THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: All the 5 Series qualities in a slightly more sustainable package and, after incentives, without the hybrid price penalty.
- What’s Worst: Extra weight and battery intrusion into trunk space and fuel tank size.
- What’s Interesting: After incentives (in Ontario at least) this plug-in-hybrid is the cheapest 5 Series you can buy.
Since the early 1970s, the 5 Series has straddled a mid-point position in BMW’s sport sedan lineup.
Mid-sized, mid-lux, and mid-priced, you might say, the 5 Series is a natural next step up for entry-luxury customers, expanding on 3 Series popularity with extra elan and elbow room, but without too much of a penalty on nimble performance.
And, on the other hand, the 5 Series offers upgraded luxury at a more affordable price than the full-blown, full-size 7 Series, while maintaining much in the way of the bigger car’s exclusive status and inclusive appointments.
For 2018, the BMW 5 Series lineup offers a power, performance and price progression up the trim level ladder – a 248 hp 530i xDrive ($63,000), 335 hp 540i xDrive ($70,550), 455 hp M550i xDrive ($83,000) and the maniacally muscled 600 hp M5 ($113,300).
Ah, but we’ve left out a step.
Tested here, the new 2018 530e plug-in-hybrid (PHEV) starting at $67,500 is the first 5 Series model to join BMW’s iPerformance eDrive stable.
Along with the full breadth of technologies, luxuries and latest stylings of the seventh-generation 5 Series, the 530e blends 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder gasoline-powered muscle (180 hp, 255 lb/ft) with the electric assist of an AC synchronous electric motor (111 hp, 184 lb/ft), a combined effort that averages out to an overall 248 hp, 310 lb/ft rating.
The more astute will notice that 530e’s 248 hp is the same as the 530i’s rating, along with a similar 0-100 km acceleration time of six seconds. But the electric assist adds a bit more bottom-end oomph, resulting in the higher 310 lb/ft torque rating.
Even with the extra mass of the battery pack, motor and ancillaries (+305 kg), the 530e still edges out the 530i’s power-to-weight ratio.
The 530e certainly feels peppy enough, vigorous and well planted with a low centre of gravity and the extra weight actually evening out the front/rear weight ratio.
The gasoline engine and electric motor send power to all four wheels of this xDrive model via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The 9.2 kWh battery lithium-ion battery pack sits under the rear seat, tucked away to reduce intrusion into cargo space (410 litres instead of 530 litres) and fuel tank size (46 litres instead of 64 litres).
The battery can be charged via a standard 110V household plug (seven hours) or through a 240V outlet (three hours).
BMW is looking into wireless inductive charging, done by parking over a charging pad.
There are varying accounts of the 530e EV range but, fully-charged; my graphics predicted a daily EV range of 24 km. The instrumentation usually tallies more EV miles by days end, adding in coasting distances when the auto start/stop turns the engine off. But, realistically, the electric-only range usually averages out to about 20 km of pure EV driving.
Fuel economy for the 530e is rated at 8.8/7.7L/100km (city/hwy). My personal average worked out to 5.1L/100km (comb), but that’s frankly irrelevant and depends solely on how many gas-powered kilometres you drive between charging sessions.
Along with selecting SPORT, COMFORT or ECO PRO settings on BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control, 530e drivers can also manipulate an eDrive button to choose from three EV driving modes – a default AUTO eDrive setting, MAX e-DRIVE to select EV-only propulsion or a BATTERY CONTROL setting that let’s the driver determine EV use timing and charge levels.
As you’d expect from BMW, a long list of techno-centric features are available – Blind Spot Detection, Active Lane Departure Warning and Active Lane Keeping with Side Collision Avoidance, Active Cruise Control with Stop/Go, Traffic Jam Assistant and 3D Surround View camera monitoring.
And this is all wrapped up in a sleek package with iPerformance EV trim cues – blue kidney grille slats, blue wheel hub covers, illuminated e-Drive door sills, exclusive badging and EV info displays.
So, does it really make sense to opt for a BMW 530e plug-in-hybrid? Especially considering a 24 km range that seems to pale in comparison to other PHEV boasts – Hyundai Ioniq Electric Plus PHEV (47 km), Kia Optima PHEV (47 km), Ford Fusion Energi PHEV (35 km) and Chrysler Pacifica PHEV (53 km).
Yes, it does.
Forget about the 530e $4,500 price premium compared to the equivalently powered 530i. Provincial incentives work out to $2,500 in B.C., $4,000 in Quebec and $8,400 in Ontario, so, for Ontario owners at least, the 530e is actually cheaper to buy than the entry-level 530i.
Throw in 20-plus kilometres of EV gas savings every day, reduced emissions, a little eco-conscience massaging along with a green plate free pass to HOV/HOT lane commuting, and access into the 5 Series lineup via BMW’s latest driving innovation, the 2018 530e x-Drive, seems to make a whole lot of sense.
2018 BMW 530e xDrive
BODY STYLE: Mid-size, PHEV luxury sports sedan.
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine and electric motor assist PHEV, xDrive all-wheel-drive, eight-speed automatic transmission
ENGINE: 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder (180 hp, 255 lb/ft); AC synchronous electric motor (111 hp, 184 lb/ft); combined power (248 hp, 310 lb/ft).
FUEL ECONOMY: 3.5e(30.2kWh + 0.0L)/100 km; 8.8/7.7L/100km (city/hwy)
CARGO VOLUME: 410 litres
PRICE: $67,500; As tested $83,350 incl Premium Pkg Enhanced ($6,500), Interior Comfort Pkg ($2,500), Driver Assistance Pkg ($1,900), Alert & Evasion Assist ($1,000), Nappa Leather ($1,500), Dynamic Dampers ($1,200), Smartphone Connect ($750) and Steptronic shift paddles ($500).
WEB SITE: BMW.ca
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