2007 BMW 530xi
2007 BMW 530xi. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Chris Chase

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Photo Gallery: 2007 BMW 5-series

Ottawa, Ontario – “Welcome home, baby!” A few weeks ago, my cousin and her husband had their second child; a C-section birth meant that mom and baby had to spend a few days in hospital afterward. As her husband doesn’t drive, she asked if I could give them a ride home when her doctor gave her the all-clear.

Well, of course. Why would I say no to an opportunity to put a few more clicks on a BMW 5 Series? People always ask me what I’m driving “this week,” and my cousin was very impressed when I told her. The little one, not so much: she’s young and still has a lot to learn. Good thing I’m here.

Thankfully, none of them cared that this was a 2007 model, and that the 2008 5 Series is already on sale, with new powerplants and revised styling inside and out. My tester was a 530xi, that little “x” the only outward indicator of the X-Drive all-wheel drive system hidden under this most recent 5er’s controversial sheet metal (while I wasn’t a big fan of it when this generation debuted a few years ago, it has grown on me significantly since then).

2007 BMW 530xi
2007 BMW 530xi. Click image to enlarge

My tester was powered by the more potent of BMW’s two outgoing 3.0-litre six-cylinder engines, with 255 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque; handling the power was a six-speed manual transmission. This powertrain was the middle child of the 2007 5-series line-up, flanked by a 215-hp 3.0-litre six (525i) and a 360-hp 4.8-litre V8 (550i). For 2008, only that V8 remains the same; the two lesser trims get a 230-hp, 3.0-litre six and a 300-hp, twin-turbo six, also displacing 3.0-litres.

The last 5 Series I drove was a 2006 530xi Touring – same drivetrain, but with a wagon body style riding on top. Also, I drove that car in the winter, so while I knew that the X-Drive system handled snowy conditions well, my limited experience with this platform gave me little idea of what the car would be like on dry roads.

Opting for all-wheel drive adds 95 kg to the manual-tranny 530i’s curb weight, but that doesn’t take away from the brand’s trademark over-the-road feel. Road imperfections are absorbed without drama or a whole lot of noise, despite the 18-inch wheels and low-profile run-flat tires my tester wore as part of the M Sport package.

2007 BMW 530xi
2007 BMW 530xi. Click image to enlarge

And if there’s a difference in handling between my tester and one without that little “x” on the trunklid, I suspect BMW has made sure it’s as minimal as possible. In any event, the limitations of rear-wheel drive in wintry conditions, as well as a BMW’s owner’s desire to protect their investment, might see any handling deficit (not to mention the added price) as a worthwhile trade-off.

If you’re a car nut, you don’t need me to tell you that BMW’s manual shifters and clutches are some of the nicest around, and my tester didn’t disappoint. Those items, and the easy-to-modulate brakes, meant the car was easy to drive smoothly, perfect for ensuring an undisturbed rest for the little one in the back seat.

2007 BMW 530xi
2007 BMW 530xi. Click image to enlarge

That M Sport Package, on top of the bigger wheels, also brings a leather-trimmed “multifunction” sport steering wheel and sport seats. As I mentioned, the bigger wheels work fine (the lack of a spare also means there’s a nice wheel-sized under-floor cargo tray in the trunk) and BMW’s sport steering wheels are a real treat. That package is a pricey $6,500 extra, and the Premium Package also found here – it adds a garage door opener; auto dimming mirrors inside and out; a rear-seat pass-through with a ski bag; heated rear seats; a parking distance warning system and a terrific LOGIC7 sound system – carries a more palatable $3,800 price-tag. That’s more than $10,000 in options on a car that started out at $70,700.

Most of the extras were nice additions, but the seats left me scratching my head. Why? They weren’t all that comfortable, something my favourite front-seat passenger agreed on. While I didn’t mind having to scale the aggressive side bolsters to get in and out of the car, she did, and she was further put off by the lack of a lumbar adjustment.

2007 BMW 530xi
2007 BMW 530xi
2007 BMW 530xi. Click image to enlarge

I’m fairly forgiving of a less-than-perfect seat, but she’s got a touchy back, and is my “car-seat barometer,” if you will.

Interior space up front is good all around, but in the back, taller riders will find legroom tight, though headroom is more generous, at least in the outboard spots. The raised centre seat cushion and massive driveshaft tunnel eat into the space available for a fifth passenger.

And if I’ve come to terms with this current 5 Series’ styling, I may also be finally making peace – albeit an uneasy one – with iDrive. Leaving the climate controls on automatic meant I didn’t have to use the complicated system’s menus to change where the air comes from, and leaving iDrive in audio mode meant I didn’t have to futz around (too much) when I wanted a different radio station. Related to the audio system is the one minor fit-and-finish problem in my test car: a volume knob that was loose and felt cheap.

While the 255-horsepower engine doesn’t turn the 5 Series into a world-beater in drag races, it provides smooth and effortless acceleration; BMW claims a respectable 0-100 km/h sprint time of seven seconds flat.

2007 BMW 530xi
2007 BMW 530xi. Click image to enlarge

My light right foot revealed another positive side effect: reasonable fuel consumption, which I managed to limit to about 11.5 L/100 km in my week of 50/50 city/highway driving. That beats the Natural Resources Canada city rating of 12.1 L/100 km, and I suspect the 7.9 L/100 km highway rating might be achievable at reasonable highway speeds.

The performance numbers speak well for an engine that you soon won’t be able to find under a new 5 Series’ hood. BMW tells me there are “a few” of these outgoing cars left in inventory; there’s probably an opportunity for a good deal here, something that’s rare for cars wearing the blue-and-white roundel. If you asked me, I’d certainly consider looking into it if you’re in the market for a 5er.

2007 BMW 530xi
2007 BMW 530xi. Click image to enlarge

The hard part will be escaping the allure of the new 535i’s twin-turbo motor, with its seemingly inexhaustible and fluid power delivery. If you’re like me, that motor might make you reach for the calculator to see if there’s enough room in the budget for a Bimmer – any Bimmer – powered by that engine (for the record, a 2008 535xi, ostensibly the replacement for my test car, is worth $71,500).

I’ll be interested to see where the state of the 5 Series art is at when the latest addition to my extended family is old enough to drive. While she can’t yet appreciate the car she rode home in, with any luck she will by the time she gets her license. I guess I’ve got my work cut out for me; can anyone recommend any good children’s books about cars?

Pricing: 2007 BMW 530xi

  • Base price: $70,700
  • Options: $10,300 (M Sport Package of sport steering wheel, sport seats, 18-inch wheels with run-flat tires; $6,500 and Premium Package of garage door opener, auto dimming mirrors, rear-seat pass-through with ski bag, heated rear seats, park distance control and LOGIC7 stereo; $3,800)
  • Freight: $1,895
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Price as tested: $82,995 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives


  • Click here for complete specifications

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