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In-depth reviews

BMW 530e hybrid performance, top speed & engine

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

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Performance, engine & drive rating

4.5 out of 5

Model0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
530e6.1s146mphRear288bhp
530e xDrive6.2s146mphFour288bhp

The BMW 530e certainly warrants its badge, and lives up to the 5 Series’ reputation as the driving enthusiast’s option in the large executive-car class. Whether you go for the rear-wheel-drive model or the four-wheel-drive 'xDrive' variant – or indeed, the more powerful, six-cylinder 545e – you get hot-hatchback pace and sports-saloon handling as standard.

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 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 petrol model.

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We found it brisk by any measure, and we really noticed the boost from the electric motor 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 5 Series has long been considered the go-to executive car for anyone after something 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 range, as those batteries 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 it back-to-back with another 5 Series to tell the difference; it’s safe to say that the 530e is one of the most entertaining hybrids you can buy.

You won't be disappointed with the handling of the four-wheel-drive 530e xDrive variant, either. It's 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 car.

In addition to the two 530e models, there’s also a more powerful 545e xDrive. We found it properly quick – we’ve reviewed it separately – but few buyers will feel compelled to spend the extra on such marginal performance and refinement gains. In short, the BMW 5 Series hybrid is the best large executive plug-in hybrid company car to drive, whichever model you go for.

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Richard is editor of DrivingElectric, as well as sister site Carbuyer.co.uk, and a regular contributor to Auto Express. An electric and hybrid car advocate, he spent more than five years working on the news and reviews desk at Auto Express and has driven almost every new car currently on sale.

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