The 5 Series is a better car for the chauffeur driven population. Many think so. To prove them wrong, BMW has a driver focused variant. And for those who want to drive their 5 Series, the 530d M-Sport is the 5er to go for. It gets a bigger engine, better driving dynamics and the blessings of M, the alphabet that matters.
We took the BMW 530d M-Sport to some places that would prove the performance and driving characteristics it promises. And we start off to Gingee Fort, which is at 146 km from Chennai. The city traffic warmed up the 530d nicely and the Eco Pro mode made quick work with auto start/stop mode and brake energy regeneration to improve fuel economy. The NH 45 route up to Tindivanam laid a perfect stretch of tarmac to bring out the mile munching characteristics of the car.
The time to get off the NH45 to go to Gingee Fort came very soon as the 530d dissolved the distance in the highway without much of a sweat. The road to Gingee Fort, about 45 kms from Tindivanam is just now being laid and we found large patches of mud roads to cross. The Comfort mode in the Bimmer tried to smoothen out the jiggers and succeeded to some extent. The Gingee Fort and the neighbouring Rani Fort both presented a majestic sight atop the mountains. It’s a long way up to the fort, so be prepared.
You can also visit the Venkataramanaswami Temple near the fort which is known for its 1000 pillars. Unfortunately, the temple was closed by the time we reached. So, we started our way back to Pondicherry to spend the night. The road from Tindivanam to Pondicherry is one of the best roads to drive and test the pace of your car. The stretches are great but you have to watch out for cyclists and bikers who pop out in between from the service roads. The 530d maintained its stance well in high speeds and kept the body roll at the minimum around the curves.
The car’s Sport and Sport+ mode is the way to go on highways. From the steering to the suspension, everything becomes stiffer and the throttle response becomes much better. The 8-speed sport automatic transmission does its duty pretty good in its own but the response is still a notch slower than we would have liked when we put the pedal to the floor. And in these situations, the paddle shifts interfere to help you with faster responses from the gearbox.
We were able to find a comfortable enough room and spend the night right by the seashore of Pondy. Our plan to capture the sunrise failed as the sky was masked by clouds with the rain drizzling lightly.
After a more-heavy-than-light breakfast of pongal and vada, we drove along the beach road, which you can’t miss as all the roads heading east will end here. The French-influenced architecture is evident in and around the beach road.
The Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville village and the several churches around are a must watch list if you are visiting Pondicherry.
After the South Indian breakfast and the Indo-French architecture walk, we started to Pichavaram to witness the famous mangrove forest, the second largest one in the world. To reach Pichavaram, you have to go take the road that will take you through Cuddalore and Chidambaram. The 530d’s navigation system got us through to Pichavaram without any misleads.
The Pichavaram mangrove forest is surely worth a visit as the mangrove forest trees, which are permanently rooted, make for a great sight. The boat ride through the trees with the expose roots reminded us of the scene from the famous pirate movies.
The boatman also told about the history of the place and the stories of the movies that were shot there. And if you visit this place, make sure you opt for the rowing boats than the motor boats for a more peaceful experience.
On our way back, we took the East Coast Road to Chennai. The road, though a scenic one, demands your attention and skill at every bend.
The BMW 530d took to the turns pretty confidently and was in control all the time. The M-Sport package gets you individual headliner anthracite, high-gloss shadow line, dark-chrome finished exhaust pipes, M aerodynamics package, M leather steering wheel and sport seats for the driver and front passenger. Though the Harman-Kardon surround sound system is standard across all the variants of the 5 Series, a 6 DVD changer and BMW Heads-up display is exclusive to this variant.
BMW 530d M-Sport is a great car, especially for those who want to drive and to those who like to go for long trips. It can comfortably seat four people and have them entertained too. But most of all, it acts as a perfect companion for your weekend trips, putting on the mask of the super alphabet.