Success in the luxury market calls for an attractively designed car both inside and out, and the 530e delivers on both sides.
Between its distinct snout, long hood, and sharply creased sides, the exterior is among the best-looking in class. It’s a good compromise between the bolder designs you’ll see on a Lexus sedan and the more traditional design of an Audi sedan.
Once you go inside, the 530e really delivers. The design is user-friendly and roomy, and all seats are comfortable even on long rides.
One small downside is there is not much storage space in the interior bins, but on the plus side the trunk size and rear leg room are impressive for the segment. You never feel cramped. Rear seats fold down to increase storage capacity.
Leather seating is included, and for a fee you can add attractive Cedar Metallic touches.
LED headlights and LED fog lights are standard, and you get a classy power glass moonroof. Among options are the cold weather package, which adds heated steering wheel and heated seats in both front and rear of the vehicle.
Among other standard items: 18-inch light alloy wheels; leather steering wheel; runflat tires; wood trim; auto dimming driver exterior mirror; ambient lighting; power front seats; lumbar support; and automatic climate control.
HOW’S THE RIDE?
The goal as hybrid and electric vehicles become more common is to maintain the quality of the drive that owners have traditionally loved. This goal is accomplished here on the 530e.
The 530e features a 2.0-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder, 16-valve engine with variable valve control. This is combined with an eDrive electric motor and 9.2-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Combined numbers on the vehicle are 248 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque.
The vehicle runs an 8-speed automatic transmission. You also have a manual mode on the shifter, and you have paddle shifters on the steering wheel as an alternate method of controlling the gears yourself.The 530e features stability control and traction control, and anti-lock brakes.
This vehicle still drives like a BMW despite being a plug-in hybrid. You’ll get pure joy out of the driving experience. This is a big reason why the brand is as popular as it is, moreso than looks and comfort and tech. Drivers who love to drive, aka enthusiasts, often end up behind the wheel of a BMW.
Zero-to-60 times in the 530e are roughly 6 seconds, and the vehicle more than adequately blocks out road noise.
The 530e is not great in the snow with the standard RWD setup, but you can upgrade to the XDrive version for better performance in adverse conditions.
Several drive modes are offered, including: Adaptive, Sport, Comfort, Eco Pro or eDrive. When using eDrive, you can choose Auto eDrive (which lets the car switch between electric and ICE operation) or Max eDrive (which uses only the electric power). Battery control lets you set a minimum battery level, after which it will rely on ICE engine alone.
M Sport Brakes are an extra $650 if you want to improve that aspect of your drive.
The 530e has decent green credentials for a plug-in hybrid, with a rating of 72 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent). When running on gasoline only, the fuel mileage is 29 mpg.
Charging the vehicle takes about five hours with a standard home outlet, but only about three hours with an upgraded 240V outlet. So what does plugging in get you? In my experience I got about 16 miles of distance from electric drive only. Translation: This isn’t one of those vehicles you will use to go far on strictly electric power.
But it is a great option for people who have shorter commutes who want to limit the need to fill up on gas. If you drive longer distances, though, this vehicle will function most often as a standard hybrid. Plugging in will just extend times between your trips to the pump a bit.
The 530e comes with impressive safety ratings, and standard safety and tech features on the 530e include seat mounted front side-impact airbags, BMW’s active protection system and AM/FM/CD/MP3 HiFi sound system with HD radio.
The 530e features an 8.8-inch dynamic digital instrument cluster, and the centerpiece infotainment system is the iDrive 6.0 with its 10.2-inch touchscreen and a touchpad controller.
The BMW navigation system was impressive, and you have a responsive voice command system and real-time traffic information to help your route along. The rearview camera also was extremely helpful.
One thing I will say about the iDrive 6.0 system is that while it’s not overly difficult to master after some practice, the learning curve is higher than other luxury rides and less tech-savvy people may struggle some with it. The design of the controls was a bit more complicated and less intuitive than rival luxury automakers. Harman Kardon surround sound audio system is an option.
Other positives on the tech side are Remote Services, allowing doors to be remotely locked and unlocked via app, and eDrive Services, which features charging station information on your phone.
Other tech and safety options can be added, at a cost of course.
You can get the Head-up display (a nice feature to help keep your eyes on the road).
Active Driving Assistant Plus features helpful systems like the semi-automated Steering and Lane Control system, Lane Change Assistant, Blind Spot Detection, Crossroads Warning and Emergency Braking, Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go.
A lighting package with Adaptive full LED lights and automatic high beams is offered.
Parking Assistance Package with Parking Assistant Plus, Active Park Distance Control, rearview camera, and Surround View with 3D View is another option.
Premium package includes: Power tailgate, keyless entry, one year of satellite radio, wireless charging, WiFi hotspot and enhanced USB and Bluetooth.
The BMW 530e iPerformance I tested ended up at just over $66,000 after all options were added; Base price starts about $52K. What’s interesting is that the base price of the 530e is the same as the traditional 5-series sedan. This can be seen as a clear effort by BMW to push people toward greener vehicles by offering them at no extra cost.
Warranties are also strong, including: 4-year/50K mile new vehicle limited warranty; 12-year unlimited mileage rust perforation limited warranty; and a 4-year unlimited mileage roadside assistance program.
The BMW 530e iPerformance is an excellent, well-equipped luxury plug-in hybrid sedan that drives like a BMW should, with the bonus of limited electric capability to boost fuel savings.
Though it’s won’t be the preferred version of the 5-series for everyone, by adding a plug-in hybrid to the 5-series lineup, BMW offers one more way to entice buyers to pick the 5-series over its luxury sedan rivals.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.