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The Road to Bratislava – Driving the BMW 535d Sedan
Bratislava, known in many regions by its German name, Preßburg, is the capital of Slovakia.
It was the destination for a long distance road trip with the all new BMW 535d sedan. The drive from Munich to Bratislava would be more than 500 km (310 miles) , so TDD editor Jonathan Spira and I decided to take the drive together.
Our dark graphite metallic (sophistograu) 535d sedan, which we picked up a few days prior to our drive, was fully loaded with virtually all of the latest innovations the new 5er Series has to offer. This includes safety features such as the Lane Departure Warning and Active Blind Spot Detection, and the Speed Limit Info, which show up directly on the Head-Up Display. We were also looking forward to seeing the effects of the Dynamic Damper Control and exercising the 8-speed sport automatic gearbox, which, because of its enormous torque, is standard on the 535d.
The straight six-cylinder diesel engine of the 535d is engineered with BMWs latest TwinPower Turbo technology including direct fuel injection and twin-scroll turbo technology. This combination provides the driver with 300 hp (220 kW) and a powerful 425 pound-feet of torque.
On a sunny Sunday morning, after a wonderful brunch at the Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski Hotel in Munich, we started our journey to Bratislava. While I stored our baggage in the large trunk (520 liter volume) of the 535d sedan, Jonathan programmed the Navi Professional with our destination and we started via the famous Maximiliansstraße towards the Autobahn A8, in the direction of Salzburg. This was to be the slowest portion of our trip. Thanks to the extra tight security during the Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz 2011 (Munich Security Conference), it was quite a challenge for us to leave the inner city due to multiple street closures.
As a result, we had to take the Rosenheimer Straße and we passed by the Deutsches Museum on our way to the Autobahn A8, which we reached a few minutes later.
We then continued on the A8 in the direction of Salzburg for the next 130 km (81 miles) and enjoyed a beautiful mountain panorama of the Bavarian and Austrian Alps before we reached the Austrian border. It was not, however, a fast trip. Perhaps thanks to the unusually sunny and warm weather conditions (for February), there was heavy Sunday afternoon traffic and, and the Autobahn had a maximum speed limit of 120 km/h (74 mp/h) until Irschenberg. We also passed through several construction areas on a two lane stretch of the A8, where our speed was limited to 80 km/h (50 mp/h).
We crossed the border into Austria near Walserberg shortly after 3 p.m. and continued on the Austrian Autobahn A1 (the German Autobahn A8 terminates at the border) in the direction of Vienna.
The A1 is the oldest and most important Autobahn in Austria, connecting the capital city of Vienna on a east-west axis with the cities of Linz and Salzburg. Once in Austria, we took a short detour to enjoy the marvelous scenery of the Mondsee (Moon Lake) area. We also noted the 535d’s fuel consumption. After 174 km (108 miles), the 535d used 8.4 l/100 km (27 mpg). Our average driving speed was 102.6 km/h (63.7 mp/h).
We rejoined the A1 at the interchange near Mondsee and headed towards Vienna. After 100 km (62 miles), we passed Linz, the third-largest city of Austria and the capital of the state of Upper Austria (Oberösterreich), where Sunday afternoon traffic was light on the expanded six-lane Autobahn. The speed limit in Austria on most highways is 130 km/h (80 mph),
although one can drive a bit faster without setting off the photo radar. We used the cruise control extensively here so we wouldn’t go faster than 150 km/h (93 mph), but we also noticed a problem with the Speed Limit information that the car was displaying. Despite a speed limit of 130 km/h, the car displayed an incorrect maximum speed of 80 km/h (50 mph). It seems that the system’s camera recognized the maximum speed limit for trucks (80 km/h) and thought that it would also be applicable for cars.
Near the Knoten (interchange) Steinhäusl, after having followed the A1 for more than 270 km (167 miles), we switched onto the A21 (the A1 leads directly into the city of Vienna).
Via the A21, also called “Wiener Außenring Autobahn” (Vienna outer ring highway), we passed Vienna to the south and changed onto the S1 at the Knoten Vösendorf. The S1 (Schnellstraße 1) connects the southern part of Vienna with the eastern part, including Vienna InternationalAirport in Schwechat and the Autobahn A4 (Ost-Autobahn).
At the Knoten (interchange) Schwechat, we joined the A4 in the direction Bratislava and Budapest, and continued there for the next 53 km (33 miles) before leaving the Autobahn near the Slovak border. In view of the fact that we had only a Vignette (highway toll sticker) for the Austrian Autobahns, we decided to drive the last 13 km (8 miles) on Slovakian country roads so we would not have to purchase a separate Vignette for the Slovakian highways.
Approximately 15 minutes after crossing the border, we reached our destination, the Kempinski Hotel River Park along the Danube River.
Exactly 4 hours and 52 minutes had passed since we left the Maximiliansstraße in Munich and pulled up at the hotel in Bratislava. We found that the 535d’s fuel economy had improved significantly once we were no longer stuck in traffic as compared to fuel usage for the first portion of the trip, prior to crossing the border. We drove a total of 528 km (328 miles), mostly on German and Austrian Autobahns, and our fuel consumption was an incredible 7.1 l/100 km (34 mpg) – with an average speed of 111 km/h (68.9 mp/h).