BMW 535xi: Understated Luxury

It’s nice to be inconspicuously spoiled. Far from ostentatious, the BMW 535i with xDrive quietly hollers its way around town. Indeed, beyond its logo, a casual viewer probably wouldn’t know it’s a luxury performance sedan.

Until they either got in it, or were passed by it in a turn.

In an age when the response of the accelerator pedal is making daily headlines, you notice this one. You can remain very light on it, offering the softest jazzy soft shoe, then get all the attention you need. Again, the word spoiled comes to mind. A gentle nudge into a 6-speed sport transmission brings even more sensitivity to the foot. But you’re tempted to just leave the sport trannie off, the automatic is so satisfying.

This car may be dressed for dinner but it’s prepped for fight club. A 6-cylinder 24-valve twin turbo engine releases 300 ponies at 5800rpm and 300lbs of torque at 1400 rpm.

In short, it goes like stink but loves to drink.

Specs say it races from 0 to 100km/h in 5.8 seconds. Experience says you should be solicitous about where and when you put those stats to the test. In the city it tippled 12.3 litres per 100km, but usually did better on the highway. Stats are available in real time on the instrument panel, so the overwhelming temptation to floor it is accompanied by an appropriate rush of guilt.

Jaunts about town are a thrill. At each challenging turn the 535xi defies the laws of inertia and remains glued to the road – condemning the next corner to become another challenge for the highly engaged driver.

Let’s talk more of its understated gentility. Keep the fob pocketed and you’re able to enter and start it with your hands full. Space-age cup holders emerge from the within the dash like some Swiss butler. A 10-speaker sound system with two lumbar-massaging subwoofers engulfs you in sound. The intuitive entertainment interface offers multiple ways to get what you want. Instructions seem a frivolous add-on. There are enough seat movement options (10 ways) to comfort Quasimodo.

There’s a lot of technology here. It’s just not screaming at you.

Base price: $68,900

This is a test