We recently got our hands on the new BMW 530e iPerformance, a plug-in hybrid version of the executive sedan.
While not an entirely different car than the rest of the 5 Series lineup, there’s a lot to like and learn about this particular BMW. Here are a few reasons why someone might like the hybrid over the conventional gas-powered model.
The most interesting thing about the plug-in hybrid 530e is that it has the same starting price as the regular 530i. The all-wheel-drive 530e iPerformance model that I tested costs $55,695 including destination, which is the exact same price as the all-wheel-drive 530i. You get quite a lot more despite the identical price.
Actually, I take that back — you might actually be able to get the 530e for less than the normal gas-powered 530i thanks to some generous tax incentives, depending on where you live and how you use the car. For example, there is a $8,460 purchase incentive for those in Ontario, Canada, while self-employed buyers in the U.S. can claim a $4,668 credit.
When operating like a typical hybrid, the 530e nets a combined fuel economy of 28 mpg, which is already 1 mpg more than the 530i. It’s the most fuel-efficient 5 Series and has even more in the tank, by which I mean the battery. From a fully charged state, which takes two hours with a 240V charger, the car can travel 15 miles, but the clever powertrain can recuperate lost energy on the go. Total range is estimated to be 360 miles, which is less than the gas model’s 486 miles, mainly because the hybrid has a smaller fuel tank. That leads to a cheaper bill at the pumps, but there’s no denying the fuel economy of the 530e, which is rated at 67 MPGe.
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Like the price, the two cars also have identical horsepower figures. The combined output of the hybrid is rated at 240 horsepower, the same as the gas model. But the hybrid has a broader power band. Peak performance happens between 4,000 and 6,500 rpm, a whole 1,200 rpm sooner than in the gas-only model. And while torque numbers are in favor of the hybrid (310 lb-ft vs 250 lb-ft), acceleration seems to be par between the two. Both handle the sprint to 60 miles per hour in 5.8 seconds, which isn’t bad at all.
While the electric model feels pretty solid in terms of engine performance, it doesn’t respond as eagerly as the gas model. That can likely be chalked up to the 500-lb weight difference between the two cars.
The 530 models represent the entry point for the BMW 5 Series, but what’s interesting is that there are seemingly no limitations on the options or features you can pack into it. Despite being “just” a 530e, our tester included such features like adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, head-up display, Harmon/Kardon audio, massage seats, and parking sensors galore.
You can even outfit this car with handling goodies from the M Sports catalog like M Sports brakes, carbon fiber exterior accents, and even the dynamic dampers. Practically speaking, you can use the money saved by getting the more affordable and fuel-efficient model and spend that saved money on dressing up this car to the nines.
BMW boasts about the 5 Series’ smooth and care-free ride, but it’s this hybrid that personifies that. It’s extremely well isolated from the world and when the combustion engine is turned off, it’s an amazingly quiet car. It might be the best example of the 5 Series or at least the one that exemplifies all the traits one wants in a large executive sedan like this.
However, big sedans like this should be applauded for their spaciousness, and while the 530e features solid passenger space, the cargo space is clearly impacted by the hybrid components, measuring in with just 14.5 cubic feet of storage, compared to 18.7 in the standard model.
Simply put, if you’re in the market for a four-cylinder-equipped BMW 5 Series, there’s no reason to not pick the plug-in hybrid iPerformance model. The added benefits come at no extra cost (even providing an incentive in some situations) while featuring almost no compromise.
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