This week we are reviewing the BMW 530e with the M performance package. Our vehicle was assembled in the Dingolfing plant in Germany and has an MSRP of $80500 CAD.
Fun Factor: 8
Can it Family: 7
Karaoke Friendly: 7
City Cruising: 10
One of the most enjoyable cars we test drove this year was the 530e, mixing luxury with comfort, refinement and a dash of sportiness. Yes, the 530e is a hybrid but not the traditional hybrid that people often consider as boring cars; this plug-in hybrid caters for performance.
The exterior itself screams performance with its elegant aerodynamic lines; the M car aesthetics are complemented by the vibrant "Mediterranean blue metallic" the perfect colour to drive around the French Riviera (or feel as if) in your eco-conscious 5 series. Naturally, these are not the only enhancements that make the 530e standout; you'll have a carbon fibre spoiler, diffuser and splitter if that wasn't enough, you also get massive 20 inch M performance tires. What makes the 530e tick? It's got 2 types of propulsion one is an electric engine producing 95hp and an additional turbo 4-cylinder producing 180hp for a combined total power output of 248hp, the HP number might not sound impressive however the 310 lb-ft of torque does! The gears shift smoothly thanks to a well-calibrated 8-speed transmission from ZF, the transmission used in the 530e is a similar variant used in the M550i, it is tweaked to be used as a hybrid variant in this vehicle. BMW announces that you can achieve 0-100km/h in 6 seconds, in our real-life test, we reached 100 km/h in 6.45 seconds. The rapid acceleration is due to the electric engine pushing you forward at first before the internal combustion engine gives an additional boost. We felt the car launch so powerfully up to 60km/h that we expected the vehicle to attain a result closer to 5 seconds. Most of the acceleration done in the 530e will be from a dead stop, and it will get you away from the red light quicker than some of its non-hybrid counterparts and most of the hybrid competition.
We test drove the 530e extensively in the city and on the HWY, we decided to drive our test vehicle on a longer stretch, so we drove Montreal to Ottawa in a journey of nearly 450km, and the plug-in hybrid still came out to be more efficient than the standard version of the 530i or something like an E300. Now BMW announces a combined consumption between 1.9L to 2.1L per 100km and electric consumption of 13.1 to 14.1 kWh/100km. In our test, we achieved not do use any fuel during our regular week commute in the city. BMW announces a range of 26km per fully charged battery which, as reported, would take 2.5h to charge from 0-100%. We saw a range varying from 32-45km per charge and more like a 2h charging time from 0% with a level 2 charger; it is possible to charge using a regular household plug and the charging time than takes a little bit longer than 5 hours. We alternated between level 2 and a regular household plug to see if it was feasible just to use the regular household plug and; yes, we did over 150km in the city without needing any fuel either charging at home or conveniently while doing our groceries. We saw an actual combined electric usage of 23.3kWh/100km. This naturally included us driving enthusiastically and using it while driving on the HWY. Now we achieved a combined fuel consumption, over a distance of 1000km, of 5.2L per 100km, this high number due to us testing the vehicle with different driving settings. Now driving the car normally on the HWY we saw a fuel consumption of 4.9L per 100km when driving in the hybrid mode. Now the question on everyone's mind must be how did we achieve a higher combined fuel consumption. The 530e offers a mode where it charges the battery while driving and it will do so quite quickly within an hour or so, and in that mode your fuel consumption will skyrocket to 9.8L per 100km. Currently using this feature is somewhat counterproductive in North America, with some exceptions, if you need to finish your drive at slower city speeds, where cars consume more fuel. However, one day laws might change, and we might see a shift similar to certain European cities where internal combustion engines will get banned in city centres, and at that point, the SAVE feature will come in handy on your HWY commute.
Can the 530e be a family car? In most Electric/PHEV/Hybrid vehicles, we tested recently there was some sort of compromise whether it is seating, cargo or the height of the car. In this case, the 530e offers ample seating space; the only drawback is that you will have slightly less space in your trunk compared to the traditional 530i, you will see a similar cargo as in the Volvo S90 T6 which isn't a plug-in in North America. That being said, we were still able to put 2 medium suitcases in the trunk without any hassle, and we still had more space in the trunk for other items such as an umbrella stroller. If going for a hike, you'll have sufficient room for a jogging stroller although it will take away a large part of your trunk. The load floor is flat and you can still fold the rear seats when you need to fit longer packages or boxes, and the trunk doesn't even need to be closed by hand; just press a button and it will close.
The rear bench offers enough seating for 3 children, and it would be possible for 3 smaller adults on shorter journeys. The person in the middle might not have the most enjoyable experience because the seat is smaller, higher and has the transmission tunnel in the middle hence always having their legs close to both other passengers. We also noticed that this person will always inadvertently change the rear climate controls as these are somewhat awkwardly positioned. Ideally, the rear seats will offer seating for 2 adults in luxury, including "peasant blockers" as The Straight Pipes would say. The front passengers will get large, elegant and styled black Nappa leather seats with contrasting stitching. They offer cooling on hot summer days, and the car also offers heated seats for those chilly winter days.
So can the 530e be a long haul commuter driving from one urban area to another? Yes, even if the 530e has a smaller fuel tank of 46L vs 68L for the regular version, you'll be able to drive almost the same distance since the fuel consumption is lower and the battery regenerates when coasting or going downhill, when the engine shuts off and the electric engine does all the work. Those of you that have access to lots of mountain roads will see right away all the efficiency gained by driving downhill and not having to burn any fuel. In our road trip, we fueled up twice to really see if the numbers shown by cluster were accurate. The first time we fueled up a big 9 litres the first time after driving more than 175km.
The Harman/Kardon sound system offers clear sound experience in the 530e. It's able to reproduce most music styles; not one style has been put forward. Adjustments can be made to get more depth, in our opinion, this will not be necessary as the system is already setup in a way that most people may not notice the tweaks to make it sound better. If you prefer the full music experience, we strongly suggest the Bowers & Wilkins sound system for a price of $4900. It might seem a lot; however, it is worth every penny as it has 16 speakers, including 2 diamond tweeters that are pure, synthetic diamonds. It will also enhance the interior with its stainless-steel speaker trim that has a Fibonacci cut-out design, making sure that the sound coming out of your speakers follows the golden rule. Okay, okay, this might be overdoing it a little; nevertheless, the system does sound heavenly. As for the infotainment, it is the new version that was also included in the 330i and X5 xDrive40i we tested recently. You can check out the reviews to get more details on it. You can check out the reviews to get more information on these. One thing we particularly enjoyed on the 530e was the BMW Connect app, which is available in Apple's App store, the reason being that you can verify if your car has finished charging, verify how long it will take to charge, unlock the car, turn on the lights,or sound the horn. If that wasn't enough, you can Climatize the car without the engine turning on and setup charging hours in case you have cheaper rates for charging at night. One feature we also like from the app was the possibility to get a 3D of where your car is; you can see exactly what is around the vehicle which makes it easier to find it in a crowded place.
How is car seat installation in the 530e? As with every other BMW, ISOFIX ports are hidden under a little latch that can be moved upwards to gain access to the ISOFIX ports. The latches are not hidden too far behind, making it a quick breeze to install the car seat. It would be nice to have the door open a little wider to make it easier to fit larger car seats. It will not hinder larger car seats to be installed, luckily. The rear anchor can be accessed behind the headrest without too many complications. The installation should be quick and swift in the BMW 5 series, and the hybrid version doesn't make it more complicated. It's easy for children to access the rear seats by themselves is also, the doors aren't too heavy to open, and the low stance of the car makes it easy for them to enter the car. What also makes it easier is that the car will soft close the doors, if children didn't close the door completely, it would close it by itself.
Finally, for the city driving, we really found the 530e to be the most enjoyable to drive, once you've experienced driving without any vibrations from the engine it is hard to imagine that plugin-hybrids didn't exist before. The driving experience felt almost Rolls-Royce like in the sense that no outside noise would come inside the cabin, making it a relaxed experience while driving even in traffic. In our test, the longest range we were able to observe was in the city reaching 40km. Yes, this might not be easily obtained; however, if you're very careful, it is possible in the city. BMW announces the range to be 26km and in our test were never able to get a range lower than 32km. As mentioned before, when testing in the city we did not use any fuel during 5-day span commuting. We only started using fuel when we decided to make a road trip where we drove more than 30km on the HWY.
Why would we buy BMW 530e and what we liked: The delightful driving experience; it's sporty and the driving dynamics are not compromised being a hybrid vehicle. Excellent fuel consumption on long trips and no fuel in the city. Elegantly styled interior, accessible commands for the infotainment, the possibility to charge the car at most charging stations using a level 2.
Why wouldn't we buy the BMW 530e and what we didn't like: We would like to see an advertised range of 50km and maybe the possibility to have the battery charged with a level 3 charger.
BMW Canada has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle, we have no affiliation with BMW Canada, and the above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the vehicle referred to above.