BMW 530e hybrid engines, drive & performance

You get bona-fide sports saloon pace and grace with the 5 Series hybrid, but the ride is slightly firm

BMW 530e xDrive
Overall rating

4.5 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance rating

4.5 out of 5

0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
6.1-6.2s146mphRear or four252bhp

The 530e certainly warrants its badge, and lives up to the 5 Series’ reputation as the enthusiast’s option in the executive class. Whether you go for the rear-wheel drive model or the four-wheel drive 530e xDrive, it’s got hot-hatch pace and sports-saloon level of fun.

BMW 530e hybrid engine, 0-62mph and acceleration

The 530e’s electric motor is integrated into the eight-speed automatic gearbox, although you still have an uninterrupted stream of electric acceleration when you’re in electric drive mode. Performance is hard to criticise. With 94bhp from the electric motor and 182bhp from the petrol engine, the 530e will streak to 62mph from rest in 6.1 seconds (6.2 for the xDrive), which is on par with the 530i.

It’s certainly brisk, by any measure, and you really notice the boost from the electric engine as it kicks in to help fire the 530e up the road with both petrol and electric power working in unison. The similarly appealing Mercedes E 300 e is usefully faster but the BMW is still the better car to drive and live with.

Handling

The BMW 5 Series has long been considered the go-to executive car for anyone after something that’s fun as well as cosseting, and the 530e lives up to that reputation. Weight is the only thing stopping it from offering quite the same finesse as the rest of the 5 Series range, as those batteries do add quite a few kilos and make it feel a fraction less poised during fast direction changes.

Even so, you’d probably need to drive the plug-in hybrid back-to-back with another 5 Series to tell the difference, so it’s safe to say that the 530e is one of the most entertaining plug-in hybrids you can buy, despite its electrification.

You won't be disappointed with the handling in the four-wheel drive 530e xDrive, either. It is a touch more inclined to understeer if you drive it with some vigour, but it's still a fantastically relaxed cruiser that can also deliver more entertainment on the right road than you'd ever expect of a heavy executive saloon. The 530e is the best large executive plug-in hybrid car to drive, whichever model you go for.

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