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bmw 530i review the fantastic 5

BMW 530i review: The fantastic 5

Elegant in design, sophisticated in tech, dynamic in the drive… the 5 Series is the business saloon benchmark

Christopher Ng Photo

Christopher Ng

27 Jul 2018

Listen. Turn down, way down, the volume of those sweet Harmon Kardon speakers. And listen through the exceptional sound dampening that makes the cabin composed. Muffled it may be but that sound is coming from a tiny 2.0-litre engine trying its very best to sound as angry as the larger fuel igniters that came before.

It was only the previous generation that the same nameplate, the 530i, was kicking arse then asked questions with a naturally-aspirated 3.0-litre inline-6. They don’t make the cars with engines destined to fulfil a motoring prophecy as they used to. You need to look to the past to have an engine that will be revered by all petrol heads for generations to come. Or have a larger bank account. Either way, the everyday-person is stuck with a small displacement engine that belches large numbers.

Yet, take nothing away from this generation’s twin-scroll turbocharged straight-4 that has been designed with every tech from BMW Book of Black Arts that make this engine a standout. Machined with modern metals and trained to be this generation’s workhorse, this is the same engine that appears in almost all of BMW Malaysia’s lineup from the 3 Series right up to the 740Le; no doubt in various guises crunching different numbers depending on the application.

In this 530i, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine makes 252hp and 350Nm of torque that passes through an eight-speed automatic on the way to the rear wheels for a zero to a 100kph time of 6.2 seconds, which is moderate by modern standards and appropriate for a car this size.

So, instead of having a white-knuckled acceleration adventure, you’ll be smooth sailing down the road with full composure. The manner in which the cabin is sanitised from external noises, vibration and harshness isolate you from the usual cues that you are at speed – a testament of the 530i’s ride refinement.

The springs and dampers cushion nearly all manner of impact from damaged roads, only the craggiest of them all will put a rumble in the cabin. Even so, the ride progressively improves even if the road condition doesn’t. It comes down BMW’s new ADAPTIVE mode that, together with the Dynamic Damper Control, changes the chassis’ character on the fly, adjusting the parameters depending on speed and steering inputs.

On the whole, and on a fine tarmac, the 530i handles just as any BMW would – beautifully. There’s nothing that feels over-weighted in the 530i that you’d need to wrestle with when taking corners with full gusto. Steering turns quick, easy and feels light for the 530i’s size, then progressively becomes firmer as you unwind the wheel while piling on the accelerator.

Still, I can’t help but note the 530i isn’t quite as incisive as the 3 Series and that might come down to where the 5 Series is positioned in the scheme of things. The 530i is, after all, the boss’ car and as such requires a certain level of bells and whistles. The 530i M Sport, as specified by BMW Malaysia, weighs in at 1,615kg.

That the 5 Series is feature filled is the reason for the weight. This saloon is packed with safety tech, from pedestrian safety such as the Approach Control Warning & Person Warning with City Brake function to driver assist system such as the Active Cruise Control with Stop&Go. The latter allows for cruising speeds up to 210kph and will come to a complete stop when traffic happens; semi-autonomous, if you think about it.

There’s a novelty to the interior, which was introduced in the 7 Series, coming in the form of the latest iDrive system that projects a very modern interface on a hi-res 10.25-inch touchscreen. The new system is also fitted with Gesture Control so you don’t have to touch the screen, altogether saving it from annoying fingerprints. You can set what gesture does what but in essence you can control the volume and mute the volume of the Bowers & Wilkins speakers, and swipe through the menus with a wave of your hand or twirl of the finger. It’s really cool.

Novelty aside, the interior of the 5 Series is roomy. The seats are set close to the floor that in turn opens up much-appreciated headspace. It also lets the transmission tunnel rise to meet your arm for a place to rest. The tall transmission tunnel continues to the rear making it hard to have more people appreciate the wood trim, metallic accents and artificial skin that sums up this appropriately luxurious interior.

Outside, the widened kidney grille that joins with the headlights defines the new 5 Series’ face but it is the M Sport performance kit that turns it black. The colour may purely be for cosmetics purposes but the grille is also functional, in that the slats open and close depending on the situation – open for more air, close to enhance the already low cd of 0.22.

The M Sport box also holds the 19-inch M Sport wheels, blue brake callipers, front splitter, rear diffuser, side skirts, rear spoiler, sports seats for driver and front passenger and M leather steering wheel… to name a few. All of which gives the 5 Series even more road presence, not as if its ‘presence’ needed enhancing in the first place.

Without a doubt, BMW has already cut a suit that’s both striking and classy for the new generation 5 Series, then motivates it with the powerful and smooth drivetrain. Considering that business saloons always tend to lean more into the plush as it does into the corners, BMW remains steadfast by making the 5 Series a saloon that panders to the spirited driver in all of us.

BMW 530i M Sport



4 cylinders, twin scroll turbocharger, direct injection, VALVETRONIC, Double-VANOS


8-speed automatic

Rear-wheel drive








6.2s 0-100kph

250kph max speed, 5.8l/100km



(otr, 0% GST, without insurance)

Overall Rating

9 Rating