If I told you a few years ago that you can buy a plug-in hybrid with a BMW badge, you probably would not believe me.
The fact is that now you can buy the 530e iPerformance which is one of our favorite BMW models (except for M models, of course). It is completely a 5 series BMW first which is great because the 5 series has always been the perfect size.
In the same way that M Performance is a nod to the link between the BMW and BMW M, the iPerformance tag gets added to the designations of all plug-in hybrid BMWs.
The list of other iPerformance models include the BMW 225xe, BMW 330e, BMW X5 xDrive40e and BMW 740e/740Le, plus the BMW X1 xDrive 25Le. Not all of those have been available in the US. The BMW 530e brings a sixth model to the portfolio, with further additions set to follow and is available in the US.
The 530e drivetrain starts with an 83kw/113hp electric motor that is attached to a 184 hp 2.0 liter four cylinder gasoline engine. The combination is good for a 0-60 time of 6.2 seconds with a top speed of 146 mph.
That is certainly fast enough for most drivers but most 530e buyers would be more interested in another number. That number would be the range of the electric motor which is 31 miles at a maximum speed of 87 mph. That is enough range for short trips around town.
After that, the 530e is good for about 400 miles on the gasoline engine. The electric motor and combustion engine direct their power to the rear wheels via the standard eight-speed transmission. Positioning the electric motor upstream from the transmission allows the transmission’s ratios to be used in all-electric mode and this dispenses with the need for a torque converter, helping offset the weight penalty of the additional drive unit.
Other than the badge, it is hard to tell the difference between the 530e and other 5 series models. Blue kidney grille slats, blue wheel hub covers and the charging socket located between the front wheel arch and the A-pillar on the driver’s side, are the most noticeable identifying features of the 530e.
|Good looking at any angle|
The rest of the 530e is pretty typical 5 series BMW. It is very luxurious and everything is first class. The interior is very modern and airy. Older BMWs were criticized for being too dark and boring but the 530e interior is a nice place to spend your time.
The thick steering wheel feels great in your hands and the only issue we had was that some of the switches had tiny markings that were hard to read at night. The sport front seats in our car were so comfortable and supportive that we did not want to stop driving.
The 530e is a high tech and high-end luxury car so it features a lot of gadgets. There is a driving mode switch labeled Sport, Comfort and Eco Pro.
You will also find a button labeled eDrive which lets the driver tailor the system’s operation even more precisely to the journey ahead through three driving modes: Auto, eDrive, max eDrive and Battery Control.
Auto eDrive ensures that the engine and electric motor interact perfectly in all driving situations and allows an all-electric top speed of 56 mph. This is the default mode. When max eDrive mode is selected, the 530e drives on electric power alone.
To do so, it uses the electric drive’s full power and can attain a maximum speed of 87 mph. However, if the accelerator is pressed hard the engine will cut in, which is handy should an extra boost of power be desired – when overtaking, for example.
Battery Control mode lets the driver set the charge level for the high-voltage battery manually. The target value can be adjusted to between 30 and 100 per cent of maximum charge, allowing that proportion of the battery’s capacity to be reserved for all-electric driving at a later point in the journey.
The intelligent battery management of the 530e either keeps the high-voltage battery’s charge constant at the selected level or increases it to the pre-set value, with the electric motor acting as a generator.
In this way, Battery Control mode makes it possible to conserve or even increase the reserves of electric power while travelling on the motorway, for example, in order to ensure that an upcoming section through an urban area can be covered with zero local emissions.
These features make you wish all automakers had such customizable settings.
|Behind the wheel of a real driving machine|
The 530e is an amazing piece of technology that really makes you happy that you got that well-paying job.
It is great car but it does not come cheap. Prices start out at $51,400 but as with most luxury cars, the option list is long. Our car had the cold weather package (heated front and rear seats and steering wheel $400), driving assistance package (heads up display $1700), driving assistance plus package (front collision warning, lane departure warning, pedestrian protection $1700), lighting package (adaptive LED headlights, auto high beams $1050), parking assistance package (active park distance control, rear camera $1300), premium package (power trunk, keyless entry, wireless phone charging, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth $2700) plus other options such as upgraded stereo that brought the price to just over $66,000.
As you can see in the list above, many items that are extra are standard on entry level cars costing less than $20,000 are optional here but that is how things are at this level.
The 530e is a bargain considering the technology and the level of luxury. We did not want to stop driving it so I guess it is worth every penny. We will take ours in black.
AC Synchronous Electric Motor with integrated power electronics, charger and generator mode for recuperation
EDRIVE MOTOR HORSEPOWER (hp @ rpm)
111 @ 3170
EDRIVE MOTOR TORQUE (lb-ft @ rpm)
184 @ 0-3170
2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder
ENGINE HORSEPOWER (bhp)
180 @ 4000-6500
ENGINE TORQUE (lb-ft @ rpm)
255 @ 1800-4750
COMBINED HORSEPOWER / TORQUE (hp / lb-ft)
248 / 310
BATTERY TYPE / CAPACITY (ah)
9.2 kWh lithium-ion / 90
8-speed Steptronic Sport Automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters
AUTOMATIC GEAR RATIOS – I / II / III
4.71 / 3.14 / 2.10
AUTOMATIC GEAR RATIOS – IV / V / VI
1.67 / 1.29 / 1.00
AUTOMATIC GEAR RATIOS – VII / VIII / R
0.84 / 0.67 / 3.32
AUTOMATIC GEAR RATIOS – FINAL DRIVE RATIO
ACCELERATION 0–60 mph AUTOMATIC (sec)
TOP SPEED (mph)
TOTAL RANGE (mi)
FUEL TANK CAPACITY (gallons)
CHARGING TIME 0-100% (hr)
Wheels & Tires
WHEEL DIMENSIONS (in)
18 x 8.0 front and rear
TIRE DIMENSIONS (mm)
245/45 front and rear
DOORS / SEATS
4 / 5
LENGTH / WIDTH / HEIGHT (in)
194.6 / 73.5 / 58.4
GROUND CLEARANCE (in)
CURB WEIGHT – AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION (lbs)
WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION, FRONT/REAR – AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION (%)
48.6 / 51.4
LEGROOM, FRONT/REAR (in)41.4 / 36.5
SHOULDER ROOM, FRONT/REAR (in)58.7 / 55.9
CARGO CAPACITY (cu ft)14.5