Why a Day on an Airfield Showed us That The BMW 5 Series is Such a Good Car

Why a Day on an Airfield Showed us That The BMW 5 Series is Such a Good Car

OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
02 Jun 2017

Oneshift had the opportunity to put the BMW 530i and 520d sedans through their paces at Rancho Charnvee Resort, 3.5 hours North-East of Bangkok (ok, we actually got ourselves an airfield which is within the resort to stretch our cars on... I know, lucky us).

Our day began with a brief introduction to the cars, the BMW 530i M Sport (the milder, sibling of the 540i M sport we tested recently), and the 520d, an oil burner that incidentally is no slouch.

Serious stuff before the fun began… Our first stop was to get a feel of how the Parking Assistant Plus worked, to ensure fuss-free and safe parking. The 530i M Sport is able to perform both parallel and perpendicular parking with ease.

Parking Assistant Plus

Trying out the system first for parallel parking, you would indicate toward the side you are searching for a lot, and a simple depressing of the park sensor toggle brings up the top-down view and shows visuals from the frontal camera of the car, on the infotainment unit, while the car scans the side you are indicating for an empty lot. Once a suitable space is located, the system prompts the driver, and upon holding onto the same button, the car will begin its parking manoeuvres, without the need for any driver inputs.

The same goes for perpendicular lots. An added plus, BMW had ensured that when parking in this mode, the driver’s side did get additional priority when it came to leaving a gap between the flanking cars.

Additionally, the Beemer does provide you with a few options as it scans the side you would be parking on, allowing you to pick what is a real lot, as the car really identifies available space, and is dependent on the cars around it for reference, and not a physical lot.

Handling Course and Slalom

What else can beat an open space where you can test a car to its limit? With an entire airstrip to misbehave on, we were given the chance to let loose with the 530i M Sport and the diesel powered 520d.

The course involved a slalom, followed by a tight right bend, and a straight line sprint back home. The 530i responded well with the directional changes, and the M suspension under “Sport” mode did well in reducing body roll. The smaller 2.0 turbocharged straight 4 under the bonnet certainly makes the car feel a little more nimble than the 3.0 straight 6 in the 540i which we tested recently, and it shows during multiple directional changes on the slalom course, with less plough observed. Shedding up 100 kilos, through the clever use of aluminium, magnesium and high-strength steel, the new car (G30) is slightly larger than the previous (F10) car, once you are in the zone of pitching it through the bends, the larger Fiver certainly feels nimble, with very accurate steering feedback.

The M Sport Suspension features a double wishbone front unit, and a five-link rear, and not forgetting the trick suspension which has Electronic Damper Control, that not only allows you to toggle how the damping should be, but also plays a very vital part in the cars handling characteristics.

The milder 520d, on the other hand does feel a little softer around the bends. The suspension deployed on the oil burner is simpler, without all the fun of variable dampening going on. Utilising a more conventional setup, the car sits on smaller 18” rims, which aids in delivery of a comfortable ride. While a little slower to hit the 100km/h mark at 7.5 seconds (still not slouchy), versus the 530i which does this in 6.2 seconds, the added 50Nm of torque does give you that satisfying nudge into the seat.

There was plenty to learn, with the occasional flying or flattened orange cone, the Fiver’s size can seem large, as with most Executive Sedans, when they replace their predecessors, but the overall weight reduction versus the previous F10 model does add to the 530i and 520d feeling very nimble, especially when doing quick directional swops. Perhaps, the diesel might be slightly softer on the handling front, but we do find it the more practical a car to drive back on home ground, due to its fuel efficiency.

What makes a 5 Series that Special?

The sheer amount of engineering, from materials usage, the amount of time put in to build a balanced car, across the range and tech that has gone to the different variants has been well thought-out. The improvements made also in interior build does take quality up a few steps. Be it the bruiser of the 540i, the more nimble 530i, or the smaller, and more economical diesel in the 520d; they all simply deliver on sheer driving confidence and pleasure.

We’d like to thank our hosts at Rancho Charnvee Resort for the use of their airfield, Atta Lakeside Resort for their generous hospitality, and BMW Thailand for the loan of their cars, and their wonderful (and patient) trainers.

Check in with us soon for the full 520d review!

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