2005 BMW 530d Touring review and pictures

Posted on Thursday, 27 April 2006 , 09:04:23 byEmil

Filed under BMW

BMW 530d Touring

This generation of 5-Series Touring is lighter than its predecessor, despite increased length and height; like the saloon, it has a higher proportion of aluminium components, saving weight and enhancing handling. The Touring's body roll is as well controlled as that of the saloon, despite its different centre of gravity and bulkier aerodynamics, thanks to the self-levelling suspension and extensive array of electronic aids. This does make it feel slightly more remote and less involving - it gives a somewhat artificial sensation - but that's a pretty marginal criticism. As with the saloon, you can never quite forget the fact that this is a large rear-wheel-drive car, especially in wet and slippery conditions, but unless you really overdo it or are prone to extreme lapses of judgement, the risk of ending up facing the wrong way on the road is easily offset against the edginess of the experience. This is a family-sized car with the potential to excite; it's edgier than the admittedly excellent new E-Class and A6, cars with a very different demeanour.
UK prices will start from 29,415 for the petrol-engined 525i SE (192bhp); the 525d SE (177bhp) is from 30,110, the 530d (218bhp) is from 33,930 and the flagship V8-engined 545i a steep 43,945. Standard equipment will include six-speed manual transmission, automatic air conditioning, eight airbags, tyre pressure warning, part-electric seat adjustment, roof rails, ISOFIX child seat attachment points, electric operation of the tailgate, a separately-opening rear window, self-levelling air suspension and electronic Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with traction control (DTC), brake control (DBC) and Corrnering Brake Control (CBC). As for the saloon, options include Active Steering (more on this later), Dynamic Drive anti-sway control, which adjusts the front and rear anti-roll bars, adaptive headlights, run-flat tyres, active cruise control to monitor distance from the car ahead and a head-up display, which projects driver information and current speed onto the windscreen just above the steering wheel, so the driver doesn't have to look down at the dials.

BMW expects 60 percent of buyers to opt for the diesels, especially once the 535d joins the range in the autumn, though entry-level 520i and mid-point 530i petrol models will also be offered from spring 2005. And of those diesels, the 530d is bound to be a very popular option.

The 3.0-litre engine in the 530d is already well-proven in the 3- and 7-Series ranges; in the 530d Touring, it gives a top speed of 150mph, 0-60mph acceleration in 7.2 seconds (7.4 seconds with the optional six-speed automatic transmission), fuel consumption of 39.2mpg (35.3mpg auto) and carbon dioxide emissions of 192g/km (213g/km auto). It incorporates a particulate filter, and meets the Euro 4 emissions regulations which come into force in 2006, thus qualifying it for a 3 percent company car tax break in the UK. With 369lb ft of torque to play with, it makes the 530d an impressive machine, whether on the (unrestricted) autobahn at high speed or shooting around twisting country lanes.

In fact, the 530d is so strong, smooth and refined that paying out the whopping premium for the petrol 545i (155mph, 0-60 in 5.9 seconds, 25mpg and 274g/km) really does seem like an unnecessary indulgence, especially since it has less torque (332lb ft), and thus feels less well-suited to the nature of this car. The V8 doesn't even sound substantially different; although there is a trace of a distinctive exhaust note, the 5-Series is so well insulated and cocooning that you'd have to really hammer the throttle to hear much feedback. Speed freaks and enthusiasts might do best to wait for the 535d, which promises to take the high-performance diesel game to a whole new level, or keep their ears open for news of a diesel V8: as Mercedes and Audi now both offer such an engine, though not in the UK as yet, BMW is bound to come up with one soon.
This generation of 5-Series Touring is lighter than its predecessor, despite increased length and height; like the saloon, it has a higher proportion of aluminium components, saving weight and enhancing handling. The Touring's body roll is as well controlled as that of the saloon, despite its different centre of gravity and bulkier aerodynamics, thanks to the self-levelling suspension and extensive array of electronic aids. This does make it feel slightly more remote and less involving - it gives a somewhat artificial sensation - but that's a pretty marginal criticism. As with the saloon, you can never quite forget the fact that this is a large rear-wheel-drive car, especially in wet and slippery conditions, but unless you really overdo it or are prone to extreme lapses of judgement, the risk of ending up facing the wrong way on the road is easily offset against the edginess of the experience. This is a family-sized car with the potential to excite; it's edgier than the admittedly excellent new E-Class and A6, cars with a very different demeanour.

BMW expects 60 percent of buyers to opt for the diesels, especially once the 535d joins the range in the autumn, though entry-level 520i and mid-point 530i petrol models will also be offered from spring 2005. And of those diesels, the 530d is bound to be a very popular option.
And that's the verdict on the Touring tailgate, too: in theory, a remote-opening release sounds great, saving from dirtying hands or putting loads down, but it's none too quick to respond, and the automatic operation applies to closing the tailgate as well. There's no chance to simply slam it shut: you have to wait for it to lower itself. Annoying rather than life-enhancing. The boot itself is larger than that of its predecessor, though opting for a 'real' spare wheel rather than the run-flat tyres cuts the space by 35 litres, and flat-floored; it has a lockable compartment floor with storage boxes and folding partitions, as well as a ski hatch, roll-out load area cover, a power socket and four lashing points. It's versatile, if not as cavernous in dimensions as either the E-Class or A6 estates.

The 5-Series Touring will probably be bought by those who really want a BMW first and foremost, but have to opt for an estate for practical reasons. It's not necessarily going to be the first choice for dedicated load-luggers - that honour remains with the E-Class, or Volvo's V70, still the obvious choices in this class for the pragmatically-minded. But minor niggles apart, the Touring does manage to be a true BMW without compromises, and for that it must be applauded.