BMW 530e hybrid 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

£46,820 - £52,120
Plug-in hybrid

Pros

  • Limo-like luxury and refinement
  • Four-wheel drive version
  • Cheap company-car tax

Cons

  • Boot size is compromised
  • Some safety kit costs extra
  • No estate version
Car type Electric range Fuel economy CO2 emissions
Plug-in hybrid 29-34 miles 177-202mpg 34-51g/km

Listen up, company-car drivers: if you’re after a swanky management express, you should start here – the BMW 530e plug-in hybrid. This is one of those cars that seems to do it all. It has a pure-electric driving range of some 25 miles in the rear world, 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 charging points. A full charge from a dedicated charger will take three and a half hours, or a normal domestic socket will take five and a half hours.

Together, the electric motor and petrol engine produce 248bhp, which means that the 5 Series hybrid will do 0-62mph in just 6.2 seconds, yet official CO2 emissions are as low as 34g/km. Fun, luxurious and cheap… Well, cheap in terms of company-car tax, but not cheap for retail buyers. The 530e costs some £8,000 more than an equivalent diesel 520d, although the 530d is far closer on performance yet costs much the same as the 530e to private buyers.

There’s little compromising the generally excellent abilities of the 5 Series in the name of the plug-in hybrid powertrain. It’s still one of the most involving PHEVs out there, including rivals such as the Mercedes E-Class hybrid and Volvo S90 Recharge.

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.

However, one of the few niggles we have with the 530e is that the added weight of the batteries makes for a lumpier ride than in other 5 Series models; it pitches a bit more over undulations and speed bumps. Even so, it’s still appropriately cosseting. 

The four-wheel drive 530e xDrive feels much the same. We drove it on UK roads and while it does feel a touch more inclined to understeer than the rear-wheel drive, honestly you'd be hard-pushed to notice and the all-weather ability will more than justify the £2,000 premium that the xDrive system commands.

The only other compromise you make in the name of pure-electric running over a standard petrol or diesel 5 Series is a slightly smaller boot. The 530e’s 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 is plenty for most regular executive and family-car duties.

There’s no estate version of the 530e, sadly, although BMW is bringing the Touring version of the smaller 330e hybrid to the UK in July 2020. If you do want an executive estate plug-in hybrid, you should consider the Volvo V60 or Mercedes E-Class.

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 a considerable amount per year on BiK tax compared to a 520d SE, on top of the lower running costs.

If the maths adds up, the 530e is one of the best versions of one of the best executive cars in the world. For a more detailed look at the BMW 530e, read on for the rest of our in-depth review, or check out our twin test where we put it up against the Mercedes E 300 e.