Saturday, March 31, 2018



The BMW 530e is pretty much a smaller version of the BMW 740e that I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, and I have the same issue with the 530e, a new plugin hybrid for 2018,  that I did with the 740e.

I just don’t “get” the infatuation with plugin hybrids that deliver minimal mileage on electric power only.

I was able to go a bit farther on electric power with the midsize 530e than I did with the full-size 740e, which seemed to be about a blink, but still not so much that it would be classed as a “fully electric” vehicle. I still couldn’t get a full round trip of just over 20 miles in electric mode with the 530e, though it did seem to have more range than the full-size 740e.

That may not be much of a fair test, but it doesn’t make all the hassle with plugging the car in overnight to get a full charge worth it, at least not to me.

Of course, if you can pony up $51,400 for it, a figure that can quickly rise to over $65,000 when options are added in, you probably can afford to install a 240 volt charging system at your home and reduce 

That is especially when you also take into consideration just how the 2018 530e iPerformance sedan performs when the 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder gas engine kicks in.

Running in conjunction with the electric motor like a typical hybrid setup, it sends 248 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque to the real wheels, enough to move its 4,226 pounds from zero-to-60 mph in 6.1 seconds, according to company clockers.

Mated with a 6-speed automatic Steptronic transmission with paddle shifters, mileage figures are more than decent, too — 29 miles-per-gallon combined city/highway.

Plus, and this is the big thing, you get all the finer things typical of the 5-Series portfolio (the turbo 4-cylinder 530i, V6 540i, diesel 540d, and V8 M550i), which means lots of leather and wood and soft-touch materials and lots of technological features such as navigation with a 10.2-inch high-definition screen and Apple CarPlay (but not Android Auto; sorry).

The front seats are adjustable 16 ways and include 4-way lumbar support, and you can get upgrades for heating and cooling functions as well as massaging front seats.

Dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, and a 2-way power moonroof also are among standard features, and the soft-close automatic doors are a nice touch.

The overall cabin is spacious with front legroom of 41.4 inches and rear of 36.5. Trunk space is significantly less on the 530e from what is offered on other 5-Series models. Max is 14.5 cubic feet compared to 18.7 on the 530i, the latter figure being among class leaders. But the backseat folds with a 40/20/40 split to open up more space.

The exterior features BMW’s distinctive kidney grille and LED headlights and fog lamps along with eDrive badging on the C pillars. The door sills also get eDrive lettering, and there’s an eDrive button on the console in case you need another reminder that this is a gas-electric hybrid.

What I liked about the 2018 BMW 530e iPerformance: The overall driving experience is what you expect from BMW. It more than lives up to the company’s billing as an “ultimate driving machine” even with the “politically correct” drivetrain. (That is what a friend of mine called the 740e, and I considered it too good of a description not to borrow it from him!)

What I didn’t like about the 2018 BMW 530e iPerformance: All the technology is nice, but can be overwhelming. At least the Germans seem to have dumbed it down a bit, but performing the simplest of tasks still take extra steps, which can be distracting.

Would I buy the 2018 BMW 530e iPerformance? Yes, and no. Or no, and yes. I love the overall vehicle and like that it is a midsize sedan over the full-size 740e, but I’m just not a fan of the plugin technology. One appealing thing is that the MSRP is low enough that when you take into considerations the tax credits you get for the electric technology, you likely will wind up paying less for it than for the base 530i.

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