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BMW 530e Plug-in Hybrid

The story:
New low-emission 5-Series gets down to 102g/km
Category:E Sector (Executive Cars)
Key rival:Mercedes-Benz E-Class PiH
BMW 530e iPerformance SE
Price:£43,930
MPG:141.2mpg
Emissions:46g/km
On sale:May 2017

BMW’s hybrid march with its fledgling iPerformance brand is moving into serious executive territory with the arrival of a 46g/km version of the new 5-Series. And crucially, for both purchase price and whole-life cost, it’s cheaper than a 530d.

New low-emission 5-Series gets down to 102g/km

The new BMW 5-Series was launched with a pair of diesel engines in March, but the most efficient conventional version is following imminently in the form of the Efficient Dynamics.

Based on the SE specification, the new Efficient Dynamics model is due to with a 102g/km emissions figure and official fuel economy of 72.4mpg.

The emissions are 6g/km lower than those of the 520d SE, and come despite the ED’s 18-inch wheels being an inch larger than the standard model’s. The efficiency improvements are achieved via aerodynamic tweaks and defaulting to the Eco Pro driving mode.

A 520d ED will cost £1195 more than an SE, although BMW points out that upgrading an SE to 18-inch wheels would account for £995 of the difference.

The 5-Series Touring joins the range this summer, and BMW’s progression into its iPerformance brand will continue when the new X3 plug-in is launched by the end of the year.

This year BMW will also launch the new Z4 sports car and X7 large crossover, along with a new 5-Series Gran Turismo that’s said to be more elegant. A new X2, i8 roadster and facelifted i3 are also on their way.

The 530e is powered by a combination of 184hp 2.0-litre petrol engine and 95hp electric motor driven by a 9.2kWh battery. These two sources combine to produce the sub-50g/km figure that makes such a big difference to Benefit-in-Kind tax. The only plug-in rival, Mercedes’ E-Class PiH, manages it in base trim, but bigger wheels on its higher trim tip it into a higher band that increases BiK by three percentage points.

The BMW is offered in SE or M-Sport trims, with both under 50g/km. However, the quoted 29-mile range will mean a 14% BiK if nothing changes for the 2020/21 tax year, but if another mile can be eked out it would drop to 12% under the new bands.

This is BMW’s fourth iPerformance model in the UK, joining the 2-Series Active Tourer, 3-Series and X5. It’s priced at £150 more than a 530d, but that’s before the £2500 Government ultra low-emission vehicle grant. A 40% tax payer will also find their monthly BiK bill drops by £247 versus the diesel, while the company will save £2831 on NI contributions over three years.

Battery packaging means a 120-litre drop in boot space, taking it down to 410 litres, but you can still choose the optional split-fold rear seats, which isn’t the case with every plug-in. All BMW’s other comfort, technology and safety innovations already seen on the regular models are present.

The car has three drive modes: Auto eDrive switches between the petrol and battery powertrains automatically, using electric on lighter throttle, with the engine kicking in when more performance is required; Max eDrive uses the battery alone, with performance slightly limited; Battery Control lets the driver set a minimum charge level between 30% and 100%, and the car will use the petrol engine to ensure it stays above the required level. It’s handy for drivers doing a motorway run followed by urban use, and is a clever feature others could learn from.

The dashboard needles help you to be gentle on the accelerator and avoid activating the petrol engine. That means it’s an easier car to drive efficiently than rivals. The only criticism is that there’s no control over the regeneration levels.

The iPerformance enhances the already-excellent new 5-Series. It’s cheaper than an E-class PHEV, and has identical whole-life costs to a VW Passat GTE plug-in at 88.3p per mile. That’s 11.1p per mile less than the 530d SE. It takes plug-in vehicles another big step towards mainstream acceptance.

 

Paul Barker   

 

 

 

The verdict

Great to drive, and stacks up on running costs. Plug-ins are getting serious.