Looking for fast estate - F11 535D?

Associate
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Hi All,


Looking to upgrade our current car which is a VW Passat TDI 170 Sport. I've been wanting to upgrade it for a while but buying a house and Covid saw to that! I’ve got the following shortlist:

  • German as I prefer the build quality
  • Fast, ideally >300BHP
  • Economical (not expecting 60+ MPG but don’t want 25 MPG on a run)
  • Prefer larger cars; has to be an estate as we have a Labrador
  • Decent level of kit (Xenons, up to date Sat Nav, heated seats, reversing camera etc)
  • Engaging to drive
  • Up to £18,000

Now, our mileage is about 9,000 a year, max. This puts us firmly in the petrol category but I cannot find many high-performance cars that fit the specification. I’m looking at cars around 2014/2015 when diesel reigned supreme. I’ve seen literally a couple of F11 535i but they are more than the F11 535D so don’t seem a better buy? If money were no object, I’d have an RS6 parked on the drive. The RS4 is just out on my budget and I don’t think I am mentally ready for RS running costs just yet. The C63 appeals to me but again, just out of budget.

My parents bought an A6 BiTDi recently and I really loved the amount of shove it had at any revs, found the drive sterile but not horrendous. I much prefer the interior of the F11 though.

I’ve thought about a 530D which I know are more than capable but I really fancy the twin turbos. I know from a sensible point of view it makes little sense but the prices are quite close.

The issue I have is knowing which options are absolute must haves? I know I am going to have to forfeit some.

Are there any other cars I should be considering? It feels really wrong to be looking at a fast diesel when I do such little milage but I don’t see a lot of other options?
 
Man of Honour
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IMHO there is no better car than the 530/535 for what you list.

Your budget should get a nice one. Drive the 530 and the 535 because I didn't find a huge amount of difference in the performance personally and you'll generally get a much nicer 530 for the money.
 
Associate
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As a wild card, Passat R36 estate would hit all of your criteria and well within budget too. Something a little different and the rarity factor too.

Coming from what I presume is a newer Passat, it might feel like a step back though.
 
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As a wild card, Passat R36 estate would hit all of your criteria and well within budget too. Something a little different and the rarity factor too.

Coming from what I presume is a newer Passat, it might feel like a step back though.

The R36 is not worth the price it commands, the BMW is better in basically every way.
 
Associate
OP
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IMHO there is no better car than the 530/535 for what you list.

Your budget should get a nice one. Drive the 530 and the 535 because I didn't find a huge amount of difference in the performance personally and you'll generally get a much nicer 530 for the money.

That is the conclusion I drew, I just cannot shake the feeling I shouldn't be buying a diesel with such low mileage. The problem though is what you get if you go petrol.

I plan to drive both the 530D and the 535D and don't expect a whole lot of difference.

Which options would you say are worth having?
 
Man of Honour
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IMHO there is no real petrol alternative - these cars (and the competition at similar money) are from the era just before we went mad about diesel - when there was little reason for a new executive car buyer not to opt for a diesel. Consequently, they are virtually all diesel and the few petrol cars you do find either have 4 cylinder engines or are bizarrely specified by older people (I lost count of the number of metallic beige petrol F10's I found, very odd).

Options wise, I'd make sure it has Professional Navigation as a minimum but beyond that the rest of the kit is nice to have. Particularly nice to have are LED headlights but they are very rare. Most LCI cars of decent spec will also have the M Sport Plus package which adds the best wheels - the 19 inch style 351 - and the Harmon Kardon Stereo. Beyond this its personal preference, I insisted on Sport Automatic Transmission which gives you paddles, a different shift programme, launch control (Seriously) and a proper leather gearshifter, but in 5 years of ownership I barely use the paddles so I'm not sure I was right to be so insistent.

Reversing camera is IMHO incredibly useful and I wouldn't want a car without it but depending on how easy you find it to get one there are a number of relatively inexpensive and straightforward retrofit kits that give you the complete OEM interface, so it's less of an immediate worry as it's not a particularly common option.

One option that is sadly very rare but also very very good is Adaptive Headlights with High Beam Assist. On the LCI models (2013 onwards), the high beam assistant actually does the whole beam-shifting thing you normally get from adaptive LED headlights. It's really very, very good indeed but it's enormously underrated, most people don't even know its better than the standard on/off auto high beams and I'm bitterly disappointed I don't have it. About the only regret I have with my car is that it is missing this particular option.
 
Soldato
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Skoda Superb Sport Estate with the 280PS petrol engine. Enormous, plenty quick. Loaded.

I had 3 A6 allroads, one 245PS and two with the BiTDi in 313PS and 320PS forms and the only better diesel engine is the 4.0 V8 they put in the last revision SQ7 and Touareg R. Contrary to what you might expect I found the Audi's to be quite fragile and very expensive to repair out of warranty - especially the electronics. Personally, I wouldn't recommend you buy a used Audi unless you know the history of the car as there are lots of them that have not been loved and they're really easy to tart up for resale.
 
Man of Honour
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Skoda Superb Sport Estate with the 280PS petrol engine. Enormous, plenty quick. Loaded.

Whilst I am a fan of the Superb I don't think a 4 cylinder Superb is a credible alternative to a 6 cylinder 5 Series. If nothing else the ZF8HP gearbox in the 5 Series is much nicer than what I presume is the DSG unit in the Skoda?
 
Soldato
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Whilst I am a fan of the Superb I don't think a 4 cylinder Superb is a credible alternative to a 6 cylinder 5 Series. If nothing else the ZF8HP gearbox in the 5 Series is much nicer than what I presume is the DSG unit in the Skoda?

Yes. And no. I think it's worth considering. They are really nice places to be. And with the 280PS and the all-wheel drive they're very quick and very easy to exploit on UK roads. It's much easier to really use the power on a 280PS all wheel drive car than a rear wheel drive car. But I hear some people like to park their cars backwards in hedges :)
 
Associate
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I know you mentioned that you prefer a German car, but have you considered looking at a JDM important? Considering the mileage you are doing. The Japanese make some good fast estates, most of them will be a little older and lower mileage.
 
Man of Honour
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I know you mentioned that you prefer a German car, but have you considered looking at a JDM important? Considering the mileage you are doing. The Japanese make some good fast estates, most of them will be a little older and lower mileage.

I don't think the Japanese make a single estate that is comparable to a 5 Series Touring.
 
Associate
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I don't think the Japanese make a single estate that is comparable to a 5 Series Touring.
I genuinely agree, with you. Just thinking thinking that the OP mileage was a little low for a diesel. There are petrol 5 series out there, just harder to find. I just want to ask had he considered something other than a German car?
 
Man of Honour
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I genuinely agree, with you. Just thinking thinking that the OP mileage was a little low for a diesel. There are petrol 5 series out there, just harder to find. I just want to ask had he considered something other than a German car?

I spent 6 months trying to buy a petrol 5 Series of this vintage and gave up and got a diesel. They are so rare that it's just too much hassle to find them. Especially now when condition is ever more of an issue as well as spec (I was looking at year old ones). The only one worth buying is the 535i - the 528i is a 4 cylinder turbo.
 
Associate
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I spent 6 months trying to buy a petrol 5 Series of this vintage and gave up and got a diesel. They are so rare that it's just too much hassle to find them. Especially now when condition is ever more of an issue as well as spec (I was looking at year old ones). The only one worth buying is the 535i - the 528i is a 4 cylinder turbo.
I know they are a rare, I think I would have done the same thing after searching for 6 months. Plus I am in the camp that a BMW should have 6 cylinders or more so that would have limited narrow the search even more.
 
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OP
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IMHO there is no real petrol alternative - these cars (and the competition at similar money) are from the era just before we went mad about diesel - when there was little reason for a new executive car buyer not to opt for a diesel. Consequently, they are virtually all diesel and the few petrol cars you do find either have 4 cylinder engines or are bizarrely specified by older people (I lost count of the number of metallic beige petrol F10's I found, very odd).

Options wise, I'd make sure it has Professional Navigation as a minimum but beyond that the rest of the kit is nice to have. Particularly nice to have are LED headlights but they are very rare. Most LCI cars of decent spec will also have the M Sport Plus package which adds the best wheels - the 19 inch style 351 - and the Harmon Kardon Stereo. Beyond this its personal preference, I insisted on Sport Automatic Transmission which gives you paddles, a different shift programme, launch control (Seriously) and a proper leather gearshifter, but in 5 years of ownership I barely use the paddles so I'm not sure I was right to be so insistent.

Reversing camera is IMHO incredibly useful and I wouldn't want a car without it but depending on how easy you find it to get one there are a number of relatively inexpensive and straightforward retrofit kits that give you the complete OEM interface, so it's less of an immediate worry as it's not a particularly common option.

One option that is sadly very rare but also very very good is Adaptive Headlights with High Beam Assist. On the LCI models (2013 onwards), the high beam assistant actually does the whole beam-shifting thing you normally get from adaptive LED headlights. It's really very, very good indeed but it's enormously underrated, most people don't even know its better than the standard on/off auto high beams and I'm bitterly disappointed I don't have it. About the only regret I have with my car is that it is missing this particular option.

Thanks very much for the information, most useful. My shortlist pretty much had the pro nav as a must have and I really want the HUD. It's quite shocking how many cars have the non pro sat nav, it just doesn't look right at all! I'd quite like the paddles, just for the odd occasion I feel like giving it a thrashing. Am I right in thinking if it has paddles it must have the Sport Automatic Transmission? Also, is the standard speaker set up any good?

In terms of mileage, I'm always one for motorway miles are better than less town miles. I'm thinking under 70,000 would be good. This is a little over mileage but looks to be a good spec vs price? Just trying to get a feel for what I am looking for when I look at pictures of it :)
 
Man of Honour
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Interesting you mention the large amount of them without pro nav - I think there was a batch of cars mostly on 15-16 plates which I think were ex-rental, these were weirdly specced 535d many with business nav instead of pro nav. They were easy to spot back then as they all appeared at once, but I'd guess they now still pop up randomly as people move them on.

The HUD is excellent - forgot to mention that. I don't have it but won't buy another without it.

Standard speakers were ok, I had them in my first F10. But the HK is worth seeking out and most good cars have M Sport Plus so it isnt hard to find. Unless someone has retrofitted the paddles then it means it has Sport Auto Transmission, yes.

The one you've linked is a good spec.
 
Associate
OP
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It might just be the section of the market I am looking for. It's literally the first photo I go to as it's an instant dismissal if it's not got it. The HUD I've noticed can be easy to spot as you can see unit in the dash, not very common though. I am not in a massive rush to buy (not exactly doing loads of travel at the moment!!) so will keep an eye on if any come up in my budget with it. From the sounds of it, I will end up getting a car with the M Sport Plus package so will get to enjoy the better audio. I thought the one I linked to was a good spec, it looks to be a good example as well. I am not too fussed on the mileage, within reason as I know these are likely ex-exec cars that saw a lot of motorway miles. I need to try and find a nicely spec'd 530D and give them both a good test drive. If I got a 530D, I'd want to spend a bit less as it looks like my budget does get a well spec'd 535D. I'd rather the second turbo over a HUD or better headlights, that is my thinking!
 
Man of Honour
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I'd rather the spec over the second turbo personally, but then everyone is different. I find the 530d easily quick enough for anything I'd want to do. You could probably find a newer/lower mileage 530d for the same money as a 535d - at whatever price point you're looking.

I'd only pick a 535d if the extra turbo was 'free' - ie, if it wasn't really any more than a 530d. Because who doesn't want free power? But I wouldn't compromise on spec, condition or age to get it. But everyone has different requirements.
 
Associate
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Agree with Fox.. I believe I have the exact same spec f10 530 as him and it's plenty fast enough....
(also hardly ever used the paddles, the gearbox does a wonderful job with me interfering)
 
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