Following the recent off-the-planet design detour by certain BMWs, the car maker is back to Earth with its 5 Series Life Cycle Impulse upgrade. Not that the facelifted seventh generation model is out of date or boring.

It’s just that, well, it’s a BMW, swapping the out-there nose straight out of the Cyrano de Bergerac playbook, Proboscis: the long version, for return to the hallmark tucked-in twin kidney grille.

And the car that pointed the way in my case was the 530d, the lone diesel among a range of powertrains hoping to attract the traditional buyers of the BMW rear-wheel drive executive sedan.

The 530d is specced the same as the 530i but with a stonking twin turbo 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine, pumping out 195 kW and 620 Nm, enough to spear the sedan from rest to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds.

The upgraded 5 Series range is anchored by the 520i petrol, tipping the scales at $94,900, plus on-road costs, while the line-up is crowned with the M55i xDrive at $152,900. The 530i slots in the middle at $125,900. There is also a plug-in hybrid, the 530e PHEV, at $118,900.

All models enjoy the benefit of BMW’s M Sport package, which includes 19-inch light alloy wheels, M Sport suspension, BMW Individual High Gloss Shadow Line, sport seats, BMW Individual roof liner in anthracite, and M Aerodynamics package.

There’s an M leather steering wheel, M door sills, ‘M’ badge on front side panels, plus a trapezoidal tail pipe finished in chrome.

Smart and stylish, as befits a rear-wheel drive executive sedan, the test car was kitted out with a head-to-toe black finish, which when highly polished hid some of the character lines designed to emphasise its sporting nature. Pictures of the model in a lighter colour tell a far better story.

As mentioned above, the front has retreated to the more angular BMW design, while new LED rear lamps are tinted. The only colour other than black on the test car was red brake calipers peeking out from between the black (what else?) spokes.

Black has the same effect ‘indoors’, with black Nappa leather seats and piano black trim, which takes away some of the subtle contrast found with lighter shades. There’s room for five all up, but rear seat occupants may be surprised at the lack of leg room considering the overall size of the vehicle.

Apart from this, the quilted well-padded seats offer comfort all round and the boot, at 530 litres, is big enough to swallow bigger bags for five.

The boffins have taken to the hallmark BMW iDrive and come up with infotainment software OS7. In orchestration it is Wagnerian and far beyond the needs of the everyday drive. But for those with time and inclination offers up a few challenges.

A 12.3-inch touchscreen handles menus well, while the instrument cluster features an unusual set-up of speedometer and tacho operating in opposite directions around an information display, including maps.

DAB Radio and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system are standard. Control comes via touch, rotary controller or voice command,

The 530d shares all specs with its petrol counterpart, except for the 3-litre inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine producing 195 kW and 620 Nm, which mated with an eight-speed Steptronic automatic has the car hitting 100 km/h from rest in 5.7 seconds.

Combined fuel consumption is a claimed 5.5 litres per 100 kilometres. The test vehicle coming up with 6.3 litres in a mix of urban and highway driving.

Standard features include autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and assist, cornering brake control, dynamic brake lights and more.

While its 3.0-litre ‘six’, with 195 kW and 620 Nm on tap, roars up to 100 km/h in less than six seconds, it does so smoothly and without a rattle in sight. Indeed, it is one of the quietist diesels around.

It’s a pity then that it has no future, with electric vehicles destined to all-but snuff out the internal combustion engine by mid-century. In the meantime, it is left to give any touring party a trip in style, comfort and speed.

‘Comfort’ too is one of the drive modes that can be dialled up by the driver. EcoPro and Sport are others. With the 530d being so frugal in its consumption (5.5 L/100km), Eco mode does little more than taking the edge off performance, while Sport seems to be trying hard to make an impression, hanging on to gear shifts too long. Comfort says it all.

‘Hands-off’ steering will operate for up to 30 seconds and active speed limit by adjusting its speed depending on road traffic signs. It asks the driver if they want to accept the new speed and a click up or down of the wheel will obey.

It’s a BMW, Jim, but not as we know it, might have been the case with the out-of-kilter-design coupe. After all, it had its followers. However, when it comes to the company’s bread-and-butter executive sedan, the upgraded 5 Series, the 530d will do nicely, thank you.


BMW 520i $94,900
BMW 530i $115,900
BMW 530e PHEV $118,900
BMW 530d $125,900
BMW M55i xDrive Pure $137,900
BMW M55i xDrive $152,900
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local BMW dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (BMW 530d 3.0L Twin-Power Turbo Diesel, 6-cylinder, 8sp Steptronic automatic)

Capacity: 2.993 litres
Configuration: Six cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 195 kW @ 4000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 620 Nm @ 1500-2500 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.5 L/100km
CO2 emissions 134 g/km

DRIVELINE: Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive

Length: 4936 mm
Wheelbase: 2975 mm
Width: 1868 mm
Height: 1479 mm
Turning Circle: 12.0 metres
Kerb Mass: 1610 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 68 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

Three years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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