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2017 BMW 530i Update 1: Testing the Four-Cylinder Luxury Sedan

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 6/22/2017 Motor Trend Staff

After we announced the arrival of our 2018 BMW 530i to our fleet, the brickbats came flying. How dare BMW sell a midsized luxury sedan—albeit one loaded with options—for 72 grand and change? Anything with a price tag like that, the theorists surmised, ought to come with at least a six-cylinder engine.

But does it need one?

For those of you who doubt that a four-banger can properly motivate 3,886 pounds of sheetmetal, our testers romped the 530i from a standstill to 60 mph in a cool 6.2 seconds and through the quarter mile in 14.8 seconds at 94.6 mph.

That's right on target with the last-gen 528i turbo-four, which posted the same 060 time and hit the quarter mile in a quicker 14.7 seconds but with a slower 94.4-mph pace.

When you look at the remaining six-cylinder engines in the segment, they all are substantially more powerful (and turbocharged, as well), usually nailing a 060 run in the low 5-second range and a quarter mile right at 14 seconds well north of 100 mph. But for the same price, they will come with far less content than our loaded-to-the-gills model.

What's under the hood is only part of the equation. How a car handles and stops is also crucial. And in our tests, the redesigned 530i shows stronger skidpad, figure-eight, and braking numbers than the competitive Mercedes-Benz and Audi entries.

Numbers are one thing, but the driving experience is another. Road test editor Chris Walton says the 530i's manual-mode shift times are relatively quick. "I never hit the limiter by accident," he says.

However, Walton thought the steering was bizarre. "I found myself sawing at the wheel all the way around the skidpad," he says. "I am not a fan of variable ratio based solely on vehicle speed. It is still unpredictable and nonlinear."

Despite the odd steering feedback, the BMW carries "a good amount of grip throughout the corner with good balance on the throttle, and just enough power to wag the back end on exit," Walton noted.

In other words, it's a fun set of wheels even if it's supposedly missing two cylinders. Stay tuned for more about the experience of living with the 530i.

More on the long-term BMW 530i here:

SkidpadFigure-8@avg g's0-60 brake
2017 BMW 530i 0.9225.90.69103
2012 BMW 528i 0.8825.80.70106
2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 Sport 0.9025.80.70106
2016 Audi A6 2.0T Quattro0.8426.80.66117

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