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First drive: BMW 530e iPerformance. Image by BMW.

First drive: BMW 530e iPerformance
BMW adds plugin capability to the new G30 5 Series, but will it be enough to overturn diesel?

 



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BMW 530e iPerformance

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BMW is adding plugin hybrid capability to the new 5 Series, borrowing the same drivetrain as used in the 330e. Unlike a Lexus hybrid, you can travel a reasonable distance on just the batteries, and you could, potentially, do all of your suburban and urban hops on just electric power. Can it really take on its own in-house diesel competition and win, though?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW 530e iPerformance
Price: from 43,985
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol and electric motor
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: four-door saloon
CO2 emissions: 46g/km (Band 1-50, 0 though 310 supplement)
Combined economy: 141.2mpg
Top speed:146mph (87mph on pure electric power)
0-62mph: 6.2 seconds
Power: 184hp at 5,000pm + 95hp electric motor (252hp system total)
Torque: 290Nm at 1,390rpm + 250Nm electric motor (420Nm system maximum)
Boot space: 410 litres
Euro NCAP rating: five-star; 91 per cent adult occupant, 85 per cent child occupant, 81 per cent pedestrian, 59 per cent safety assist.

What's this?

It is possible to think of the new 530e as a sized-up BMW 330e. After all, the two cars are very closely mechanically related, using the same 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, developing 184hp, and an electric motor stuck in between the engine and the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, which develops 95hp. The combined system total is 252hp, matching that of the petrol-only 530i. Performance, as with the 330e, is decently brisk. From a standstill, 62mph comes up in 6.2 seconds and the top speed is a very reasonable 146mph.

Of course, you could equally argue that the G30 5 Series is so much more than a bigger 330e and you'd be right. While it's probably fair to criticise the new 5's styling as a bit too predictable (although it is a grower) and the cabin as being a bit too generically BMW, the levels of quality in this car are simply superb. The cabin is pretty much up to 7 Series standard and the optional Mocha Nappa leather seats of our test car added a genuinely luxurious touch.

The tech is hugely impressive too. Add the adaptive cruise control and lane keeping steering and the 530e will happily drive itself along the motorway, and will take out much of the strain of creeping traffic too. Plug in to a home charger (BMW will supply you with a 3.7kW unit) and you can top the 9.2kWh battery stack up in about three hours, which is good for a claimed 31 miles of petrol-free driving. The claimed total range, with full batteries and full fuel tank, is 400 miles.

How does it drive?

We'll get to the handling and ride in a moment, but first it's important to work out how good the electric drivetrain is. For the most part, the answer to that is 'pretty good, actually', but the biggest caveat is in how and where you drive. For the record, here's what we achieved starting with a full petrol tank and a battery charged to around 20 miles of range: driving normally, on a mixture of country roads, towns and villages, and a little bit of motorway, we reached 18 miles before the battery gave out, and then carried on, completing a total battery-and-electric mix of 70 miles. At the end of which the trip computer was telling us we'd averaged 46mpg. Now, it's important to note that the average was better than 50mpg before we hit the motorway and that town-and-country driving is not this car's metier. Think more town-and-town, which is where BMW estimates this car's likely owners will do the vast majority of their driving.

One thing is certain - it's refined. Not only is it quiet, as you'd expect, under electric power, it's also impressively hushed when the petrol engine kicks in, although, when you ask for full performance, the noise rises to occasionally irritating levels. For the most part though, the cabin is really, impressively hushed and the 530e makes for a truly relaxing travel companion.

To drive though, it's not quite perfect. Generally speaking, the suspension handles the extra weight of the batteries and electric motor well, only giving a slight lurch and wobble at the top of the suspension travel when really pressing on. The steering is beautifully weighted and, thanks to the active rack, able to speed up or slow down its reactions according to the speed of the car. It's just not bursting with feel though, which we have come to expect of the 5 Series of old. Those used to the glorious feel and response of the old E60, or even the F10 5 Series, will be disappointed. The ride quality is simply excellent, although that does come with the warning that the roads around Munich and Berchtesgaden are in rather better repair than your average British B-road.

There are further small niggles, such as a boot that's missing 120 litres relative to the standard 5 Series (530 litres reducing to 410 litres) and the fact that the 43k price tag means you can no longer make the most of reduced VED tax (you have to pay the 330 loading regardless). Its BIK rate is pretty impressive though, which should appeal to corporate user-choosers.

Verdict

As with pretty much any plugin hybrid, the answer to the question of 'is the BMW 530e any good?' will depend on how and where you drive it, and how you pay your taxes. Stick to mostly urban miles and short journeys and it actually, probably, possibly, would make a good alternative to a conventional diesel 5 Series. If you're a motorway mileage muncher, then possibly not.

3 3 3 3 3 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

5 5 5 5 5 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Neil Briscoe - 29 Apr 2017









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2017 BMW 530e iPerformance. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 530e iPerformance. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 530e iPerformance. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 530e iPerformance. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 530e iPerformance. Image by BMW.

2017 BMW 530e iPerformance. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 530e iPerformance. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 530e iPerformance. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 530e iPerformance. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 530e iPerformance. Image by BMW.








 

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