Mercedes-Benz E350d 2016 review: snapshot
The E350d sits at the top of the E-Class diesel line-up and costs $134,900.
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In these deeply unsettling times, it's good to know there are things you can still rely on. A human-shaped corn chip with a comb-over may be the leader of the free world, but the sun is still coming up each day, and BMW is still building its 5 Series, a rock-solid member of the Bavarian brand’s line-up for close to half a century.
The seventh generation (G30) version of the evergreen 5 Series arrived here in March this year, offering a choice of four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel models, with the 530e petrol-electric hybrid joining them this month.
As its name implies, the 530d is a diesel; the higher spec of two in the range. The 520d is powered by a (140kW/400Nm) 2.0-litre four cylinder turbo-diesel, while the car you see before you has a (195kW/620Nm) 3.0-litre in-line turbo six tucked under its bonnet.
This particular example also features the ‘Luxury Line’ package, a no-cost option bundle replacing the default M Sport treatment, and bringing a tasty suite of cosmetic and comfort extras to the party.
Competition in this part of the upper-luxury market is traditionally tight, with the other two members of the Germanic Three, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, pitching up high-quality, mid-size diesel contenders, with the likes of Jaguar, and even Maserati, also snooping around for a piece of the executive action.
It's time to find out if this new 5 Series has what it takes to climb to the top of an exceptionally steep pyramid, because buyers at this end of the market are far fussier than American voters.
|BMW 5 Series 2017: 530d M-Sport|
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
The 5 Series stands as a case study in smooth industrial-design evolution. Apart from a small hiccup in the noughties, when the board went crazy and signed-off on Chris Bangle’s ‘flame surfaced’ E60 version (anybody else loving that car now?), the mid-sizer has managed to remain cool and contemporary while retaining key BMW elements recognisable from the 1972 original.
Signature features like the ‘Hofmeister Kink’ at the base of the C-pillar, the two-part ‘Kidney Grille’, and a characteristic swage line dividing the car horizontally are present and accounted for, all morphed into a sleek, aero-refined 2017 version.
Speaking of aero, BMW claims this car is 10 per cent slicker than its predecessor, with a super Cd figure of 0.24 for Australian versions.
The 530d Luxury Line’s standard 19-inch alloys are replaced in this instance with optional 20-inch ‘V-spoke’ bi-colour rims, filling the wheelarches and bringing an air of racy aggression to the car’s stance.
The package also includes flashy chrome exterior pieces; specifically the window recesses, exhaust tips, front fog light surrounds, and the trailing edge of the front guard vents.
Inside, the carefully managed balancing act between form and function continues, with gently sweeping surfaces layering across one another on the dash, centre console and around the doors.
A 10.25-inch colour touchscreen stands proud of the dashtop, with crystal clear controls for audio and ventilation below. The dark, mirror-finished 'Fineline' dark burled walnut wood trim and sports leather steering wheel are part of the Luxury Line package, as is the perforated, and subtly quilted nappa leather upholstery.
What’s not so subtle is the ‘Ivory White’ trim colour. Striking on the showroom floor, it would be horrendously impractical in real life; it's like choosing white underpants the night after a serious curry. If you tick that box as part of your order, be ready for constant scuffs, grazes… and cleaning.
The 530d's driver and front-seat passenger luxuriate in a generous and suitably sumptuous space with plenty of storage available, including a decent glove box, door bins with big bottle holders, and a lidded box in the centre console housing multiple USB ports and a pair of 12-volt outlets.
There’s also a wireless charging bay just in front of the gear shift, which you can use to top-up the optional ‘BMW Display Key’, which oversees the ominous-sounding ‘Remote Control Parking’ function, which we’ll get to shortly.
Backseaters are provided with plenty of head and legroom (for this 183cm tester anyway), and the approach to ventilation in the rear is comprehensive. Vents and individual temp controls (including the optional seat-heating function) in the centre console, complimented by additional outlets in the B-pillars.
There are also map pockets in the front seatbacks, bottle holders in the doors, a fold-down centre armrest with two cupholders, handy flip-out coat hooks, and a pair of 12-volt sockets.
Boot capacity is a better than average 530 litres (VDA), and our three-piece suitcase set (35, 68 and 105 litres) slotted in there easily. Swapping them for the CarsGuide pram was a breeze, and dropping the 40/20/40 split-fold rear seat (via easy-pull handles at the top of the boot opening) means even larger loads can be swallowed without fuss.
But size isn’t everything, as any short friend will tell you. The cargo space has been well thought through and includes a first-aid kit, a breadbox-size locker box in the floor, a 12-volt outlet, cargo tie-down anchors and a handy carry bag hook.
There's a tight group of four main competitors swimming in the ($119,900) 530d’s section of the luxury sedan pool; Audi's A6 3.0 TDI quattro ($124,855), the Jaguar XF 30d S ($121,805), Maserati's Ghibli D ($139,900), and the Mercedes-Benz E350d ($134,900).
You can split hairs about this or that standard feature, or what is or isn’t included on any of these, but suffice to say they’re all comprehensively equipped. And the fact is, this 5 Series, by a hair’s breadth, wears the lowest price tag.
Now settle in for the call of the card on standard equipment. We’ll deal with the safety and dynamic tech highlights later, but the list of straight-up luxury features is immense.
Headline items in the 530d Luxury Line include, ambient interior lighting (with 11 selectable designs), exterior handle area lighting and door exit lights, LED fog lights and adaptive LED headlights (with high-beam assist), rain-sensing wipers, nappa leather upholstery, four-zone climate control air con, keyless entry, colour head-up display, electrically adjustable steering column (including an ‘easy entry/exit’ function), ‘Comfort’ electric front seats with ‘Active seat ventilation’ (and memory function for the driver), the 'Fineline' interior wood trim, a leather trimmed ‘Sport’ steering wheel, and even velour floor mats and aluminium illuminated 'Luxury Line' door sill finishers.
Audiophiles will enjoy the 16-speaker Harman Kardon ‘Surround Sound’ system (with 600W digital amplifier), the multi-function, hi-res colour instrument display uses ‘black-panel’ technology for integrated graphics, and BMW’s ‘ConnectedDrive’ system acts as a portal for services including ‘BMW Apps’, Spotify, sat nav (with real-time traffic info) and phone connectivity.
An undoubtedly generous basket of fruit, but BMW added roughly $20k of extras to ‘our’ car to give a taste of the sweet, sweet options available.
First, they chucked out the Harman Kardon Surround Sound system and slotted in a 1400 watt Bowers & Wilkins ‘Diamond Surround Sound’ set-up. It's hard to see how you could be any more surrounded than you already were with the standard system, but the swap-out will set you back $6400.
The 20-inch alloys (replacing standard 19s) command a $950 changeover, and the $1600 ‘Innovations Package’ includes BMW’s latest party trick – ‘Remote Control Parking’.
An electric glass sunroof is $2900, the ‘Atlas Cedar metallic paint costs $2000 (ouch!), a massage function on the front seats will smooth the knots out for $1800, an electric rear window blind adds $1600 (Alfred Hitchcock would be impressed), auto soft close doors are $1150, ceramic surrounds for key controls is a lazy $1000, front and rear seat heating is $700, and if you prefer your steering wheel toasty warm (and who doesn't) get ready to cough up $500.
The 530d's (B57) 3.0-litre in-line six cylinder turbo-diesel engine is an all-alloy unit featuring variable turbine geometry in the turbo set-up (for reduced lag and increased efficiency) and common-rail direct injection to produce 195kW at 4000rpm, and a solid 620Nm from 2000-2500rpm.
It’s backed up by an eight-speed automatic transmission, driving the rear wheels, with the top two ratios overdriven for relaxed and economical freeway cruising, which this car would be doing plenty of, at 180km/h-plus, in its native Germany.
BMW claims a miserly 4.7L/100km for the 530d on the combined (urban/extra urban) fuel economy cycle, emitting 124g/km of CO2 in the process. The tank holds 66 litres.
Over roughly 300 city, suburban and freeway kilometres (according to the on-board computer) we averaged a still very respectable 5.9L/100km. And that was without using the standard stop-start function much at all. Okay, not at all.
Some cars waft in a boaty, nausea-inducing kind of way (come on down Lincoln Mark V), and others, like the BMW 530d, are so composed, seamlessly integrated and effortless to drive that the W-word comes to mind for all the right reasons.
With maximum torque available from 2000rpm, step-off performance is mega, and when required, the 3.0-litre diesel delivers huge acceleration in a seemingly endless, linear stream. BMW claims 0-100km/h in just 5.7sec.
The ‘Comfort’ front seats live up to their name, with plenty of lateral support and (electric) adjustment available for just about every element, including the top section of the backrest. Excellent.
Suspension is double wishbone front, five-link rear, and the standard ‘Adaptive Drive’ system combines ‘Dynamic Damper Control’ with ‘Dynamic Drive’ active roll stabilisation. The system matches damping characteristics with the road surface and driving style. It can also be dialled up for individual preference via the multi-mode (Comfort, Sport, Eco Pro) ‘Driving Experience Control’ in the centre console, and it's brilliant.
It's no surprise that body control is well buttoned down, and despite the 20-inch (254/35) Pirelli P Zero rubber, ride compliance is superb, even over the broken concrete and bitumen mess that passes for roads in much of urban Australia.
The electro-mechanical steering is evenly weighted with good road feel, and the car’s dynamic poise belies its 1640kg kerb weight. Braking, by big vented discs all around, is progressive and strong.
The auto transmission is smooth and positive, with quick manual shifts available via wheel-mounted paddles should Sir so desire. And as mentioned, the two top overdriven gears make for stress-free open-road running.
At the other end of the speed spectrum, parking is a breeze thanks to BMW’s ‘Surround View’ camera system, which seemed like electronic voodoo when it launched in the late noughties, and is still amazing.
As part of the standard ‘Parking Assistant Plus’ system, it offers a drone’s-eye-view of the vehicle (or a graphic facsimile of it) and its surrounds, as well as a rear camera view on split screen. It’s the ultimate in manoeuvring convenience and safety.
On the other hand, that optional ‘Remote Control Parking’ feature mentioned earlier feels more like a gimmick than a genuine breakthrough. It allows you to start and stop the car, and ‘drive’ it several metres into or out of a tight (perpendicular) parking spot.
Fair enough if you need to squeeze your wheels into a super-tight space on a regular basis, or you live in Tokyo. But you’ll need to carry a mini-mobile-phone-sized second key that requires recharging. For the amount of benefit you'll get out of it (showing it off in the golf-club car park in your first week together), we reckon it’s not worth the effort and extra bucks.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The 5 Series puts big runs on the board in terms of active and passive safety tech, and scored a maximum five ANCAP stars when tested in April this year.
Active safety features include stability and traction control, ABS, AEB, ‘Cornering Brake Control’ (CBC), ‘Dynamic brake lights’, ‘Active Cruise Control’ (with ‘Stop&Go’ function), ‘Cross traffic warning’ (front), ‘Lane keeping assistant’ and ‘Crossroads warning’.
But if, despite all that, a crash is unavoidable, the 530d is fitted with seven airbags (dual front, and front head, full-length side as well as driver's knee). There are also ISOFIX child restraint anchor points on the two outside rear seat positions.
BMW offers a three-year/unlimited km warranty, and servicing is 'condition-based', so your car will tell you when maintenance is required.
You can also prepay your maintenance costs for five years/80,000km, with prices ranging from $1640 for the basic package, climbing to $4600 for the all-inclusive option.
The BMW 530d Luxury Line is quick, comfortable, beautifully built, dynamically outstanding and well equipped for the price. It’s in a small, hard fought market niche, but upper luxury models don’t stick around for 45 years unless they’ve got something substantial to offer, and this 5 Series is hard to top.
|530d Gran Turismo Luxury Line||3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$47,200 – 59,730||2017 BMW 5 Series 2017 530d Gran Turismo Luxury Line Pricing and Specs|
|528i Ind Collection||2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$64,000 – 80,960||2017 BMW 5 Series 2017 528i Ind Collection Pricing and Specs|
|530E Iperf (hybrid) Luxury Line||2.0L, Hyb/PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$61,700 – 77,990||2017 BMW 5 Series 2017 530E Iperf (hybrid) Luxury Line Pricing and Specs|
|530E Iperf (hybrid) M Sport||2.0L, Hyb/PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$53,900 – 68,090||2017 BMW 5 Series 2017 530E Iperf (hybrid) M Sport Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||9|