First Drive: Bimmerfest Takes the 2014 BMW 535d for a Test Drive

by Mark Jurista on November 12, 2013, 11:44 am
BMW 535d

The BMW model lineup keeps expanding at an almost exhaustive rate and one of the focus points continues to be the diesel models that are available to us here in the United States. One of those diesel variants is the 2014 BMW 535d that boasts a inline six-cylinder 3.0-liter with BMWs TwinPower turbo technology. This is not your average diesel as it produces an eye popping 413 lb-ft of torque and a very usable 255 horsepower to propel the 535d from zero to sixty in 5.8 seconds.

From the moment I set foot in the 535d and hit the start button I was surprised by just how quiet the engine was if it werent for the instrument panel I may not have even realized the engine was running. While mashing on the throttle, you got a slight increase in sound from the motor coming to life but it seemed almost too quiet. The exhaust note may well increase through a thorough break-in period of the 535d but I would not expect this car to turn many heads for how loud it is.

BMW 535d

The best part about the 2014 Dark Graphite Metallic 535d may just be the amount of torque that is provided throughout the rev range. This is important given that the rear-wheel drive version of the 535d weighs in at 4,085 pounds and the all-wheel drive variant topping the scales at 4,255 pounds. From the moment you step on the throttle, you feel like you have all the power you could need. Whether you are throwing the car through some back country roads or stomping on the gas to leap past slower traffic on the highway, the 535d seems to have the power to propel you where you want to go. The only negative was a leveling out of power near the top of the rev range but that could easily be dealt with by manually shifting with the paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel.

Driving the 2014 BMW 535d around the back roads in Washington State left me with a good impression of the car overall. The BMW was more than capable of bringing a smile to your face through the twisty sections of the roads but was smooth enough for a long and comfortable trip on the highway. I would have preferred a bit more sound and wish the steering could get back to the feedback you received from the hydraulic days but I have to say it is getting better every year.

BMW 535d

The big question is would I buy it and that is tough one. If I was in the market for a 5 Series I would seriously have to consider the 535d over the 535i. The torque is phenomenal in the diesel and aligns more with how I drive a car. Add in the additional 7mpg combined highway fuel economy over the 535i (20/29/23 for the 535i and 26/37/30 for the 535d) and the reasoning for buying the diesel keeps adding up. The final winning vote for me is when you factor in that the 535d xDrive is only $1,500 more than the 535i xDrive. If BMW brings back the eco credit that would make the starting price lower on the diesel than on the gasoline version which would make this an easy choice for me in picking the 535d.

One more note to consider. If you are open to a Sport Activity Vehicle, I would highly recommend you take the 2014 X5 xDrive35d (read our first drive report here) out for a spin as well. If you toss that into the mix, I would buy that every time over both the 535i and the 535d.
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23 responses to First Drive: Bimmerfest Takes the 2014 BMW 535d for a Test Drive

raleedy commented:
November 12, 2013, 12:15 pm

You're making the wrong comparison. Performance and economy of the F10 diesel are much more comparable to the 528 than to the 535. The price difference there is more than $7,000.
pix335i commented:
November 12, 2013, 12:31 pm

I'm not sure I would agree with comparing the 4 cylinder 528i with the 6 cylinder 535d but you are correct about the economy of the 528i being better than the 535i. The 528i gets closer to the fuel economy of the 535d with a combined 26 mpg but the 535d still wins. For performance, I'd take the 535d over both the 528i and 535i. Don't get me wrong, if you are looking for absolute value then the 528i makes sense. The problem to me is that the 528i produces 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque versus 255 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque on the 535d.

If you leave the potential for an eco credit out of the equation I can see how you might choose the cost savings of a 528i over a 535d but if a $3,500 eco credit comes around then I'm not sure I could in good faith recommend someone take the 528i over the 535d. It really does depend on what you are going to use the car for though so it really can't be a blanket recommendation either.
Needsdecaf commented:
November 12, 2013, 8:41 pm

I have a diesel with 240 HP and 406 ft-lbs in my Cayenne. After driving that car quite a bit, I would likely not order a diesel in a 5 series. Unless the BMW engine has a lot more top end, it just doesn't have the pizazz that I'd be looking for. I enjoyed spinning around my N55 to the redline. In the diesel, not so much.

Having said that, I love it in the Cayenne. It's a great combo and just makes so much sense in a large vehicle like a Cayenne or an X5. And I suppose if you're looking for luxury in your sedan, it's a good choice too. But I'm looking for a sports sedan, personally, and I'd go for a gasser engine. Would be a great offering in the 7 series too...BMW is remiss not to offer it there.
ImolaRedM commented:
November 12, 2013, 9:09 pm

The engine in the 535i falls just short, IMO. I would have liked to see a 540i with the LCI but that didn't happen. The few extra HP would have been much better in that bigger chassis. I found the 535i a bit too sedate and isolated and the fuel tank on the 550i too small for my commute. I don't like to make frequent trips to the gas station in a daily driver.

The inline 6 in the 535i is a wonderful engine. I absolutely love the big six engines but the F10 is a big and heavy car. I have never driven the 528i and I'm sure it's a good car but I don't care for a 4 cylinder engine for the same reason I wanted a little more umph in the 35i. The 535d is faster than the the 35d on the X5 so that's not a good comparison. 535i vs 535d is a good comparison but like the 535i, I would have liked a few more HP on the US Spec 535d too. A good compromise for me given the current options is the 535d. Given the option of a 540i, then I would have gone with the I6 540i. That said, price was not the biggest consideration when making my discussion. I could have easily picked up a 550i well optioned for what I paid for the 535d.
raleedy commented:
November 12, 2013, 10:34 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by pix335i View Post
I'm not sure I would agree with comparing the 4 cylinder 528i with the 6 cylinder 535d but you are correct about the economy of the 528i being better than the 535i. The 528i gets closer to the fuel economy of the 535d with a combined 26 mpg but the 535d still wins. For performance, I'd take the 535d over both the 528i and 535i. Don't get me wrong, if you are looking for absolute value then the 528i makes sense. The problem to me is that the 528i produces 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque versus 255 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque on the 535d.

If you leave the potential for an eco credit out of the equation I can see how you might choose the cost savings of a 528i over a 535d but if a $3,500 eco credit comes around then I'm not sure I could in good faith recommend someone take the 528i over the 535d. It really does depend on what you are going to use the car for though so it really can't be a blanket recommendation either.
I certainly understand people's preference for the sixes and resistance to the N20 4 and all. But I can't understand the case for the 535d unless it is based on fuel economy and range and for that purpose the 535i isn't all that comparable. While the 535d has more horsepower and torque than the 528i, the advantage is offset by a substantial weight penalty making real-world performance prettty similar. The torque of the diesel is entertaining, but beyond that I don't think the diesel offers much to the connoisseur of a high-revving six. People who haven't tried it might be surprised to experience the smoothness and pulling power of the turbo 4.
Bmwlvr60 commented:
November 12, 2013, 11:10 pm

I have the LCI 528ix and am very happy with it. For me it has plenty of power, and gets good mpg. That said, if the Eco credit becomes available in the future it would be fun for me to have the extra torque and horsepower and even better mpg. Adding DHP and merino leather to the 535d made it a $12k more expensive car than my 528 so it was hard for me to justify.
ImolaRedM commented:
November 12, 2013, 11:20 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by raleedy View Post
While the 535d has more horsepower and torque than the 528i, the advantage is offset by a substantial weight penalty making real-world performance prettty similar.

Using bmw.com data since the bmwusa.com site only lists GVWR

535i Unladen weight: 1765 kg
530d Unladen weight: 1785 kg (530d EU spec = 535d US spec)
528i Unladen weight: 1700 kg
550i Unladen weigh: 1905 kg

There is a 44 lb difference between the 535i and 535d.



F10___________528i_____535i_____535d_____550d
kg____________1700_____1765_____1785_____1905
lb____________3740_____3883_____3927_____4191
HP_____________241______302______255______443
Torque lb/ft___258______295______413______479
lb/HP________15.52____12.86____15.40____9.460
lb/lb-ft_____14.50____13.16_____9.51____8.749
raleedy commented:
November 13, 2013, 12:54 am

And a difference of 85 kg (187 lb) difference between the 535d and the 528i, which is the comparison I am making.
MikeZap commented:
November 13, 2013, 11:26 am

Interesting that the unladen weight of the 535i is 3,883 lbs. My brouchure for my previous 2011 says 4,068 (MT) and 4,090 (AT). This would indicate a 200 lb reduction. Wonder if there is any validity to that. My 2014 sure feels more agile than my 2011
raleedy commented:
November 13, 2013, 11:31 am

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeZap View Post
Interesting that the unladen weight of the 535i is 3,883 lbs. My brouchure for my previous 2011 says 4,068 (MT) and 4,090 (AT). This would indicate a 200 lb reduction. Wonder if there is any validity to that. My 2014 sure feels more agile than my 2011
I suspect you are comparing curb weights (what the brochure used to state) with unladen weights from the European website. I don't believe unladen weights include fluids. Another possibility is equipment differences. (A base car in Europe would not have many of the things a US-spec car has.) What I think is not possible is that the LCI took 200 lb. out of the 535i.
pix335i commented:
November 13, 2013, 11:33 am

Based on the fact sheets I have for the 2014 BMW 5 Series, these are the curb weights:

528i - 3,814
528i xDrive - 4,001

535i - 4,090
535i xDrive - 4,233

535d - 4,085
535d xDrive - 4,255

550i - 4,365
550i xDrive - 4,519

ActiveHybrid5 - 4,365
ImolaRedM commented:
November 13, 2013, 11:40 am

It could be a difference between EU and US models but 200 lbs is quite a lot of options. I suspect that you are looking at curb (kerb) weight which includes fluids. In the EU, curb weight also includes the weight of a driver. Unladen weight is the empty vehicle.

If BMW did reduce weight on the LCI, I would expect it to be big news. Not something that is hidden or abstracted. The primary criticism of the F10 has been weight. But then again, BMW does seem to be promoting weight by confusing people in reporting the LCI using GVWR rather than its curb or unladen weight. GVWR is the maximum operating weight (passengers, cargo, fuel, etc)


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d geek commented:
November 13, 2013, 12:58 pm

nice write-up!
d geek commented:
November 13, 2013, 1:07 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by raleedy View Post
... While the 535d has more horsepower and torque than the 528i, the advantage is offset by a substantial weight penalty making real-world performance prettty similar. ..
What metric? The 'd is about 1/2 sec quicker (0-100kph).
Sophisto commented:
November 13, 2013, 1:36 pm

I have just past the 100k kms in my F11 530D 245 hp from dec 2010.

The car is big.
And heavy.
Fast enough, and very enjoyable in highway traffic
It drives very well, but it really is not a very responsive twisties lover.
For that I prefer another more nimble car.

The diesel is an overperformer on long distance highway (family) cruises.
Passing Amsterdam, Antwerp, lille, Paris for arriving after 850 kms in Beaune without any stop in under 7 hours is possile.
I prefer to make a restaurant stop during this frequently made trip, so mostly we take 8 hours for our transfer.
Whith a full tank at the start I do not have to refill during these trips.

Some years ago I posted some real fast traveling numbers through Germany, impressive low consumption numbers at high speeds are what you get with this diesel powered 5 series generation BMW's.
raleedy commented:
November 13, 2013, 3:19 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by d geek View Post
What metric? The 'd is about 1/2 sec quicker (0-100kph).
I suppose 0.5 seconds is meaningful to some, but it is pretty expensively gained in this comparison. I wonder what the 80-120 kph comparison would look like.
Sophisto commented:
November 13, 2013, 5:38 pm

I searched BMW.de, but did not find BMW figures for the 80-120 time of the 530D....
Big difference between the six cilindres petrol/diesel is that in the diesel the zf transmission is more capable to handle the torque.
The six inline diesel has the 700nm capable zf8hp70
gspannu commented:
November 13, 2013, 6:33 pm

Nice write up.... but if you think the 535D is a great car; wait until you drive the real 535D. Most readers may (or may not!) be aware that the 535D as sold in the UK is actually the 530D (as sold in UK, Europe, other parts of the world).

The real 535D is an absolute diesel super car that disguises itself as a family saloon !

or as Top Gear presenter (Jeremy Clarkson) says Rudolf would have been proud...
http://www.topgear.com/uk/bmw/5-series/road-test/535d
Fastpaddler commented:
November 13, 2013, 6:34 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by pix335i View Post
I'm not sure I would agree with comparing the 4 cylinder 528i with the 6 cylinder 535d but you are correct about the economy of the 528i being better than the 535i. The 528i gets closer to the fuel economy of the 535d with a combined 26 mpg but the 535d still wins. For performance, I'd take the 535d over both the 528i and 535i. Don't get me wrong, if you are looking for absolute value then the 528i makes sense. The problem to me is that the 528i produces 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque versus 255 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque on the 535d.

If you leave the potential for an eco credit out of the equation I can see how you might choose the cost savings of a 528i over a 535d but if a $3,500 eco credit comes around then I'm not sure I could in good faith recommend someone take the 528i over the 535d. It really does depend on what you are going to use the car for though so it really can't be a blanket recommendation either.
2014 BMW 535xi DIESEL NOW HERE!


By Dilawri BMW / MINI Updated about a month ago

2014 BMW 535xi DIESEL NOW HERE!

It's true...it's finally here! Many cars out there have something special about them....handling is crisp....fuel economy is amazing....features and options are great...or sheer performance is unmatched. Ever wonder what it would look like if you mashed them all together into one car?? It's called the 2014 BMW 535xi diesel!


It's the best of everything. Fast, ultra economical and with all the toys. Navigation, ventilated seats, heads up display, 5 cameras, power tailgate, lane departure, blind sport monitors and laser cruise control! You've never driven something like this with the perfect blend of everything you want!
We have two of these on ground and many more incoming. We also have the new BMW 3 Series with diesel and Xdrive all wheel drive in transit too!

Hi from Fastpaddler with my 2 cents!!
Here's some shocking data:

1. 0-60 is 5.6 seconds....this is exceptionally fast.

2. 58MPG highway or 4.9L/100kms...this is the same as a Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

3. Over 1000kms to a tank of fuel.

4. Xdrive all wheel drive....winter driving is a breeze!

5. 5 Series fit and finish....smooth and quiet highway cruising. Room for kids and very plush.

YES.I agree. I have a 528i(6cyl 2011).I am debating the 535xi soon OR the 535d now that I have seen it and reviewed it. I have a diesel-powered(MB) in my Sprinter RV and it is impressive:torque and mpg.Even though prices are higher here the 535xi or 535d are both well worth the loot if you have it. The above stats are for a Canadian model ergo, the litres and Kms note.

AL
DrBrian commented:
November 16, 2013, 9:09 am

I have driven a 535i X drive for a year. Great car. Last week I drove a 535d X drive. I love the 535i, but I found that the 535d was absolutely as responsive, FULL of power, and very quiet. I do a LOT of highway driving, and it will save me (in Canada, where diesel fuel is relatively inexpensive) about 33% or more on top of already excellent 535i mileage. This means WELL over 1000 km on a tank of fuel. Coupled with head up, improvement to navigation, adaptive cruise, etc... the car is absolutely stellar....So...I bought my first diesel. Jet black, Nappa leather, delivery in December.
piredon commented:
November 16, 2013, 9:12 am

It would interesting to put an un-informed test driver in a 528i and 535d back to back and ask them which one they thought was the diesel. You know, the type that has no idea how many cylinders their car has? Cover the badges so as not to give any clues.

I am most impressed with how hard it is to tell the 535d is a diesel from the inside. I guaranty it sounds a hell of a lot better than that 2.0 liter, though I've only experienced that engine in an X3 (sounds horrible) and a 3 series (better, but nothing close to the old NA 3.0 I6). The N57 sounds a lot like an inline six and very little like an oil burner.

I cross-shopped my 535d with mainly with a 550i. I decided that the upfront savings, coupled with a 500 mile range vs 300 miles offset the power deficit. But I wanted the best (excluding M5) all-around 5 series I could get, taking into account packaging, fuel economy, speed, etc. You can't get some of the best options on a 528i, and it's the slowest, so it was never in the running. The 535i is slightly faster than the 535d, but gets much worse mileage, and everyone seems to have one. The 535d is at least for the moment, fairly unique in this country. The 550i is a monster, and the one you'd ultimately want to have, but a 300 mile range would be tiresome, and you can't use that extra power 95% of the time. It's also the heaviest 5 series, and 5 series is a heavy car to begin with. 4500 lbs is a mid-sized SUV, for goodness sake. Packaging also forced about a $6,000 price increase with the options I wanted vs 535d. But it was still the 550i that provided the most competition in terms of which 5 series I bought. And to be honest, I'm still feeling like it might have been worth it. There is nothing like that N63 V8. But my choice has been made, and I know in my head at least that the 535d was the right one for me.
DrBrian commented:
November 16, 2013, 9:23 am

Hey... I think you made the right decision. I too had thought about a 550, and could have swung the money without a big problem. However, you're right. There's almost no time you can use the extra power, and....I can't stand stopping at gas stations all the time...and it's an utter waste of money (the extra gas). Good decision!
shogunman commented:
November 16, 2013, 10:26 am

Adding 2014 ActiveHybrid5 to the mix. I am always ONLY into leasing so I think in terms of monthly payments (with zero down). The payment per month on it is same as 2014 528i since there is a $4500 eco credit which drops the payment on the car by $120 with it's current residual of 55%. Gas mileage is similar to a 528i. The power is great - phenomenal actually (I drove a 2013 AH5 for about 2 weeks - exchanged with a friend). The trunk is about 30 percent smaller than other 5 series but it still quite enough IMHO. Plus, the badge looks much classy than any other 5 series badges.

Something to think about.....

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