2017 BMW 530d Euro-Spec Review

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Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the compression-ignition engine that bears his name, allegedly drowned in the English Channel 103 years ago. While tragically unfortunate for the inventor himself, this is also bad news for those looking for a metaphor to frame the modern dilemma in which the diesel engine finds itself. At risk of sounding grossly insensitive, it would be much better for us if he had met his watery demise in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, illustrating the radically different views that Europe and the U.S. have with regard to the automotive applications of his famous invention.

For BMW, diesels represented 6 percent of its U.S. sales in 2014, the last calendar year before the Volkswagen scandal limited their appeal further still. Meanwhile in Europe, compression-ignition remains utterly dominant, especially among premium automakers; in some European countries it is anticipated that 90 percent of sales of the new 5-series will be diesels. BMW’s recent commitment to U.S. diesel sales puts an optimistic spin on things, but there is as yet no confirmation that we will ever see a “d”-badged version of the new 5-series.

In the European Opposite Land, 5-series buyers can choose among as many diesel variants as we can gasoline engines. There’s a basic 2.0-liter inline-four 520d likely to spawn a detuned 518d variant, and then a 3.0-liter inline-six that gets progressively more powerful in its 530d and forthcoming 540d and M550d guises. The Euro-spec 530d M Sport that we drove for this review, complete with the optional all-wheel drive that BMW calls xDrive, stands the best chance of making it to the U.S. market.

It’s good; indeed, our time with it left us wondering whether—in anything barring raw output numbers—there is currently a better diesel engine on the market. Refinement of this new-generation “B57” diesel is outstanding, a point emphasized by just how quiet the new 5-series has become in terms of reduced wind and road noise. From inside the car at lower speeds, it’s pretty much impossible to tell that you’re running without spark plugs thanks to a soundtrack as refined as a gas engine’s. Even full load doesn’t produce anything more than a purposeful and pleasant growl. Although we didn’t have one handy for back-to-back comparison, we’re fairly certain it sounds at least as good as, if not better than, the gasoline 530i with its turbocharged four-cylinder. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Manufacturer

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