My used BMW 530d: Exploring its driving dynamics via a 750 km road trip

All my previous cars have been remapped, but this is the first car that I think has “sufficient” power in stock form.

BHPian d3mon recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Last weekend, we went to Hampi for a quick 3-day break. As we stayed in the same accommodation as KarthikK did and roamed about in similar places, I’m linking his travelogue here, as I can never match his fantastic photos/description of Hampi.

The ~750 km trips (including local running around) gave me a great chance to explore Trie’s dynamics and especially the adaptive suspension in great detail.

On arrow straight highways with the dampers in Sport mode, it’s astonishing how flat, composed and glued to the road she is at high speeds. Imperfections do filter in quite a bit, but the car feels super sporty and never bobs, or exhibits any kind of wave-like behaviour. Any kind of undulation/road irregularity is dismissed immediately within 0.25 seconds and the car doesn’t take any time to settle back, because it never loses its composure at all. I’d wager that the car is about as stiff or maybe even slightly stiffer in Sport mode at high speeds than the M340i, which I’ve experienced only as a passenger. So it’s fair to say that almost nobody will wish for a stiffer suspension at speed than the 530d already provides in sport mode.

On the same kind of roads, if you switch the dampers to comfort, the car takes on an entirely different personality. The sharp edges are mostly filtered out, but the cost is that you do get a long wave kind of motion, which takes anywhere from 0.5-1.5 seconds to settle down after a road undulation. Like the motion which Volvo buses with air suspension make, but obviously far, far more controlled and with lower amplitude. The wave-like vertical motion in Comfort mode means that the Sport mode actually feels more comfortable for longer distances on good pavement at higher speeds. But on broken / not-so-good road surfaces where the road imperfections filter in quite a bit in Sport mode, Comfort mode is a godsend. I was able to fly over cracked/imperfect 2-lane concrete roads around Hampi at 80+ with ease in Comfort mode, where the Sport mode got quite uncomfortable. The differences are immediately apparent, and one time when I left the car in Sport on such roads, I immediately got asked my spouse if I had forgotten to switch the car to Adaptive / Comfort mode.

At lower speeds, as the dampers slacken off regardless of the modes, both comfort and sport modes remain quite comfortable, with a lower difference felt between the 2 modes.

The onward journey was fairly relaxed which resulted in some incredible fuel efficiency numbers. This data is door-to-door for the entire trip, with all sorts of roads from 1/2/4/6 lane highways. I mean, I better check if I have been given a rebadged 4-cylinder 520d instead of a 530d!

The secret to the efficiency is the drag coefficient of just 0.24 and the tall gearing. 100 km/h comes up at just tick over in 8th gear. The 8th gear is about 85 kmph/1000 rpm, which means theoretically you can do 170 km/h @ 2000 rpm!

My preferred modes were:

  • Engine: Sport Plus
  • Dampers: Sport
  • Steering: Sport
  • Transmission: Comfort

Keeping the transmission in Comfort allows for relaxed cruising, with instant power available at the top of your right foot. The ZF8 gives you a quick downshift that instantly puts you back in the torque band and you just take off.

All my previous cars have been remapped, but this is the first car that I think has “sufficient” power in stock form. And I used to be someone who said that you can never have enough power.

Of course, I may just end up eating my words later on and get a remap, but for now, I’m very happy with the stock tune.

This is from driving sedately between 100-120 km/h for a few km before I got bored.

An interesting milestone of 12,345 km passed on the way.

Trie insisted on taking many pictures of herself at the hotel entrance.

Trie getting up close and personal with a Tree in the background.

The return journey was tackled even more quickly – about 20 mins faster. Both the onward and return journeys were done in absolute comfort and there wasn’t a shred of tiredness after the journeys. This is exactly the kind of Grand Touring that Trie was built for and I hope we’ll be able to go on much longer journeys that don’t look like child’s play like this one was.

Now for some geeky stuff. The DPF regen hadn’t come on for 700+ km (!) so I thought I’ll trigger it myself, even though there was no need for it. This long interval was due to the highway driving, which keeps regenerating the DPF passively due to the naturally high temperatures during quick bursts of acceleration.

You can see the high temps of 623C at the DPF inlet which leads to the soot captured in the DPF being burned off.

The turbocharger spins up at a top speed of 185,000 rpm! Trie is the first car that I’ve encountered that has a turbo speed sensor built in, which means that BMW can extract the max boost from the turbo without any possibility of turbo overspeed, regardless of ambient conditions.

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