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BMW 530i Touring 2018 review


Truth be known, I’m not a huge wagon fan. But I keep getting these wagons to review and really liking them! Once you get past the height factor (which I am well past, because the amount of SUVs on the road astounds me, especially the huge ones - where is everyone going in their giant car? Down two kilometres to the shopping centre?), you'll find they are still a very practical car. 

The BMW 530i Touring is quietly spacious rather than in-your-face enormous. It wins you over first of all with its looks but over the seven days of test driving with my family of four and the practicality is hard to beat. Think you need an SUV? Keep reading. 

How does it drive?

The 530i Touring is silky smooth and glides along the road without so much as a hump or a bump. It’s quiet, which to me makes it luxurious as you feel as though you’re in your own little BMW bubble. And it’s powerful. It’s got a four cylinder, 2.0-litre engine but it feels bigger than that, and it’s on the fast end of the range - it goes from 0-100km in 6.5sec. So you can zoom up hills and get around pretty quickly. The handling is great and the steering wheel is an easy-turner, you won’t struggle with three-point turns here.

You’re not as high as other cars, so you do have that lower profile, but being a wagon it’s still a sizeable car on the road so you don’t feel as though you’re in a small car.

The handling is great and the steering wheel is an easy-turner, you won’t struggle with three-point turns here. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The handling is great and the steering wheel is an easy-turner, you won’t struggle with three-point turns here. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

And parking is good - it is longer than other cars so you’ll have to choose your park wisely, but there’s a reverse camera, a front camera and a 360 degree view as well so you know where you are compared to things around you. The split screen can be confusing at first but I got used to it over the week.

What does it look like?

The particular paint job in the car I drove, 'Atlas Cedar Metallic', seemed to change colour depending on what light it was in. Sometimes it was grey, sometimes bronze, sometimes charcoal - but it was always lovely, and for an extra $2000, it had better be.

  • BMW has truly nailed is the art of understated design. (image credit: Dean McCartney) BMW has truly nailed is the art of understated design. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • The 530i Touring is sleek and sporty with long lines that are much more elegant than a boxy SUV and curves in all the right places. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The 530i Touring is sleek and sporty with long lines that are much more elegant than a boxy SUV and curves in all the right places. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • Subtlety is much more classy than overt flashiness. (image credit: Dean McCartney) Subtlety is much more classy than overt flashiness. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

Even though it’s a wagon, it’s a good looking wagon. The 530i Touring is sleek and sporty with long lines that are much more elegant than a boxy SUV and curves in all the right places. I felt pretty fabulous getting in all week. 

Inside is just as stylish. My car had a cream leather interior which I am partial to because it imbues a sense of luxury that other colours can only dream of, however I wore dark denim jeans one day and the blue had lightly rubbed off on the seats - so be warned. Cream leather looks incredible but there may be some cleaning involved if you opt for this colour. 

The light wood accents along the doors and the dash are bang on trend, design wise, and the high gloss black finish in the centre panel completes the luxury triangle. There’s a leather steering wheel and my car was optioned up with a panoramic sunroof which will set you back an extra $3100.

  • There’s a leather steering wheel and the option of a panoramic sunroof which will set you back an extra $3100. (image credit: Dean McCartney) There’s a leather steering wheel and the option of a panoramic sunroof which will set you back an extra $3100. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • The light wood accents along the doors and the dash are bang on trend. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The light wood accents along the doors and the dash are bang on trend. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

But the thing BMW has truly nailed is the art of understated design. Subtlety is much more classy than overt flashiness and the whole interior reflects that.

How spacious is it?

There is so much legroom and ample headroom, even with the panoramic sunroof. (image credit: Dean McCartney) There is so much legroom and ample headroom, even with the panoramic sunroof. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

Sit back and relax in the front seats - there is so much legroom here and ample headroom, even with the panoramic sunroof. My 185cm husband has a very chill driving position and he had lots of room, even with the children’s car seats in the back.

My two girls, aged four and six, also had loads of room and I was able to fit in a third childseat in here too, so I had a baby capsule, a six month to seven year seat, and a booster seat. Granted, leaning over to do the capsule up can get annoying in a low car like this, which helps explain the popularity of SUVs, but if you’re beyond that stage then doing car seats up is less of an issue. I also fit comfortably in the back at 161cm.

The 530i Touring's boot is 570 litres, that's 40 litres bigger than the sedan version. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The 530i Touring's boot is 570 litres, that's 40 litres bigger than the sedan version. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

But the reason you’d go for the Touring over the sedan is the boot. It’s huge. At 570 litres it’s 40 litres bigger than the sedan version, and is also a fair chunk bigger than most mid-sized SUVs - which are higher, but that doesn’t mean bigger. This boot is long rather than high.

What’s the tech like?

There is a multimedia touchscreen with bluetooth connectivity and you can also get Apple CarPlay, but that will cost an extra $623. Which is odd, because it comes standard in other, much cheaper cars (like Hyundais and Fords and all of them really). The tech in BMW’s own multimedia system however, is more advanced than those cars and CarPlay is probably less of a necessity here because the sat nav in the 530i actually works quite well and is high def on the screen - not the same as in a less expensive car. 

The tech can be controlled by gesture control, but I am one of those people who has trouble working hand dryers and automatic taps, so I was fairly hopeless at this. Other people did it though and it worked perfectly fine.

The entertainment screens come with their own remote control, making the children feel totally in charge. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The entertainment screens come with their own remote control, making the children feel totally in charge. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

There’s a head-up display which shows your speed, the speed limit and some map functionality which is helpful when in tunnels. Also, turn the music up loud for the full, 16 speaker stereo system experience. 

But the big winners here are the children as the car I drove was optioned to include two entertainment screens for rear passengers. What is it about children and screens in cars? They just love them, even though I only ever let them watch David Attenborough DVDs! (Don’t feel sorry for the kids, they get enough TV at home). With their own remote control they felt totally in charge and while this feature will set you back an extra $4400, there were definitely no arguments between the girls while they were in the car.

How easy is it to use every day?

I think you’re sacrificing height for looks if you opt for a 530i Touring, ‘cause this looks a lot better but it’s not as conveniently high as an SUV. And it depends on what life stage you’re at - parents with babies want an SUV so they don’t break their backs putting the capsule in and out, and if you’ve got more than three kids then you have to opt for a larger car. But this long cruiseliner does look better.

The Touring is a pretty good height off the ground to lift groceries in and out, and the kids can climb into the car easily. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The Touring is a pretty good height off the ground to lift groceries in and out, and the kids can climb into the car easily. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

So, with that in mind, know that you’ll have to bend down to get kids in carseats in the Touring, but the boot is a pretty good height off the ground to lift groceries in and out, and the kids can climb into the car easily. 

There are two cupholders in the front, two in the back, a bottle holder in each door, pockets on the back of the front seats and a swish centre storage bin. There’s also a spot to charge your phone without plugging it in but only if you’ve got an Android as Apple doesn’t do this yet. There are two USB points in the front and two in the back though. You’ll also find air vents for rear passengers and their own climate control. 

What’s the safety like?

How much does it cost to own?

Fuel efficiency is better than most SUVs at 6.5 litres per 100kms. (image credit: Dean McCartney) Fuel efficiency is better than most SUVs at 6.5 litres per 100kms. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The BMW 530i Touring comes in at $115,500, and the particular car I drove was fitted with extras which brought the price to $131,673 (that would be the fancy sunroof, entertainment screens for the kids and the awesome paint job which made up the bulk of those costs)

Fuel efficiency is better than most SUVs at 6.5 litres per 100kms and it’s covered by a three year/100,000km warranty. You can also prepay your maintenance costs for five years/80,000km, with prices ranging from $1640 for the basic package going to $4600 for the all-inclusive option. 


The Wrap

Driving the 530i this week was a complete pleasure. Between the smooth drive, the quiet power, the comfortable luxury and the big boot I didn’t have much to complain about. It’s spacious and is one of those cars I would give up an SUV for. I gave it a family rating of 8.5 out of 10. My children also gave it an 8.5, BMW knows those screens win kids over! 

Likes

Smooth drive
Luxe interiors
Large boot

Dislikes

Options cost extra

Scores

Nedahl:

4.3

The Kids:

4.3

$84,040 - $99,330

Based on third party pricing data

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