The BMW 5 Series is considered by many to be the preeminent leader in the luxury sport sedan market. It seems every new 4-door wundercar that arrives feels impelled to expound on incredible handling characteristics and awe-inspiring acceleration by comparing itself to this iconic automobile.
Of course, when push comes to shove, there is no substitute for the real thing and this was reinforced for me in a test drive of the 2006 BMW 530xi.
2006 BMW 530xi
2006 BMW 530xi
2006 BMW 530xi
“X” in this case stands for xDrive, BMW tech speak for all-wheel drive with variable torque distribution. An ingenious and completely transparent system, xDrive distributes power to the back and front wheels in a standard 60/40 split. By monitoring steering angle and wheel speed, xDrive seamlessly redistributes power to the wheels with the most traction as needed, reducing the potential for loss of control.
Power is provided by a lightweight magnesium/ aluminum inline V6 engine. With 3.0 liters of displacement, it offers 255 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 220 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 rpm.
Acceleration is smooth and progressive, the result of Double-VANOS variable camshaft control and variable valve lift control. Capable of getting from 0-100 km/h in a mere 7.0 seconds, top speed is limited to 240 km/h. Fuel consumption is reasonable for a sedan of this caliber, though it is geared towards performance and not economy driving.
Two unique transmissions are available in the 530xi.
A 6-speed manual transmission is standard. Gear changes are for the most part, easy to execute, but I did find shifter movement to be somewhat notchy for my own personal taste.
If long term ownership is a consideration, my recommendation would be the 6-speed automatic with STEPTRONIC. It offers the advantages of manual shifting, without having to make use of a clutch.
A fully independent aluminum suspension provides the on-road prowess BMW vehicles are famous for. Front and rear anti-roll stabilizer bars and twin-tube gas shocks improve performance and ride comfort. Wheels are 17” cast aluminum alloy equipped with 225/50R-17 all-season tires.
Speed-sensitive power assisted steering; along with Dynamic Stability Control, (DSC) Dynamic Traction Control, (DTC) Start-off Assist and Brake Fade Control are just some of the features that further improve the driving experience and safety of the 530xi.
The shape of the BMW 5 series was penned by American born automotive designer Chris Bangle. He is also responsible for the new 3 Series, 6 Series, 7 Series and Z4 Roadster.
Much has been made of the infamous “Bangle-butt”, a two level design element integral to every new BMW he has designed. Some critics have called it a stroke of genius. Others see it as less desirable.
From my perspective, it has taken a few years and several new BMW’s to fully appreciate the significant step forward his straight edge designs represent. If as they say, “impersonation is the sincerest form of flattery” than his talent and foresight is evident with each new competitive model in the high-end market, as other manufacturers scramble to incorporate the Bangle approach to designing a car.
Inside, the BMW 530xi is everything you would imagine a fine German automobile to be. Business-like in how it approaches the cabin experience, each knob and switch is strategically placed to optimize form and function.
A 3-spoke leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel is your first link to this version of “The Ultimate Driving Machine”. With built in stereo controls and Bluetooth® wireless connectivity for hands-free mobile phone use, it provides outstanding feedback and a solid connection to what’s going in and around the car.
Gauges are round and centrally located under a large hood to reduce glare. Cruise control, wipers and directional control stalks are all within easy reach. Automatic settings for both the wipers and headlights make driving the 530xi effortless.
A vital component of any BMW interior is iDrive technology. At first intimidating, it is in actual fact a useful way to control four different functions within the 530xi; Communication, Navigation, Entertainment and Climate. Sure it has some annoying tendencies that over-complicate what should be simple functionality. But once mastered, it’s easy to maneuver the brushed aluminum knob to the desired menu function and fine-tune your command on the centrally located LCD screen.
Leatherette seats are firm, but comfortable. Both front seats offer 10-way power adjustment with power head rests and available increases in cushion length, plus 4-way power lumbar support. A 2-setting memory system for the driver’s seat adjusts side-view mirrors and steering wheel angle as well.
With room for five, a reasonable amount of interior storage space and a large trunk, the BMW 530xi is the perfect go anywhere sedan for the upwardly mobile family of the new millennium. For those looking to experience life in the fast lane, while at the same time understanding that sometimes the road ahead turns slippery when you least expect it, the all-wheel-drive 530xi is well equipped to handle anything that may come your way.
2006 BMW 530xi
Engine size: 3.0L inline 6-cylinder
Steering: Speed sensitive power assist
Braking: Power 4-wheel disc, 4-wheel ABS
Air bags: 2 (front) 2 (side) 1 (overhead)
Fuel economy city/hwy:
Manual: 12.1/7.8 L/100 km
Automatic: 11.7/7.9 L/100 km
Original MSRP: starting at $70,700.00