BMW 530e iPerformance review

The best thing about the BMW 5 Series plug-in hybrid is that it feels like every other 5 Series – refined, classy and spectacularly good to drive

£45,810 - £49,110
Plug-in hybrid

Pros

  • Limo-like luxury and refinement
  • Decent pure-electric range
  • Cheap company-car tax

Cons

  • Boot size is compromised
  • Some safety kit costs extra
  • Expensive for private buyers

Listen up, company-car drivers: if you’re after a swanky management express, you should start here – the BMW 530e iPerformance. This is one of those cars that seems to do it all. It has a pure-electric driving range of 29 miles and a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine to keep you going when you’ve used up the battery charge. Recharging won’t be difficult; the 530e uses a standard Type 2 plug (cables for Type 2 and three-pin domestic sockets are included), which will fit the vast majority of public and workplace charge points. The car should charge up in less than three hours from any dedicated car charger, while even a normal domestic socket will deliver a charge in around four hours.

Together, the electric and petrol engine produce 248bhp, which means that this rear-wheel drive, 5 Series plug-in hybrid will do 0-62mph in just 6.2 seconds, yet official CO2 emissions are as low as 46g/km. Fun, luxurious and cheap… Well, cheap on company-car tax, but not cheap if you’re a retail buyer. There’s no government grant offered for plug-in hybrid vehicles any more, so the BMW 530e looks pricey, costing some £8,000 more than a diesel 520d SE, although the 530e is still cheaper than higher-performance 5 Series models such as the 530d.

There’s very little compromise to the generally excellent abilities of the 5 Series in the name of the 530e’s plug-in hybrid powertrain. It’s still one of the most involving executive saloons or SUVs out there, including the relatively few PHEV rivals such as the Volvo XC60 T8.

Driving in electric mode makes for super-refined progress, of course, and you can do fast motorway speeds no problem without rousing the petrol engine, provided you’ve got the necessary battery charge. Even when you're relying on the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, the 530e is quiet and smooth, thanks in no small part to the slick, standard eight-speed automatic gearbox.

One of the few niggles with the 530e is that the added weight of the batteries makes for a lumpier ride than you get in other 5 Series models; it heaves and pitches a bit more over undulations and speed bumps. Even so, it’s a long way from uncomfortable, and still feels appropriately cosseting.

The only other compromise you make in the name of pure-electric running is a slightly smaller boot. The 530e’s 9.2kWh battery is slotted under the boot floor, which means you lose 120 litres compared to the standard diesel or petrol 5 Series, but the 410 litres remaining should be enough for most regular executive and family-car duties. There’s no estate version of the 530e, sadly.

Ultimately, the 530e is likely to be a tricky financial proposition for retail buyers, although big potential fuel savings could make it worth the extra initial outlay. This car’s real appeal is to business users, who’ll save some £1,800 a year on BiK tax (for 40% taxpayers) compared to a 520d SE, on top of the lower running costs. If the maths adds up, the 530e iPerformance is one of the best versions of one of the best executive cars in the world.