BMW 530e hybrid engines, drive & performance
You get bona-fide sports saloon pace and grace, but the ride is slightly firm
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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.
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.
In This Review
- 1VerdictThe 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
- 2Range, MPG, CO2 & chargingWith a pure-electric range of over 30 miles and CO2 emissions as low as 31g/km, the 530e will be cheap to run provided you charge it up regularly
- 3Running costsThe BMW 530e's running costs are extremely low if you’re a company-car user, but could be quite steep if you’re a private buyer
- 4Engines, drive & performance - currently readingYou get bona-fide sports saloon pace and grace, but the ride is slightly firm
- 5Interior & comfortBeing the same as the standard 5 Series is no bad thing given that it brings limo-like comfort
- 6Practicality & boot spaceThe 530e loses some boot space in order to accommodate its batteries, but it’s still adequate for practicality by executive-saloon standards
- 7Reliability & safetySafety and reliability are both BMW 5 Series strong points, and the 530e plug-in hybrid is no different