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Five’s flip sides

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2011 BMW 535d The shark has pretty teeth The M-pack on the BMW 535d gives it a more aggressive stance

 

IT MIGHT BE easier, then, to consider the 535d. The second of the 5er-Reihe line-up lent to Lucire for evaluation, the diesel model doesnít quite stir the soul the same way. The features are all there: the gadgetry, the comfortable seats, the airbag, the iDrive systemóbut you canít help but feel something is missing. The six-cylinder diesel is one of the smoothest units on the market, but, like all sixes, the sound doesnít compare to that of the bent eight.

Itís as refined as the 550i, though with less power (a “mere” 300 PS), you donít feel the same sense of urgency around the bends. Thereís nothing to suggest the chassis is any different, but subjectively, the cornering feels less sporting. But this is the responsible variant, one that isnít meant to be flung around the winding roads of Makara like a Golf GTI. Itís meant to be a mode of conveyance around town as an executive saloon that blends refinement, handling, looks and economy in a single package. If you have to head on to the motorway, it continues to reward you.

On that mission, it succeeds. The places where the 550i fell down, the 535d picks up. You are knocking 90 g/km off the carbon dioxide emissions, getting the figure down to 163 g/km, and we averaged a commendable 29∑4 mpg (9∑6 l/100 km) on our testó10 miles per gallon more than the 550i.

Oddly, externally, it was Ďangrierí than the 550i. That was the judgement of Tanya Sooksombatisatian, Lucireís head designer, as she shot the car in Makara: with the M-pack, the deeper spoiler gave the front of the 535d more purpose. We called it shark-like. Light reflected off the grey bonnet and front wings in ways we had to capture. Someone had lavished a lot of attention to how the metal curved to get those effects, giving you another level of appreciation for the carís styling.

This was a confusing message. If you opt for a 535d, your brain will have sided with rationality over emotion. Everything about this car makes sense: despite its size, it has a very respectable mpg figure. You are being kinder to the trees.

Getting the M-pack out seems to go against the nicer approach of the car.

Not that we dislike the looks: on the contrary. Individuality we can understandóin fact, a fashion magazine promotes itóbut being an angry shark flies in the face of the ĎGently does ití engineering that the 535d possesses. It might have 300 PS but you donít ever feel it rushing to the fore when you accelerate in normal conditions.

Perhaps the optional M-pack is for those who want to hide their niceness. What if youíre a lawyer who canít be seen as nice, even though you are deep down?

Again, BMW has tapped in to how many car buyers think today.

We like new cars, just as we like new clothes. But we are so much more conscious about their effects on the environment. So, if we have to buy, then let it be something that expresses our individualityóbut let it also be something that makes some long-term sense. Financially, getting close to 30 mpg isnít a bad thing, either.

The 550i might be the choice for those who wear their hearts on their sleeves, but the 535d is the thinking personís executive saloon. However, you have it, more rationality is permitted, which makes the 535d the best in the business. •

 

Itís meant to be a mode of conveyance around town as an executive saloon that blends refinement, handling, looks and economy in a single package. If you have to head on to the motorway, it continues to reward you




 

 

 


Jack Yan is publisher of Lucire.

 

 

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