I’ve always bemoaned entry-level BMWs when I see them on the road. Not because I think less of people who can only afford the entry-level version of a BMW but because you can just tell when someone bought one just for the badge and couldn’t care less about driving enjoyment. The equipment spec, the wheels and the lowly badge on the back can all be indicators of someone who just leased whatever BMW they could just to try and one-up their neighbor. However, the BMW 530i might be able to change that.
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A few months back, I had a BMW 530i M Sport for a week. It wore Alpine White paint, had a stunning Mocha Nappa Leather interior with Multi-Contour seats, the M Sport package and just about every other possible option. It looked like a million bucks. But it was just a 530i, the entry-level model in the 5 Series range. Yet, it neither looked nor felt like anything close to something entry-level.
Admittedly, that was one that was loaded with al the goodies. However, just a few options can make the standard 530i looks like a proper luxury sport sedan. Hell, just the M Sport package alone, which isn’t too pricey at $2,600, transforms the looks of the 530i. It adds much nicer wheels, black highlights and new exhausts, as well as the M Sport steering wheel which is fantastic.
The interior doesn’t even need much upgrading to feel superb. The Dakota leather seats that come with the M Sport package are great and the Multi-Contour seats, while lovely, aren’t necessary. And that’s really all you need to add to have a great 5er that won’t run you more than $55,000.
But the best part of the new 530i is the powertrain. The previous-gen F10 BMW 528i came with BMW’s N20 2.0 liter turbo-four. While that was a good engine in the 3 Series and X3, it felt a bit sluggish and un-premium in the 5 Series.It was relatively coarse and didn’t make a good noise. Unbecoming of a car in the 5 Series’ price range. You could feel that you opted for the cheaper model when you put your foot down. Not so in the new BMW 530i.
The B48 2.0 liter turbo-four engine in the 530i is a little fire-cracker of an engine. It’s far quicker than its 248 hp and 258 lb-ft would suggest and it’s buttery smooth. There’s no indication of a four-cylinder under the hood. Not only is it buttery smooth and properly quick but it is also incredibly quiet. If you didn’t know any better, you could easily be convinced it’s an I6.
Then, there’s the brilliant eight-speed gearbox, which is as good as it’s ever been in a modern BMW. It’s smooth, fast, precise and incredibly intelligent. BMW’s calibration of the ZF-eight-speed makes it probably the best automatic in the world.
After my week with the 530i, I felt that, despite my love for BMW’s I6 engines and how fast the 540i is, I didn’t need one. I could happily live with the BMW 530i everyday and never want for more. It’s a brilliantly capable luxury car with some decent sportiness injected into it. While it’s annoying to see the typical suburban zombie buying base-model BMWs to impress their equally-dull neighbors, the new BMW 530i might just make entry-level BMWs cool again.