At around this time of the year, my partners and I sit down in our production house and try to work out which car impressed us the most.
And because we are all so different, we end up voting for three different cars. Stefano will always pick whatever burns the most rubber and fuel, Miguel has a quirk wherein he’s adamant that the car must speak to him, and I — I have no distinct preference. It’s either I like it or I don’t. This year, I’ve put my foot down because it’s a no-contest, really. The best car we’ve driven all year is the new BMW 5 Series. If you’re looking for the most value for money, that would be the 520d M Sport, and if you’re looking at the most performance for your money, that would be this one, the ultra exclusive but all-inclusive 530d Luxury.
I am particularly biased with the M Sport package. I prefer the bolstered seats, the M leather steering wheel, and all the M Sport bling in its body. This Luxury line is a little more subdued. It’s something my mother would like, and yours would too. What exactly is the Luxury line, you might ask? Basically, it’s a clean makeover wherein the look-at-me Supreme hoodie and Yeezy kicks are thrown away in exchange for a double-breasted Caraceni suit and buffed wingtip Oxfords. It’s clean shaven and it gets rid of the tacky Richard Mille wristwatch in exchange for an Audermars Piguet Royal Oak. You see where I’m going with this.
From a design perspective, the G30 5 Series is more evolutionary than revolutionary. You spot the biggest difference in front, whereas the rear has a more subtle departure from the previous F10. The headlights are now seamlessly integrated to the kidney grille, giving it a broader and more muscular stance. The kidney grille is now active, it opens and closes to improve aerodynamics. When does it open and close? NFI — no fucking idea. Check the manual.
Many tried to take a video of it opening and closing, but spent most of their time draining the batteries of their smartphones. The Luxury line highlights the car’s body panels with enough chrome to create a beam of sunlight to illuminate the road ahead. It also comes with a set of V-spoke 20-inch wheels, running 245s in front and 275s at the rear — wider than what you find in most sports cars today. Except this Luxury line doesn’t excite me as much.
I suppose that the real magic happens inside, because the interior is stunning. The Luxury trim bathes the cabin in exquisite Nappa leather with contrasting diamond-like stitching and white piping on the seats. It not only looks expensive, but feels it too. The leather is so smooth, with barely any ripples or pores on it. It’s pure butter, no different to what you find in a top spec Range Rover. It has headrests which you can squeeze, but it took me three days to get used to the driving position. I kept making micro adjustments to it, particularly in the headrest because there’s no option push it back — so I drove like there was a toddler’s foot kicking the back of my head.
I looked like a Tyrannosaurus Rex from Jurassic Park. Eventually, you settle in and get used to it, but at this level and considering that it is quite pricey option — they ought to make it feel right from the get go. On the upside, you can tighten the side bolsters so much, they’re pretty much bucket seats. The standard steering wheel doesn’t cut it for me either. I prefer the M leather steering wheel. It was more tactile in the hands and offered, maybe psychologically, more precise inputs. And then there’s the tech. This car comes standard with the latest iDrive system, which is the Vatican for all on-board computer systems. It simply is the law of the land.
Stylish and sophisticated.
There isn’t a brand whose driving aids and technological advancements I trust more than BMW. However, this fancy surround view camera is a bit of a gimmick and it only worked when it felt like it. Most out of the time, it was knocked out cold. The biggest issue for me is that the rear-view camera moves in the opposite direction of the front tires when on reverse. When I’m backing up, the last thing I want is for the camera to move, because that messes up all the measurements I just made to slot the car in place — like the garbage can in the garage was no longer where it was a second ago.
It’s disorienting and particularly useless. Everything else is fantastic, from the Harman Kardon audio system to the Adaptive LED headlights. As a top spec unit, I would’ve expected the Bowers & Wilkins system, but that’s just me because I love listening to music in a beautiful car. Really though, we are in the law of diminishing returns here because this car is sensational. Even the ride is so sublime.
“You’ll hit 250 km/h faster than you realize, yet it will return a decent 11.2 kilometres per litre on a combined cycle.”
How about that inline-6 engine, you might ask? Well, let’s put it this way. I was going home one evening on the skyway. There was a bit of traffic, when I noticed on my left peripheral that a V10 Audi RS6 sedan had pulled up next to me. The driver was staring at me, yet I didn’t give him the time of day to acknowledge his presence. We were crawling at 30 km/h, when I decided to tuck myself swiftly behind it. We were both on the leftmost lane with nowhere to go. The big Audi would shift in neutral to make lots of noise and grab everyone’s attention. Eventually, the road opened up — the RS6 downshifted and angrily pummelled through the tarmac. I, on the hand, just took it easy.
The Audi pulled to the side again, perhaps baiting me for humiliation at the tollgate. Obviously, I stood no chance. His car had a Lamborghini engine with 571 horses, four more cylinders, and a full race setup — whereas I had half the power and nothing but bling. As soon as I saw him lift his phone, I engaged sport mode on the 530d, and mashed the throttle. The moment the Audi driver saw me coming, I saw him drop his phone, attempt to activate the most aggressive settings in his car, and start to chase me down. By that time, it was all too late. Given that there were too many cars on the road, the RS6 was unable to stretch its legs. It had to watch the tail of my oil-burning sedan from Bavaria.
The combination of BMW’s inline-6 configuration matched with TwinPower Turbo and diesel technology has resulted into an atomic bomb of an engine. In wide open roads, the RS6 would’ve left me for dead — but in zippy traffic situations, the enthusiasm of the Bimmer’s 620 Newton Meters propeled me into a different dimension. The 8-speed ZF transmission is epic as well. The combination of both could make this Sabine Schmitz’s new oil-burning ‘ring taxi’.
You’ll hit 250 km/h faster than you realize, yet it will return a decent 11.2 kilometres per litre on a combined cycle. What a machine. In this trim, it makes for the ultimate luxury sleeper. It’s understated, uber luxurious, and docile — until you don’t want it to be. The G30 5 Series, all things considered, is the best car in the world today. It is a 7 Series with a little less legroom, and as a luxury sedan, that is about the highest compliment I can give this kind of car. It is a real privilege.