Luxury means never having to spill your coffee.
When I arranged to test drive the 2017 BMW 530i sedan, I was told to go out and hit some potholes. Seriously.
Among the many things redesigned on this luxury staple and symbol of success is the suspension. It’s designed to absorb anything the pavement might present, from rough roads to potholes. That means my coffee is safe and so are these gorgeous leather seats, plush carpets and gleaming surfaces.
Who This Car is For
- Singles, couples or small families (who don’t mind the risk that children pose to fine things)
- Buyers who want to reward themselves with top-shelf luxury
- Buyers who appreciate refined design and details
- Drivers who like the drive and feel of a sedan
- Drivers seeking a larger sedan
What This Car Costs:
- Base price: $51,200
- Driver assistance packages, including head up display, park assist, surround view camera and active driving assist: $4,900
- Lighting package, including adaptive headlights and high beams: $1,050
- MSport package including 19” wheels, wood trim, LED fog lights, MSport steering wheel, MSport brakes and enhanced aerodynamics: $3,950
- Premium package, including keyless entry, one year of SiriusXM, wireless charging and wifi: $2,300
- Bowers & Wilkins sound system: $4,200
- Gesture control: $190
- Heated seats: $500
- Price of the model we test drove: $74,160
And yes, my coffee did stay in my cup, but that’s just the beginning
Keeping my coffee in my cup is just the start of the intuitive luxury inside this car, which offers an unabashedly luxurious experience. From the beautifully redesigned exterior and newly lush interior to the many conveniences offered inside. Front seat passengers will find all necessary functions at their fingertips and rear seat passengers who sink into the comfy leather bench seat will be spoiled with heated seats, 12V power ports and climate control. And, despite the smallish look of the back seat, I found leg room to be fine; not overly roomy but not cramped, either.
“Performance” Is More in the Technology Than Under the Hood
BMW redesigned the 5 series for the 2017 model year, implementing a number of changes that set the stage for the future. More active or ‘self’ driving features, a smaller engine that earns better fuel economy but still has plenty of confidence on the road, and ahead-of-the-market technology that makes your time in the car not only a better experience, but a luxury in itself.
Among the amazing technology in this car are two features I loved: Gesture control and self parking.
What in the Heck is Gesture Control?
Before test driving the BMW 530i I’d have said gesture control is something my husband needs to stop spilling my drink all over the table while he talks with his hands (he could use this).
But really, it’s a sensor that understands your gestures and reacts to them. Get used to this idea; it’s the future. BMW added this feature to the stereo allowing a passenger or driver to swirl a finger in range of the sensors on the infotainment screen and raise or lower the radio volume. Here’s how it works:
Self Parking That Does It All (Almost)
Self parking goes by a variety of names, with park assist and active park assist being the most common. What this feature does is park the car for you while you sit behind the wheel. As you look for a parking spot, tap the park assist button, take your hands off the wheel and follow the prompts on the screen. The BMW then identifies a parking spot and while you control braking and/or acceleration, it manages turning and shifting gears to put your car into the parking spot.
We tried it out so you can see for yourself:
Other tech that impressed included Apple Car Play (or Android Auto), which the BMW 530i comes equipped with, but is accessible only by tapping the app on the infotainment screen before you start driving. You can’t access it while in drive mode.
I also loved the infotainment interface. It’s well designed, intuitive and easy to manage via the dial-and-button selector to the right of the gear shift. The dial lets you scroll through all the functions and the buttons take you directly to a few key ones like menu, media, home and navigation.
I have to confess, I didn’t try the voice-activated navigation, opting for Apple maps instead, though I did rely on the speed limit in the head up display screen. Knowing where I stand with the speed limit is important and I greatly appreciate that.
Having a Crappy Day? This Car is The Cure for That
Just slide into these beautiful leather seats, set the sound system to your favorite tunes, put the car in gear and let the stress of the day melt away. Heading out to highway gridlock? Adaptive cruise control takes over so the traffic doesn’t stress you out. Feel like a bit of adventure? Pop it into sport mode and focus on the road; the head up display option keeps your eyes forward and paddle shifters keep your hands on the steering wheel.
Put your phone away, please, and focus on the road
This is good advice your mother might give you right? Well, BMW has taken it to heart. There is a small cubby just under the center console where you can put your phone to charge it. And it’s equipped with a wireless charge pad. But if you have cups or bottles in the cup holder, you can’t really reach your phone. The other phone storage option is to stow it under the arm rest where there is a USB port and a 12V charge port.
Impressive Performance From a 4-Cylinder Engine (Thank You, Turbo!)
One of the big changes for 2017 is the addition a smaller turbo engine. If I hadn’t told you this you might never know. The 530i had plenty of confidence on the road, both merging onto the highway and on those few precious moments when you have the road to yourself and you can enjoy the exhilaration of acceleration.
This is due largely to the twin turbos added to the engine. There’s no lag when you hit the gas and you get up to speed smoothly and quickly.
Drive modes for all your driving moods
In sport mode, the engine performs even better: not only is the engine more responsive, but so is the suspension. The car seems to hug the road a little more intimately.
But I can’t drive in sport mode all the time. Especially when tooling through neighborhood streets, where the speed limit is 25 MPH and there’s a stop sign every block or two. That demands eco mode, which this car offers. And when I have a car full of crabby kids who just need to relax after a long day? Comfort mode does the trick, absorbing every bump the road throws at us so that no one spills their beverage or suffers any other undue discomfort. And that is the true point of luxury.
What We Loved
- Gorgeous leather seating, especially in white
- The refined new exterior design
- Head up Display
- Self parking
- Gesture control
- Runflat tires are standard
- Adaptive head lights and rain sensing wipers
- A well designed and organized infotainment screen
- Multiple exterior camera functions with 3D view
- Nice fuel economy for a mid-sized luxury sedan! 24 MPG city/34 highway
- Multiple drive modes: Spot, eco and comfort
What You Need to Know
- 3 years of maintenance included
- Tech and luxury packages add significantly to the price
- This is a luxury car more than a performance car
- 4 year/50,000 mile warranty
- 4 year roadside service included
Disclosure: BMW provided the 2017 530i for my test drive; all opinions expressed are my own