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Engines on test: BMW TwinPower 3.0-liter diesel

Whilst the entire world looks happy to turn its back on diesel, BMW is persisting with the fuel source with its range of magnificent TwinPower engines, proving that mpg and performance aren't mutally exclusive. We see just how good the 3.0-liter engine is, in the all-new 530D X-Drive

 

It’s not very often we get a car in on test that immediate rockets to the top of the ‘that’s unanimously superb’ list in the office, but BMW’s 530d Xdrive – as fitted with the latest generation ‘TwinPower’ turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel engine – came pretty close.

As mainstream media attention continues to shine a light in the face of other manufacturers as it interrogates them over their questionable interpretations of the law, very little is being said of the amazing work others are doing to still champion diesel as a fuel source.

The engine in the 530d is a worthy bastion of the diesel concept; quiet, refined, explosively powerful and above all exceptionally economical. Using a 16.5:1 compression ratio, variable-geometry turbocharger technology in conjunction with commonrail direct injection and piezo injectors, operating at a maximum injection pressure of 2500-bar, the car is capable of producing 265hp at 4000rpm and an impressive 620Nm between 2000 and 2500rpm.

Out on the road, this translates to instant acceleration which is accompanied by a strangely petrol V8-esque burble at lower revs. The sound trials off from acoustically pleasing toward a gruffer more diesel-like rattle the higher the revs are taken. But this is a diesel, and with so much torque available so low down, there were very few occasions we found the car in this obscure part of the rev range. 

The 3.0-liter inline six architecture results in an exceptionally smooth delivery. In combination with the eight-speed steptronic transmission making progress is a delight. BMW’s official figures suggest a 5.6s dash to 60mph (100kmh), which on paper looks surprisingly conservative. Perhaps it is the sheer size of the 5-Series (comparable to a 2017 Range Rover in all but height) that makes the car feel faster, as it brushes past treelines down Surrey’s narrow country roads. The BMW's NVH levels must also be applauded; the company's new SYNTAK technology effectively cocooning the engine in sound-proof material ensures that vibrations and noises entering the cabin are kept to an absolute minimum.

Away from the engine are there are a couple of niggles with the car. The multiple ‘advanced’ driver warnings that vibrate through the wheel’s rim make making fast progress down narrow roads a disconcerting prospect; particularly if you are use to modulating your speed and inputs through uninterupted feedback through the wheel and pedals. 

That said though, on a motorway and fast A-road, it’s hard to think of a car that could do it better; particularly as the seat gently heats and kneads the stresses of life from your back as you skip through music with little more than an upper-class wave of the wrist in front of the large screen. And best of all, this is all done with little to no intrusion from either the engine or road noise, an engine that can muster up power from anywhere in the rev range and all in, a 700+ mile range, it may very well still be the best car to do any long distance commutes that we’ve ever tested.

 

9 August 2017

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