BMW’s 530e iPerformance Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) offers a modest 31-mile EV range as well as the reassurance of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine to augment the battery when you’re out on the open road. In most other respects it’s identical to its petrol- and diesel-powered stablemates, so it’s an executive class-leader with extra environmental credentials. Business users will save around £1,800 a year on BiK tax (for 40% taxpayers) compared to a 520d SE, on top of the lower running costs.
From the outside, only the badging, blue brake callipers and the extra filler flap (hiding the charging port) reveal that this BMW has not one, but two forms of propulsion. Inside there are bespoke digital dials on the dashboard and an eDrive button by the gearlever, plus e-Drive sill finishers. Otherwise, it’s a typical 5 Series: classy, logical and impeccably comfortable. The only other difference is the boot size, due to the need to accommodate a 9.2kW/h battery beneath the boot floor. This is 410 litres, compared with 530 litres for the conventional 5 Series models.
In electric-only mode, the 530e can travel for around 31 miles, so if your daily commute is half that (or if you have charging facilities at the office) you won’t need to use a drop of petrol all week long. Alternatively the combinationof 182bhp, 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor delivers a combined 249bhp and 420Nm of torque. 0-62mph takes just 6.2 seconds and top speed is 146mph (87mph is possible on electric power alone). Depending on the battery’s charge status and the amount of power required by the driver, the electric motor can either drive the vehicle by itself or support the internal combustion engine. When braking it converts kinetic energy into electrical energy that is then fed into the high-voltage lithium-ion battery. Official fuel consumption figures are based on a set route of about 7 miles, therefore the 141.2 combined mpg figure will depend on the length of your daily journey and recharging routines.
Standard equipment from the base SE spec includes 17-inch alloy wheels, two-zone automatic climate control, iDrive infotainment system with Bluetooth and satellite navigation, leather upholstery, cruise control with braking function, LED headlights, parking distance control with front and rear sensors, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and sports leather steering wheel. With the iPerformance offering, BMW adds eDrive-specific driving modes, aluminium trim, a five-metre charging cable, hybrid-specific instrument cluster and fast charging capabilities. The instrument cluster includes dials that help the driver to make efficient use of the electric drive with information such as battery charge level and drive status. Ambient lighting, cruise control with braking function, BMW Professional Multimedia and Park Distance Control are all standard on SE models upwards.
BMW has also given the 530e a wireless charging system, which has only recently been released. When you park the front-end of the car over a special charging pad and switch the engine off, the car will automatically connect to the pad and start charging the battery.
A torsionally-stiff but light body construction gives the 5 Series excellent occupant protection in the event of an accident, while systems like Dynamic Stability Control help to ensure you don’t have one. Pedestrian warning with city braking function comes as standard, while features like Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Headlights are options.
There are strong advantages for company car users to choosing a PHEV with its lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, and the good news about the 530e iPerformance is that there are no downsides. You get the refinement, technology and driving enjoyment of a BMW 5 Series and among executive class cars it doesn’t get better than that. If you live in an urban area and your commute is less than 31 miles, the 530e will enable you to use it as a pure electric vehicle for work and a ‘normal’ 5 Series on longer journeys. Company car tax payers too will benefit from an official CO2 emissions figure of 46g/km.
M Sport model.