I’ve been on the road a fair amount, and we wanted to put miles on the Bimmer because our time is running short on the long-term loan.
The keys found their way into the pocket of managing editor Rusty Kurtz, who said he was surprised to find a turbo-four under the hood. “It was very smooth and quiet,” he said, but the power was disappointing at this price point. “For this much, it ought to be faster.” Evidently, Rusty’s experiences with other turbo-fours—most notably his personal 2.3-liter EcoBoost Mustang—have not been as civilized.
We also continue to be impressed by the efficiency and precision of the BMW’s smart cruise control system. It always slows down just as a driver would, unlike many systems that wait a couple beats too late, prompting the nervous, “Is it gonna work this time?” micropanic as one’s foot hovers over the brake pedal. Instead, the BMW makes short work of SoCal’s gnarly traffic and the high-speed interstate system once the traffic clears.
But back to gridlock. The 530i’s collision warning system has saved our bacon several times. Searching among the numerous March Madness feeds on satellite radio meant taking one’s eyes off the road, if but for a second. But Pacific Coast Highway through the South Bay beach cities has a preponderance of lane jumpers and panic brakers—and the 530i keeps its eyes up when ours aren’t, ready with a warning and a firm stomp on the brake when necessary.
The Motor Trend parking lot can be a crowded affair, especially when Jonny Lieberman brings in his F-250 long-termer. We tend to back into our parking spaces for ease of exit. And in this aspect, the 530i might be the best in the business. The front, rear, and 360-degree cameras are sharp and precise, and the proximity sensors are informative rather than intrusive. Rusty’s home in the gentrifying enclave of San Pedro has a rather tight parking spot, “but the 360 view made it a breeze,” he noted.
Rusty’s satisfaction with the Bimmer was soon ended when he tried to link his smartphone. Like many of us, he found the 530i recalcitrant to pair the first time and then slow to connect each time thereafter. Bummer.
As we approached 20,000 miles on the BMW’s odometer, a service call was in order—especially because the unoccupied passenger seat belt chime had returned with a vengeance. Another software reflash appears to have solved the problem, in addition to the no-cost oil change and cabin-air microfilter replacement. But these sorts of electrical gremlins make us shake our heads when people brag about German quality. Everyone has bad days on the assembly line, it seems.
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