Being an executive sedan designed for comfortable commuting, the decision by BMW to electrify the 5 Series was a natural choice. Announced two years ago, I recently had the chance to try the plug-in hybrid variant of the car and here are some thoughts.
The 530e really doesn’t look that much different than the pure gasoline version. Study it closely though and you might spot the blue kidney grille slats, the charging socket door on the front fender or the “eDrive” and “530e” badging on the C pillars and trunk lid, respectively.
My tester looked even less like a green variant, wearing the $12,500 M Performance Edition package. The pricey bundle includes a long list of additions, for example carbon fiber front bumper splitter, rear spoiler and diffuser; matte black body aero; big 20-inch fork-style 669M alloy wheels; bright blue M Sport brakes and much more.
Open the doors and a few more clues are presented about the car’s true nature. eDrive text illuminates on the sill panels, and occupants will notice an unique instrument cluster display and infotainment screen. A bluish ambient lighting fit for a spaceship permeates cabin. There’s also an extra eDrive button on the centre console that toggles between three different electric performance modes.
The default setting is AUTO, which automatically determines when to switch from internal combustion to zero emissions (top speed of 90 km/h) and vice versa. MAX eDRIVE forces full-time fuel-free operation, up to a maximum speed of 140 km/h, unless full throttle is applied causing the engine to kick in and assist acceleration. BATTERY CONTROL allows a percentage of the energy reserves to be locked-in for use at a later time.
Regardless of the mode, the ride is almost always whisper quiet and smooth. The powertrain is comprised of a 2.0-litre mill and 83-kilowatt electric motor, together generating a net output of 252 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. When running on electricity alone, the maximum range is 50 kilometres. In other words, not really enough for anything other than limited in-city driving. For such a large vehicle, I averaged a respectable fuel consumption of 9.6 L/100 km in mixed city and highway driving.
Measuring 4,943 millimetres in length and 1,868 width, the 530e leaves a sizable footprint. Legroom shouldn’t be something your passengers will complain about with 928 millimetres in the second row. The high capacity 9.2-kilowatt-hour battery is smartly packaged underneath the rear seat so the trunk is able to have a flat floor and offer a full 410 litres of storage space big enough to swallow up a lot of gear.
The 2019 BMW 530e starts $68,000.