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2014 BMW 535i Review: Touring M Sport Wagon Photo:
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What's Hot
Space and pace, superb engine, great transmission, room for the dog.
What's Not
Steering feels dull for a BMW.
X-Factor
Are fast wagons your thing? You?ll probably be interested in this one.
Tony O'Kane | Feb, 16 2014 | 0 Comments

2014 BMW 5 SERIES REVIEW

Vehicle Style: Large luxury wagon
Price: $122,900 (plus on-roads), $129,600 as tested
Engine/trans: 225kW/400Nm 3.0 6cyl petrol turbo | 8sp auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.0 l/100km | tested: 9.6 l/100km

 

OVERVIEW

Wagons - particularly fast ones - are a favourite here at Castle TMR.

At the top end of the price spectrum you'll find bullets like the $225,000 Audi RS6 Avant. Look to the budget end and there are equally likeable machines such as the $46,190 Holden Commodore SS Sportwagon.

What if you’re shopping somewhere in between? Well, the Mercedes C 63 AMG Estate is an option, albeit a pricier one at a shade over $156k.

The Benz is also fairly hardcore and quite small.

But if you’re after something a little bigger and a little more civilised, then BMW has got you covered. Enter the 535i Touring.

 

THE INTERIOR

  • Standard features: sat nav, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing LED headlamps, surround-view camera, keyless entry/ignition, power front seats, head-up display, leather upholstery.
  • Audio/visual: Harman/Kardon stereo, digital radio tuner, USB input, Bluetooth phone and audio integration, internet connectivity, iDrive control interface with touchpad input.
  • 40/20/40 split rear seat, release handles in boot area.
  • Powered tailgate. Separately opening tailgate glass. Motorised cargo blind.

Forward of the B-pillar, it’s much the same interior as the 5 Series sedan, which we’ve covered extensively in the past.

We will say this though: it’s roomy up front, comfortable, and there’s plenty of high-quality materials in use. The dash design is also easy on the eyes, as is the new reconfigurable LCD instrument panel.

The back seat has a smidge more headroom owing to the Touring’s longer roof, and there's plenty of sprawling space there for kids and adults alike.

The high centre-tunnel does impinge on the middle passenger’s legroom however, and there’s no B-pillar vent like there is in higher-grade versions of the 5 Series sedan.

And then there’s what’s behind those seats. The boot measures 590 litres with the adjustable backrests of the second row moved to their most upright position, and swells to 1670 litres with them folded down.

But while those numbers are good, it’s the way the load area is designed that makes a difference.

There are rails embedded in the boot floor that take accessory tie-down points or adjustable cargo barriers, while the flat floor and sheer width of the boot means loading the widest of flat-pack furniture will rarely pose a challenge.

The boot floor is also flush with the loading lip, and it rises on a hydraulic strut to reveal a shallow area that’s handy to store smaller items (or rail accessories when you’re not using them).

The tailgate is electric, and the glass can be opened independently when you just want to throw a couple of small bags in the back.

Handily, the retractable cargo-blind rises automatically whenever the tailgate glass or the tailgate itself is opened.

The rear seatbacks can be dropped by pulling a lever mounted in the boot area, and the cargo blind also features an integrated retractable mesh barrier that plugs into the roof.

There’s a 12-volt outlet in the boot area too, but curiously just one bag hook. It’s the only oversight we can find in this well thought-out space.

 

ON THE ROAD

  • Turbo petrol 3.0 litre inline six, 225kW/400Nm
  • 8sp automatic with steering wheel shift paddles, rear wheel drive.
  • Electric power steering
  • 19-inch alloys with run-flat tyres (245/40R19 Goodyear Excellence)

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We love BMW’s 3.0 litre turbo six. It’s smooth, powerful and has a torque curve as wide as Uluru.

225kW ain’t nothing to sneeze at, and the 535i can gather speed impressively quick.

BMW claims it’ll run to 100km/h from rest in just 5.8 seconds, which is quite a bit faster than the average hot-hatch.

This engine produces 400Nm of torque between 1200 and 5000rpm, which gives the 535i tremendous flexibility.

It’s happy to chug along at low revs, but is equally content to chase its redline. In either mode (and everywhere inbetween), it pulls like a freight train.

This engine is married to BMW’s ubiquitous eight-speed auto, which we’ve sung the praises of many a time. With plenty of ratios to choose from and the ability to bang out super-crisp shifts, it’s as adaptable as the engine it’s bolted to.

But let’s not forget handling. Our car came equipped with the optional M Sport package, which brings a lower ride-height and sportier suspension tune.

It sounds like it might compromise comfort on poor quality roads, but it doesn’t. Instead, the 535i rides confidently over lumpy tarmac.

The standard Goodyear Excellence tyres are oriented towards comfort rather than performance, but there’s still a good amount of grip to exploit.

It’s got great balance too (as you’d expect of a BMW) and can be hustled really quickly around a corner.

The steering is a low point though. Not only does it feel extraordinarily vague around dead-centre, but it fails to transmit much meaningful feedback to the fingertips.

It gets better the further you turn it, but it’s still pretty wooden.

 

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - the 5 Series sedan scored 36.53 out of 37 possible points.

Safety features: Stability control (switchable), traction control (switchable), ABS, EBD, brake assist, six airbags, anti-whiplash front headrests.

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

The 535i Touring is a very likeable car, and the perfect option for a family-bound enthusiast who has no interest in an SUV.

And though a $122,900 pricetag is far from cheap, it’s a lot more affordable than its chief rival, the $136k Mercedes-Benz E400 Estate - and better equipped too.

The only downsides we can see are the rear seat being not quite comfortable enough for three occupants thanks to that tall centre tunnel, the lifeless steering and the provision of only one bag hook in the boot area.

Those niggles aside, this is a tremendously attractive - and rather indecently quick - family car.

 

Pricing (excludes on-road costs)

  • BMW 520i Sedan $79,900
  • BMW 520d Sedan $82,400
  • BMW 528i Sedan $97,400
  • BMW 535i Sedan $116,900
  • BMW ActiveHybrid 5 $119,900
  • BMW 535d Sedan $121,900
  • BMW 550i Sedan $159,900
  • BMW 520d Touring $90,900
  • BMW 535i Touring $122,900 (+ M Sport kit)
  • BMW 520d Gran Turismo $93,900
  • BMW 530d Gran Turismo $108,900
  • BMW 535i Gran Turismo $117,900

 
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