra seat heating and cooling functions. The car did come with electrical adjustable three memory setting seats. The dual air conditioning can be extended to the back as well as has an ionic feature with a fragrant dispenser should any unwanted smells make their way into the car. Even with the 19" rims, the ride quality is un-compromised on the bumpy roads of Johannesburg. Seeing that I spent most of my time sitting in traffic, it gave me time to appreciate the interior trimmings and finishes. With the M Sport pack, it came, according to the brochure, an "aluminium rhombicle with highlight trim finish in chrome pearl", whatever they call it, it looked damn good and very classy. Ambient lighting is throughout the car, giving the cabin and internal halo of such in a colour of their choice. 


While the 530i does slot bang in the middle of the petrol derivatives, I still think it's a pretty impressive engine as it offers the driver a bit of both from the other two on offer. The 3 litre 6 cylinder motor doesn't have the easiest job with the car being bigger car and more heavier, coming in at 2.2 tonnes, it's quite a weight to lug around but with the TwinTurbo power plant, it still manages to deliver an impressive 185kW and 350Nm of torque. With the dual clutch 8 speed M sport automatic gearbox, the cars responsive gear changes are so efficient, there isn't really a need to use the paddle shift. The adaptive driving modes have been updated, with the standard Eco, Comfort and Sport being tweaked to give the driver a better experience, in Eco and Comfort, there is a noticeable lag on take off, which soon disappears when put into Sport mode but the fuel economy does get affected by this switch. 


The car is loaded with some mind blowing technology and as mentioned previously, it has more tech than the 7 Series. From the digital instrument display that changes colour and form in the various driving modes, to the bigger infotainment display which is now dual touch screen and has a new menu layout that is much easier to navigate. Voice controls make it easy for you to get what you want and it is more responsive so you can talk to it normally and not slowly like you had to before, you can control just about anything with the voice control function and I loved using it as it made everything effortless, from making calls to changing the radio station. There is an option for you to have hand gesture control for various functions in the car, which this car didn't come with, which is a pity as I really wanted to try it out. The car had the BMW Connected drive which offers you a world of service from BMW at the touch of a button. The main party trick had to be the display key that came with the car, apart from being able to check vitals of the car as well as fuel range, it had the precondition setting which you could activate before getting into your car, which proved to be extremely handy in the scorching temperatures of the North West. There is another option to the key where you can park the car with the remote while standing outside! The car also is the first BMW to come with an active grille, the grille opens and closes while the car is running and off, ensuring nothing enters the engine bay while the car is parked, apart from being very clever, it's also very cool to see!


The boot on the BMW 5 Series is massive, while the rear wheels do compromise it a bit on space on the sides, it's deep enough to get 3 golf bags in as well as have some space for other stuff as well. Inside the car, there is loads of compartments for storage with the middle unit having a split hatch for easier access. The standard storage for the front passenger also houses the fragrant bottles for the ionic dispenser in the aircon.


Overall I think the nick name given to the G30 suits it to perfection, the car is the ultimate Business Athlete and testing it in one of Africa's busiest cities just proved to me even more why the called it that. It's a perfect balance for the working professional, offering them a great mid sized luxury sedan, packed with technology which they will use on day to day commutes, yet does not compromise on performance or luxury. While the price may be a bit daunting to many, one has to look at what the car offers compared to the others on the market and you'll find that there isn't really much competition, in fact, with the new 5 Series, one can say it's only competition is it's bigger brother the 7 series. 


 3.0 litre, Twin Turbo 6 cylinder
 Gear Box
 8 speed automatic with paddle shift
 Top Speed
 6.2  seconds
 R 850,000*
*Priced without extras and April 1st increase not taken into account.

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