New Car Review
1994 BMW 530i SEDAN
by: BILL RUSS
SEE ALSO:BMW Buyer's Guide
Until recently BMWs have mainly been powered by smooth, powerful inline six-cylinder engines. In the past few years to meet marketing and environmental needs BMW has introduced a series of new V8 and V12 powerplants for its large and mid-size cars. The V8 configuration is nothing new to BMW. Between the mid 1950s and early 1960s it produced a variety of V8 powered models, culminating with the classic 3200CS coupe.
For 1994, V8 power is available in the compact 5-series models. A 3.0 liter version of the newest V8 powers the new 530i. It is a 32- valve, double overhead cam, sequentially fuel-injected aluminum engine that develops 215 horsepower and is available with either a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission.
For those readers who are not familiar with BMW model designations here are a few words of explanation. The first of the three digit model number describes the broad series, i.e., 3 for 300 series for the smallest of the BMWs up through 5, 7 and 8 at the top for its powerful 800 luxury sport coupes. The second two digits indicate engine displacement in liters, i.e., 318 for the 1.8 liter four cylinder, 525 for the 2.5 liter inline six, 530 for the new 3.0 liter V8, and 850 for the 5.0 liter V12.
APPEARANCE: The 530i has traditional style in the manner of a Brooks Brothers suit. It is understated, functional, and well-made, denoting old-world tradition and status and not subject to transient vagaries of styling. In fact it is functionally boxy, with its rounded edges being almost the only concession to some of the current "aero" fashion. Minor cosmetic changes such as a slightly wider "kidneys" on the dual grille and cross-spoke alloy wheels were made to distinguish it from the 525i. It retains its trademark four round headlights and large heated side mirrors.
COMFORT: As a luxury sports/touring sedan the 530i has all of the appointments that befit its mission. Sumptuous leather upholstery, 10- way power and heated front seats, genuine wood trim, ergonomic arrangement of controls and instruments and a telescoping steering wheel are just some of the items that make driving the 530i a pleasure whether across town or across the state. An excellent dual setting temperature control system quietly maintains a comfortable climate throughout the cabin. A high-output 10-speaker AM\FM\cassette sound system provides good fidelity in urban areas. It is an automobile built by German engineers for German engineers - there are more ashtrays than cupholders, and a well-outfitted tool kit can be found on the underside of the trunk lid. Naturally, all of the power amenities are part of the package, and the onboard computer is a viable option.
SAFETY: To impart a feeling of security when driving or riding in this luxury/performance sedan BMW has incorporated much of the latest technology in safety for its occupants. Among the many items are dual front airbags, automatic front seatbelt tensioners, anti-lock brakes, an impact sensor that automatically unlocks doors and turns on lights and hazard flasher after and accident and a driveaway protection device that, when engaged, disables the engine.
ROADABILITY: Excellent road manners and taut handling have always been strong points for BMW, and the new 530i conforms to this tradition. Its four-wheel independent suspension is designed to provide a nimble but stable touring-style ride in a variety of road and weather conditions. The 530i feels smaller than is really is on tight "sports car" roads and can make taking the long way to work a joy. Driving security is assured by the use of engine-speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock braking and performance rated Pirelli tires. When cruising at highway speeds the 530i is super quiet with a minimum of road noise.
PERFORMANCE: BMW's new four-cam, 32 valve V8 is a jewel. It is a high-tech masterpiece of Teutonic engineering that exhibits the latest in engine building technology and performance, and provides a broad smooth range of power and spirited top-end performance. Power is applied to the rear wheels via an outstandingly well designed and easy- shifting five-speed manual gearbox. The manual gear knob is highly polished and uniquely shaped for easy shifting from gate to gate.
CONCLUSIONS: The new BMW 530i is currently the only sport/luxury sedan available with a manual transmission. Its well- matched powertrain can handle a great variety of driving conditions compently, smoothly and quietly. Its cabin is designed for comfort and safety. A great combination.
1994 BMW 530i SEDAN
Base Price $ 41,500 Price As Tested $ 42,750 Engine Type V-8, dohc - 32 valve, smpfi* Engine Size 3.0 liter/183 cid Horsepower 215 @ 5800 Torque (ft/lbs) 214 @ 4500 Wheelbase/Length 109"/186" Transmission five speed manual Curb Weight 3650 Pounds per Horsepower 17 Fuel Capacity 21 Fuel Requirement Unleaded premium (91 oct) Tires Pirelli P600 P225/60R15 95V Brakes anti-lock standard disc/disc Drive Train front engine/rear drive * smpfi - sequential multiport fuel injection PERFORMANCE EPA Economy - miles per gallon, city/highway/observed 16/23/19.6 0 to 60 mp 7.5 sec 1/4 mi (E.T.) 15.2 sec Coefficient of Drag (Cd) .32