The BMW 530e M Sport iPerformance Saloon combines official figures of 148.7 mpg, 44 g/km CO2 emissions, 9% benefit in kind and 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds thanks to its petrol-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain.
There’s currently a window of opportunity for company car drivers to save significant sums of money on benefit in kind tax by opting for a plug-in hybrid. BMW has capitalised on this by bringing to market a range of plug-in hybrid models that appeal to fleet buyers, and the BMW 530e M Sport iPerformance Saloon is the latest offering.
The BMW 530e M Sport iPerformance Saloon has a 184hp/290Nm 4-cylinder, 2-litre petrol engine combined with a 113hp/250Nm electric motor which is integrated in the 8-speed Steptronic transmission. A 9.2 kWh lithium-ion battery sits underneath the rear seat, and it also encroaches slightly into the boot, reducing the luggage compartment capacity slightly to 410 litres (compared to the 530 litres of the regular 5 Series).
Certain cars that we have on test stimulate lots of comments, and the 530e fell into this category; the car’s styling received nothing but positive feedback, with a number of people thinking that it resembled a BMW M5 in the appearance department, no doubt helped by the large alloys. And the interior ambience – as well as its technology – has also crept upmarket compared to the previous-generation 5 Series.
The 530e is a BMW, so that means that all the basics are in place: the driving position is excellent, the interior has all the controls exactly where you want them (together with BMW’s class-leading iDrive infomedia system and a large touchscreen), and everything is quick to respond.
An ‘edrive’ button allows you to select ‘max edrive’ (electric power) or ‘auto edrive’ (hybrid power). You can also choose a specific percentage of battery charge that you want to maintain.
You can also select between drive mode settings of Eco Pro, Comfort or Sport, as well as being able to (partially) disengage the traction control. Unlike most electric or plug-in hybrid cars, you can select Sport mode as well as max edrive and you can also reduce the interference of the traction control, resulting in an electric car for keen drivers. You can also change gear manually using the steering wheel-mounted paddles.
We’ve been fortunate to drive all the electric cars on sale in the UK over recent years, but there’s still something extremely satisfying about driving an electric BMW 5 Series. The 5 Series is a refined car even in petrol-engined guise, but driving the 530e on electric power (which can be done at speeds up to 87mph) takes the refinement to another level. And of course you’ve got all the instant torque that’s available from an electric powertrain.
Short, school run-type local journeys will be as much you can accomplish on electric power (see below), but not to worry, there’s a 184hp 4-cylinder, 2-litre petrol engine to propel you over longer distances. With a 0-62 mph time of 6.2 seconds, the 530e lives up to its ‘iPerformance’ model name, and the driving wheels are where they should be, at the rear, leaving the front wheels to concentrate on steering, resulting in sporty handling – even if the 530e is somewhat on the heavy side at somewhere between 1770-1845 kg depending on the actual spec. However the stand-out feature of the 530e is its ride quality. This is an extremely comfortable car that can soak up many motorway miles.
None of the BMWs that we’ve driven to date have had any annoying features that interfere with the driving experience. Unfortunately our luck ran out with the 530e due to the steering vibration every time a white line was crossed. However the deselection of the lane departure warning function on the touchscreen was soon able to fix this and we were back to driving a normal BMW: life was good again.
The official combined NEDC fuel economy figure for the BMW 530e M Sport iPerformance Saloon is 141.2 – 148.7 mpg, which equates to 44.0 – 46.0 g/km CO2. As regular readers of Green Car Guide’s plug-in hybrid reviews will know, the official combined NEDC fuel economy is a useless figure, as in real-life it completely depends on how much driving you do on electric power. The best case scenario is driving purely on electric power, when you would use no fuel. The worst case scenario is 30mpg at motorway speeds with the battery charge set to stay at 100%, in other words when the 1800kg car is operating purely on its 2-litre petrol engine. In reality, as long as you start your journeys with the car fully charged, there will be a sliding scale between these two extremes. Using the car in hybrid mode, with the petrol engine and the electric motor working together in the most efficient way, and selecting Eco Pro mode with its coasting function, we averaged 50mpg on motorway journeys of 40-50 miles. With a cd of 0.26, the 530e is certainly more aerodynamic, and therefore more efficient for motorway driving, than the many plug-in hybrid SUVs on the market. Overall, after a week of mixed driving (but with more local, electric driving than our typical week) the BMW 530e averaged 47.1mpg.
The BMW 530e has an official electric driving range of 31 miles. Our test of the 530e was in winter, and the best we experienced was a ‘displayed’ electric range prediction of 19 miles, but during driving this dropped quickly, to around 17 miles.
Just a note on the range of fuel consumption figures that BMW provides for the 530e; 148.7mpg along with 44g/km CO2 emissions and a 31 mile electric range is based on the smallest wheel and tyre size available (18-inch wheels with 245/45 tyres all round), and 141.2mpg/46g/km CO2 and a 30 mile electric range is based on the largest wheel and tyre size (19 and 20-inch wheels, or 18-inch wheels with wider tyres). The electric range drops very slightly again if winter tyres are fitted.
Of course to get the emissions and economy benefits from the 530e you need to charge the car. It takes just under three hours for a 100% charge at 3.7 kW. Although there’s a light next to the charging socket, this doesn’t illuminate the socket itself, meaning that it can be a challenge to insert the cable into the socket in the dark.
The BMW 530e M Sport iPerformance Saloon costs £47,285. However, predictably our test car came loaded with a wide range of options as follows: Comfort package (£1,995), Parking Assistant Plus (£800), M Sport Plus package (£2,145), Electronic Damper Control (EDC) (£985), powered bootlid operation (£430), electric glass sunroof (£995), split-folding rear seats (£335), Driving Assistant Plus (£2,250) and Apple CarPlay preparation (£235). With the £10,170-worth of options together with registration fees etc, the total price of our test car was £58,235. This is quite substantial, however the good news is that the 2017/18 company car benefit in kind tax liability for the BMW 530e is just 9%.
The main downside for us is that there’s no Touring version of the BMW 530e. Petrol and diesel-powered 5 Series models are also available.
The BMW 530e M Sport iPerformance Saloon is without doubt another BMW engineering triumph. The majority of hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars on sale are efficiency-focused; the 530e offers performance – and the potential for efficiency – for keen drivers. It provides luxury levels of refinement and comfort for motorway driving, and all the basics of BMW’s well balanced rear-wheel drive handling are there. However you need to remember that, at around 1800kg, this is a heavy car. Along with the size of the 5 Series, this has an impact on agility, and it also makes it less efficient in real-world driving than the smaller and lighter BMW 330e.
So should you choose the 530e petrol plug-in hybrid over a diesel? There’s been lots of media hype about diesels for many months, and it’s certainly true that diesel is not the fuel to choose for lots of driving in built up areas. However if you’re travelling long distances up and down the UK’s motorway network then one of BMW’s latest diesel engines will deliver better fuel economy, lower fuel costs, and lower CO2 emissions. The BMW 520d will deliver efficiency, and the excellent 530d will deliver both performance and economy.
The 530e will appeal to company car buyers because of its 9% 2017/18 company car benefit in kind tax liability. However if a 530e is bought as a company car and is used for lots of motorway miles, you won’t be seeing 148.7mpg. And that NEDC fuel consumption figure is likely to drop significantly under the new WLTP testing regime.
So whether the 530e is the car for you depends on your driving. If you do lots of driving in built-up areas, with no more than 20-30 miles between charges, with some longer journeys, then the 530e could make sense, and it will also deliver a lot of enjoyment in the process. Overall the BMW 530e M Sport iPerformance Saloon gains a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.