2014 BMW 535d Test Drive and Review

Diesel fans rejoice, though the 335d is no longer available in the US market, BMW has gifted us with the 2014 BMW 535d to hopefully mend our broken hearts.  How does it compare?  Does the BMW 535d work well on the 5 series F10 platform?  You will just have to read to find out.

As many of you may know, I am a big fan of the diesel motors.  I've waxed poetic as to why Porsche diesels make sense for the company.  I've even argued that the 3 series diesel is an eco option that is fun to drive.  I am excited to see BMW launching cars such as the 328d in sedan and wagon format.  Though true car enthusiasts were disappointed to find out you still can't buy a BMW diesel wagon with manual transmission...  You can get an X5 diesel, we have a 5 diesel and if rumors are to be believed, we may even see an X3 diesel here in the United States in 2014.  It's good to be a Euro diesel fan here in the states these days.  But can they drive?

2014 BMW 535d M Sport Package

On first inspection the BMW 535d looks very much like a regular 5 series.  Unless you walk around to the rear of the vehicle you can't tell what fuel it's running.  Once you start it, the 535d has that distinctive BMW diesel idle.  It's not too loud, it's not brutish but, there's still that hint of low-end torque rumble.  It features a Twin Power Turbo Inline 6 cylinder diesel capable of 255 horsepower and 413 lb/ft of torque.  The 5 series diesel is capable of a top speed of 130 MPH and can sprint from 0 to 60 in 5.8 seconds according to BMW.  Now this is probably on the conservative side though considering they always under report their sprint times.  More importantly for diesel enthusiasts though, the vehicle has an 18.5 gallon tank and can return 38 MPG on the highway.  If you do the math, that means this car can go over 700 miles on one tank of fuel assuming you can attain that MPG mark.  Of course it's hard to do so when driving a BMW diesel motor...

Much like driving the X5 diesel or the 335d, the 535d has a lot of torque in the low RPM range.  Immediately you feel the force push you back in your seat which creates an aggressive feeling drive.  The acceleration caused a small tingle at the base of my spine.  It was awesome.  Disappointingly though, you do feel the acceleration and speed differences between this and the 535i which has 300 hp and 300 lb/ft of torque.  While there is a lot of low end power that grunts along like a fullback clearing the hole of defensive lineman and linebackers, it lacks the excited pull of the Twin Power Turbo N55 motor.  You can find my video of the acceleration along with the hp and torque readings from the Sport Displays below.  The diesel handles like you would expect an F10 5 series would.  It does have that slight body roll that you feel in sharp corners under speed but it still benefits from the 50/50 weight distribution.  While driving the car, I took both the on and off ramp on the highway quite hard and could feel the car sticking into the corner.  Getting onto the highway, it accelerates beautifully and has no problem getting up to speed.  I only attribute the fact that I noticed the difference between the diesel and gas motor to the fact that I've driven the 535i a lot.  At acceleration and highway speed you can barely tell that there is a diesel motor under the hood.  It has a guttural grunt on acceleration but it is not obnoxious nor does it detract from the ride.  Otherwise it's quite sedate sounding.  Ignoring the acceleration, slight diesel noise, and better fuel economy, the 535d is a 535i.  The 535d even shares the same standard features and upgrades as what you get in the 2014 535i which you can find information on the features and what else to expect for the 2014 5 series on the link provided.

So which one should you buy?  If you consider that the 535d is only $1,100 more than the 535i, it starts to make a compelling case for the diesel.  you're not paying that much more for the diesel motor and it does return better fuel economy to the tune of roughly 10 MPG better on the highway.  Ultimately though, it boils down to what you want in a car.  Would you prefer a powerful diesel that gets great fuel economy?  Or does speed matter more to you?  The 535i is arguably more fun to drive from a performance side but, there's always a strong argument in my book for a quick, fuel efficient, BMW diesel.

Which would you prefer?


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