2014 BMW 535d (3.0L 6-cyl. Turbo Diesel 8-speed Automatic)
Driven On 1/14/2014
The BMW 535d brings not just a new level of fuel economy to the midsize luxury segment, but a level of driveability previously unheard of for turbodiesels. It acts like, well, a normal engine. Although the 535d costs a few thousand more than its rivals, the superior fuel mileage means you'll recoup those costs at the pump, and the refinement is worth it.
PerformanceThe 535d's terrific turbodiesel six-cylinder performs as well or better than most of its V6 gasoline competitors. The 5 Series' handling numbers aren't fantastic, and the car is heavy, but the well-tuned suspension helps it drive smaller than it is.
The 3.0-liter inline-6 produces 413 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a near-seamless 8-speed automatic transmission, the 535d hits 60 mph in a scant 5.8 seconds, making it as quick as a gasoline 535i.
With its summer tires, the 535d stopped from 60 mph in just 110 feet, excellent for the segment. The brake pedal delivered a nice, consistent firmness and they were never touchy around town.
The 535d's nicely-weighted steering is fed through a thick-rimmed, leather-wrapped steering wheel. The steering has a nice turn-in, and the driver can choose between three different settings.
The 535d feels lighter on its feet than its 4,080 pounds suggest. Point it toward a turn and it's a willing partner -- you'll forget all about it being a low-revving diesel. Stable and driver-friendly at all times.
The auto start/stop system (which can be shut off) is annoying in stop-and-go traffic. It even turns off at quick stops like stop signs. No standard backup camera. Otherwise, supple throttle and a lurch-free automatic.
ComfortDespite run-flat summer tires, which typically deliver a harsh ride, we found the 535d to be comfortable and amazingly quiet relative to both other diesels and gasoline sedans. The non-reclining rear seatbacks need more rake.
Wide front seats offer tons of adjustments to fit all body styles. The padding is firm yet comfortable, with supple leather. Wide center armrest. The rear seat cushions are plush, though the seatback is a bit hard and could use more rake.
The ride is never ultra-plush, but also never harsh. Some vibrations make their way into the cabin on certain surfaces, probably due to the sidewall stiffness of the summer runflat tires on our test car.
So quiet inside, you forget you're driving a diesel. Even at highway speeds you can't hear the engine, and it's the quietest car in the class at full throttle. Wind noise is near nil, though some minor tire hum.
InteriorThis is a well-built and elegantly-styled interior. The controls deliver a quality feel. Amazingly wide-opening doors allow easy entry/exit. The trunk is oddly narrow, and some of the navigation system's icons are too small.
Superb driving position. All controls have a quality, damped action. Good detents on the climate control knobs, steering wheel is a tactile delight. Super-wide display screen, though some nav icons are small.
Front doors open almost 90 degrees, making entry/exit a snap. The rear doors open almost as wide, though entry is compromised slightly by the rear wheelwell. Footbox is on the smaller side back there, too.
Decent front headroom, despite standard sunroof. Nice, wide center armrest. Plenty of room for driver's right knee against the center console. Rear headroom is fine, but the front seat compromises rear foot room.
Excellent view out the front, but thick side pillars require extra care (and looks) for lane changes. Rearmost pillars are surprisingly narrow and rear window is tall and wide. But no standard backup camera or sensors.
Ssmall center armrest bin and big points for the anti-tip front cupholders. Narrow door pockets have a nice felt lining. The useable part of the 14.0 cu-ft trunk is narrow, though deep.
ValueThe $57,525 BMW 535d is several thousand dollars more than most midsize luxury competitors, including about $1,500 more than a gasoline BMW 535i. That said, its impressive fuel economy will quickly make up for the initial higher cost.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Pricey, yes, but it gets high marks for the superb look and feel of the materials. Everything about this car exudes quality, from the fine leather to the tight trim pieces to the beautiful, huge display screen.
The 535d lacks a few features we'd expect to be standard at this price, the most noticeable being a backup camera. Standard items include a sunroof, adaptive headlights, navigation and Nappa leather seats.
Our test model had the $3,150 M Sport package, largely a trim and appearance upgrade. The $1,500 Premium pack includes a power trunk and smart key. The total price was $66,425. Without a backup camera.
The EPA rates the 535d at 30 mpg Combined (26 City/38 Highway). We easily managed 34.7 mpg on our 116-mile evaluation loop. Only the less powerful Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec can beat these numbers in the class.
Both the basic and drivetrain warranties last for 4 years/50,000 miles. These are pretty much standard for the segment.
Maintenance is covered for 4 years/50,000 miles, including oil changes, drive belts, wiper blades, brake pads and discs, and brake fluid.
Fun To DriveConsidering the 535d is a rather heavy diesel sedan, it performs exceptionally well. Everyday driving is a breeze. Point it toward the twisties and it reacts like a proper sport sedan. The diesel's instant-on torque makes corner exits a hoot.
The driving experience is superb whether compared to other diesels or traditional gasoline engines. It's incredibly quiet, never rattly and has plenty of power for passing. Fewer trips to the pump are helpful, too.
The 535d does so many things well, and it does them all easily. You'll forget it's a diesel. If you want to get sporty with it, you can shift the automatic transmission manually and it blips the throttle on downshifts.