2018 BMW 530e: The Environmental Driving Machine

    Posted by Shane Kalicharan about 6 months ago

    BMW’s 5-series is a tried and true blend of performance, handling and luxury aimed for the executive market. It’s practically set the benchmark for what a full sized luxury sedan should be – and for good reason. But what happens when you throw an environmentally friendly wrench into the established formula? You get the 2018 BMW 530e. Does this combination of BMW heritage and modern technology still have that signature BMW feel? Let’s take it for a spin and find out.

    As far as looks go, you’d be hard pressed to tell the 530e apart from a standard 5-series. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The 5-series is a very attractive car after all, seemingly going for a stealthier, executive approach, even as high up as the M5. It’s a handsome design with a powerful presence on the road. Unique to the 530e are some blue slats on the front grilles, eDrive badging on the C-pillars and trunk, and of course, the hybrid charging port on the front quarter of the car.

    That continuity continues indoor too. The cabin is very much 5-series – which again – is not a bad thing at all. The 5-series cabin is exceptionally premium with soft and high quality materials abound, making the 5 feel almost like a baby 7. Certain interior features, like the headliner material, may feel cheap compared to competing cars like the Volvo S90 (reviewed here), but overall, the cabin is a very nice place to be. You’ll even find optional tech trickled down, like BMW’s Gesture Control, allowing you to control media with a wave of your hands. For instance, you can twirl your finger in a circular motion to adjust the volume. For those who prefer to keep things simple, standard button controls are also present.

    Powering the 530e is a combination of a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine making 180 horsepower paired with an electric motor. When running on electricity, the 530e is whisper quiet and impossibly smooth. When you need more power, the car’s gasoline engine kicks in. Usually in a hybrid you’d feel a little jerk or kick when this happens, but in the 530e, it’s remarkably seamless. Together, the engine and electric motor give a combined 248-horsepower. In such a large vehicle, this may not seem like much, but the instant torque of the electric motor makes the 530e feel much faster than you might expect. While it’s definitely geared more towards luxury than performance, the hybrid 5 has no issue keeping up with traffic.

    The gas/electric combo works well enough to give a very good fuel economy rating, but it does come at a small cost. The hybrid’s battery pack lives under the car’s rear seat, which means you lose some trunk space. That battery pack gives a claimed 50km of range before depletion, but in the real world, that figure is going to be near impossible to realistically achieve on a daily basis. Factors like your driving style, use of air conditioning or heat and even the weather will make an impact on your range. We were able to get between 20 and 30km on pure electricity for the most part. But even still, this kind of range is ideal for short commutes – and cost no gas. The battery pack takes about 7 hours to fully recharge on a standard 120v outlet, or three hours in a 240v outlet. We found it best to just leave the car in automatic mode and let its array of computers and sensors figure out how to efficiently juggle electricity and gas. With such a seamless transition between the two systems, we found the ride comfortable, peppy and economic.


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