BMW 530e iPer­for­mance

BMW 530e iPer­for­mance £43,985

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS - OL­LIE KEW

WE SAY: PETROL-EV WITH i8 NOUS IS CLEVER... ON PA­PER

Just so there’s no nasty sur­prises with this 5-Se­ries, let’s es­tab­lish right away that, yes, you can buy the plug-in hy­brid 530e in the UK with right-hand drive. How­ever, it has plenty of com­pe­ti­tion – from within its own rank. Price-wise it slots in be­tween the four-cylin­der petrol 530i and six-pot 540i. It’s also within 20 quid of the Goldilocks 530d, which claims 60mpg and 0–62 in 5.7 sec­onds. But the 530d will rack up £750 in tax in its frst three years, while the 530e… won’t. More like £580 (£310 of which is the penalty for cost­ing over 40 grand…)

A use­ful if not life-chang­ing saving against the Chan­cel­lor, then, but what about econ­omy? PHEVs live and die by how their ap­peal­ing but lim­ited reper­toire fts with your specifc driv­ing lifestyle. So, BMW claims 29 miles of elec­tric-only range af­ter a four-and-a-half hour charge (2hrs 45 on BMW’s i Wall­box – and we only saw 19 miles of zero-emis­sion juice), plus a mean­ing­less com­bined econ­omy of 141mpg. Post-charge, we found 62mpg is a more re­al­is­tic av­er­age – still use­ful, given we drove the 530e in Ger­many and sat on the au­to­bahn at 110mph for a few min­utes.

It’s a largely re­lax­ing car to cover ground in too. No elec­tric mo­tor whine. A smooth han­dover be­tween elec­trons and fos­sil fuels – though the four-cylin­der, 181bhp petrol turbo mo­tor it­self is too gruf, too ever-present in the Five’s lux­u­ri­ant, tech-en­crusted cabin. Es­pe­cially when wind and road noise are ab­sent, the ride so pil­lowy. The en­gine in­ter­rupts the am­bi­ence like a snorer at the cinema.

Glass-half-full per­son? You’d be pleas­antly sur­prised how well the Five has sur­vived be­ing sad­dled with a 155kg gain in bat­tery, ca­bling and mo­tors. Half-emp­ties will con­cen­trate on this be­ing the least-sorted new 5-Se­ries to drive – the steer­ing is lighter and airier than a 520d’s, the body con­trol foat­ier, the sense of in­er­tia greater. But we can for­give a car that’s never go­ing to be fung around not erring to­wards ul­ti­mate driv­ing ma­chine prow­ess. It rides su­perbly, cos­sets and ofers pal­pa­bly use­ful econ­omy and qual­ifes for an air-qual­ity saint­hood.

Sav­ings are good. But not good enough. Yet

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