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BMW 528i 2010 Review

EXPERT RATING
6

Back in the dim dark past, the BMW 528i was a top-end model - as a car nut kid I always thought the number sequence had a nice ring to it. So when the key fob to the entry-level petrol model were handed over, it was something of a step back in time.

Dressed in "Imperial Blue" metallic paint with what BMW describes as "Dakota Oyster" leather interior trim, the new-look Five has emerged from the styling wastelands and is a nice looker again.

VALUE:

For a tickle under one hundred thousand before you get plates and hit the road, the features list needs to be good - cruise control with brake function, bi-xenon headlights (adaptive and high-beam assist systems are both optional), fog lights, electrically adjustable and heated exterior mirrors, electro-chromatic interior mirror, rain sensing wipers and automatic headlights are among the standard fare.

The driver gets head-up display (which polarising glasses don't like), plus there's also ambient lighting, climate control, Bluetooth phone link, satnav and sound system (with the larger screen that's part of the Navigation System Professional for an extra $1600) with CD and USB port (which won't charge an iPhone when hooked up for music), a multi-function sports leather steering wheel and electric lumbar support for driver and front passenger.

There's some powered seat adjustment but the bulk of the test car's adjustment was manual - which is poor given the pricetag.

For a tickle under $100,000, the 528i features list was padded with options putting the as-tested pricetag up over $112,000 - among them is an extra $500 for the Sports Automatic Transmission with gear shift paddles, upgraded climate control for $800, a $3200 glass sunroof and the Park Assist system for $1600.

There's a no-cost option for 17in wheels, which ups the profile from 45 to 55 and narrows slightly.

TECHNOLOGY

Some will like the high-tech one-up-manship feel of having eight ratios on offer from the (optional) sports automatic transmission with paddles on the steering wheel, but the sport mode on offer does a good enough job to make the paddles an indulgence.

The electrics of the 5 are fed by brake energy regeneration, which reduces power supply loads on the engine.

Some of the other clever stuff - which adds more than $2000 to the price - on the 5 includes the parking cameras and sensors, which offer a view of the car's surrounds, making close-quarter work in carparks a doddle.

The Dynamic Damper Control system ups the ask by $2650 but is probably one of the more worthwhile options on the list, giving the driver some handling bias when required - normal mode is a good all-round set-up, which has given back some ride quality to the BMW mid-sizer.

That said, the runflats still pick-up and transfer more than they should from small bumps in the road, something that dropping back to the smaller-diameter alloys might reduce a little.

DESIGN

Certainly more handsome than it's predecessor, the new 5-Series looks less startled and more cohesive.

The interior space is not as good as the exterior suggests, calling it snug is being generous. Four average-sized adults might be comfortable but sitting behind my own 190cm driving position, the leg room in particular was tight.

SAFETY

Active safety features abound, ranging from active front headrestraints, stability and traction control, runflat tyres, anti-lock brakes and corner brake control.

The cabin has dual front and side impact airbags for the front driver and passenger, as well as full-length curtain airbags.

DRIVING

A prestige cruiser, the 528i has an almost calming influence for the driver - the optional adjustable suspension's normal mode is the best for most road conditions, with comfort being a little too soft - and almost wallowy - on some undulating road surfaces.

At first glance, the six-cylinder engine's numbers don't suggest it will deal with the car's girth, but it is better than expected.

The three-litre six sings when required - as most Beemer engines do - and teams well with the eight-speed transmission, although it seems a little excessive to have eight ratios, given the engine revolutions at cruise are similar to previous generations.

The Sport and Sport Plus modes tighten the suspension up substantially and the 528i feels almost nimble, suggesting the more powerful Sport models will be entertaining machines with this feature.

The 528i is an enjoyable drive, but at a more genteel level.

It's a little tight for a tall driver - particularly if there's any need to accommodate a rear passenger comfortably - and the absence of full electric adjustment in a car wearing this sort of a pricetag is a bit rich, so to speak.

VERDICT

A well-crafted and handsome machine, the entry-level petrol 5-Series has plenty to like but falls a little short for space and some features on the options list that should be standard.

BMW 528i

Price: from $99,900 (as tested $112,870)
Engine: Three-litre 24-valve in-line six-cylinder
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power: 190kW at 6600rpm
Torque: 310Nm at 2600-5000rpm
Performance: 0-100km/h 6.7 seconds
Top speed: 250km/h (governed)
Fuel consumption: 7.8 litres/100km combined, 10.7L/100km on test
Tank: 70 litres
Emissions: 187g/km
Brakes: four-wheel ventilated discs
Dimensions: Length 4899mm, Width 1860mm, Height 1464mm, Wheelbase 2968mm
Track: fr/rr 1600/1627mm
Cargo Volume: 520 litres
Weight: 1655kg
Wheels: 18in alloys

Pricing guides

$19,884
Based on 36 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$14,500
Highest Price
$28,950

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
530d Gran Turismo 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $23,200 – 31,570 2010 BMW 5 Series 2010 530d Gran Turismo Pricing and Specs
530d 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $17,500 – 24,310 2010 BMW 5 Series 2010 530d Pricing and Specs
530i Touring 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $18,500 – 25,740 2010 BMW 5 Series 2010 530i Touring Pricing and Specs
530i Touring Sport 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $19,100 – 26,620 2010 BMW 5 Series 2010 530i Touring Sport Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist

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