BMW 530e iPerformance
BMW 530e iPerformance £43,985
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