There’s something to be said about the baritone growl of a powerful petrol engine — when you floor the gas pedal and listen to the engine sing, it is music to your ears while the acceleration makes your heart skip a beat. Being in the driver’s seat of the BMW 530i M Sport inspires such plaudits because the car is that amazing — it moves with an otherworldly grace and yet would satisfy any speed demon, gripping the road with sexy tightness and taking the corners with an unforced ease.
The 530i M Sport is the 11th new model to join the portfolio of vehicles assembled in Malaysia by BMW Group. The latest locally assembled variant boasts key features such as M Aerodynamics components, M Sport brake, M light-alloy wheels, M specific pedals and M leather steering wheels from the M Sport package, and includes driving assistance features such as Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Warning, Approach Control Warning and Person Warning, Collision Warning, Park Assistant, BMW Display Key and BMW Gesture Control. Certainly, these are the bells and whistles of all the cars in this echelon, but they are interesting sideshows to the main act — an impressive engine.
Powered by BMW’s new B46 turbo-charged 2.0-litre engine, the 530i exhibits almost zero turbo lag. Throttle response is natural and immediate whether I’m weaving through heavy traffic during the school run or letting rip on the highway. The car boasts a top speed of 250kph and can do the century speed in 6.2 seconds — the latter is true based on personal experience, at the expense of many a hapless driver on the Maju Expressway one weekday afternoon.
The model I picked up from BMW Malaysia’s outpost in Cyberjaya was Alpine white with carbon-fibre inserts in the body; handsome with sleek lines and luxurious curves, it was sporty and dynamic. Its lustrous body was particularly prominent in white and was my favourite, although the car also comes in Mediterranean Blue, Sophisto Grey, Carbon Black Metallic and Bluestone Metallic, if you prefer something less flashy.
The M badge on the body is an unnecessary tease — I wasn’t driving the M5 but the 5 Series with M performance accessories. The engine remains untouched while the M factor here is purely aesthetic. This allows owners to personalise their car, right from the choice of wheel sets, side skirting to underscore its athletic profile and carbon-fibre front splitters that enhance the aerodynamics to bumper trim and rear diffusers, rear spoilers and front ornamental grilles in a high-gloss finish.
Even the side mirrors can be encased in carbon-fibre finish while stainless steel pedals give the footwell a high-tech feel. The 530i M Sport is essentially a sports-business sedan, so the M performance accessories can help make it as sporty as required based on personal preferences.
Bowled over as I was by the car’s looks, it was the driving experience that pleased me more. The BMW 5 Series has a rich and long history of combining ride comfort with driving dynamics in a sublime package, and this car delivers on that promise beautifully. The engine started with a grunt that’s barely perceptible from the outside while inside, it’s so quiet. I personally prefer a bit more noise, which I got when I sped up a little. The car ate up the miles with an effortless grace, its steering perfectly balanced in terms of weight and comfort.
The BMW 5 Series has a rich and long history of combining ride comfort with driving dynamics in a sublime package
When in D mode, the 530i M Sport shifts to the highest gear possible for fuel economy but just gentle pressure on the accelerator will see the transmission instantly drop a few gears, providing some serious power in the blink of an eye. When in S, it becomes more aggressive, hanging onto the lower gears to provide the most possible power. You could also opt for the manual mode — easily switched on via steering wheel-mounted paddles — in which each gear change is flawless and as smooth as butter.
While the exterior is sporty, the car’s interior is luxury itself — exquisite applications of wood and metal trim, artfully stitched hides and a delicious array of ways to thrill your inner tech geek, for example, the iDrive 6.0, which gives touchscreen functionality to the 10.3in centre display. Together with the existing rotary controller and its touchpad surface, steering-wheel controls, voice recognition and centre-stack buttons and knobs, the car offers the driver a multitude of ways to create the perfect driving experience. Moreover, there are more ways than ever to adjust the car to your personal needs and tinker with its infotainment systems.
The locally assembled BMW 530i M Sport is available at RM388,800 with the M performance accessories sold separately. Visit www.bmw.com.my for more information.