BMW is one of the front runners when it comes to electrification, with its established electric ‘i’ range and plug-in hybrids – labelled as iPerformance.
The 530e is BMW’s sixth plug-in hybrid model, and is the first in the Munich-based firm’s popular 5 Series. BMW aims to combine its renowned engaging driving experience along with low running costs.
Other than the drivetrain, there is little to distinguish the 530e iPerformance from its standard diesel and petrol derivatives. Subtle differences include blue kidney grille slats, eDrive badging and blue wheel hubs on the exterior, with some subtle cabin branding and dedicated electric instruments being the few differences on the interior.
For the 530e, BMW has paired a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to produce 249bhp and 420Nm of torque. This allows for a 0-60mph sprint of six seconds flat and a limited top speed of 155mph. There’s certainly plenty of shove, although the 2.0-litre engine can sound like it’s being thrashed under heavy acceleration.
On electric power alone, the 530e has a maximum range of 31 miles and is best suited to urban driving when in this mode.Enquire now on a new BMW 5 Series
Ride and handling
Despite transforming the 5 Series into a plug-in, BMW has thankfully managed to keep the car’s dynamic sparkle. It hides its bulk very well, while its sharp steering is great to use both in the city and out on the open road. It does have a tendency to lean when you’re pushing its abilities a bit harder than normal, but for most of the time it’s impressive.
It’s also well-suited to the motorway, where these cars are likely to spend most of their time. The ride is supple and refined, and the 530e would make a superb long-distance cruiser.
Our only gripe with the car is the awkward transition between electric and petrol-powered motoring. At low speeds it deals with the switch fine, but when you’re pressing on, there is a noticeable delay as the car tries to work out what you’re trying to do, before you get a sudden shove of driving. It does mean that the acceleration can feel a bit inconsistent.
Interior and equipment
The interior of the 5 Series is a wonderful thing and the 530e is no different. All the surfaces feel well-made, where even the plastics feel premium.
It has a great layout, too, with BMW’s iDrive infotainment system being one of the best in the business. The 10.2-inch touchscreen is intuitive to use, and the car’s online services, connectivity, DAB radio and satellite navigation are easy to navigate.
The smaller boot space is a bit of a con due to the 530e’s batteries, meaning the boot capacity is reduced to 410 litres from the 530 litres you get from standard versions.
Equipment levels are also generous, with standard equipment on the SE model including 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, satellite navigation with real-time traffic information, heated seats and the aforementioned touchscreen being the highlights of the car’s spec.
BMW is certainly ambitious when it comes to the 530e’s running costs. The firm claims it will return 141.2mpg and CO2 emissions of just 46g/km – meaning it is eligible for a £2,500 discount through the government’s plug-in car grant.
As with most plug-in hybrids, they struggle to return anywhere near their claimed economy figures which means that in reality you’ll struggle to get near these claimed figures.
The big advantage, though, comes for company car drivers who can expect noticeable savings on company car tax bills, and also those who do a lot of town driving, too.
The 530e is one of the pricier 5 Series’ in the firm’s range, starting from £45,810, although it does deliver excellent performance, low running costs and is fitted with superb equipment levels for that price.
The 5 Series is one of the finest executive cars on sale, and the 530e only builds on this. It looks great, is comfortable and has a fantastic interior. Combine this with the cheaper running costs offered by the plug-in version, and the car presents a truly compelling package.Test drive a new BMW 5 Series