BMW’s 530e, the fourth plug-in hybrid in this automaker’s growing iPerformance lineup in the U.S., combines a TwinPower Turbo engine with an electric motor to achieve desired performance and efficiency. The 180 horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and 111 horsepower electric motor feature a total output of 248 horsepower and 310 lb-ft torque. This model marks the first time a BMW iPerformance model is available with either sDrive rear-wheel-drive or xDrive all-wheel-drive.
The electric motor and combustion engine deliver power to the wheels via an 8-speed Steptronic transmission that’s optionally controlled by paddle shifters. With the electric motor in front of the transmission, all gear ratios are also available in the all-electric mode. This eliminates the need for a torque converter and helps offset the weight penalty of adding electric drive. T
Energy is supplied to the motor via a lithium-ion battery pack with a total capacity of 9.2 kilowatt-hours. This provides an all-electric range of 16 miles with a total gasoline-electric range of 370 miles. The battery pack features refrigerant cooling and is located beneath the comfortable and well-appointed cabin’s rear seat.
Drivers can select Auto eDrive, Max eDrive, and Battery Control modes to tailor the driving experience. In the default Auto eDrive mode, the engine and electric motor work optimally under all driving situations and allow all-electric driving at up to 56 mph. In Max eDrive, the 530e can run on electricity alone up to 87 mph. Battery Control mode lets the driver set charge level manually and makes it possible to conserve or even increase battery capacity while on the highway, so urban driving in the miles ahead can be entirely on electric power.
The 530e iPerformance is well-equipped with driver assistance systems, featuring Blind Spot Detection, Traffic Jam Assistant, Lane Departure Warning, and Active Lane Keeping Assistant with Side Collision Avoidance. Along with maintaining any selected speed, Dynamic Cruise Control supports energy-saving coasting by decoupling the engine from the powertrain when the driver lifts off the accelerator at higher speeds. Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go uses radar to adjust a pre-selected speed to traffic conditions. It can brake to a standstill in stop-and-go traffic and automatically sense vehicles ahead so speed can be adjusted earlier and smoother.
Further enhancing driving safety is the 530e’s Evasion Aid capability that provides evasive steering action if a quick lane change is required at speeds up to 100 mph. Dynamic Stability Control handles the faster steering and counter-steering needed during evasive maneuvers to reduce vehicle instability. Evasion Aid also uses information from the car’s sensor systems to check how much unobstructed space is available around the vehicle.
It’s notable that the 530e is offered at the same $52,650 base price as the gasoline-powered 530i, which bucks traditional pricing practices in which buyers typically pay a substantial premium for a more efficient plug-in hybrid variant. It’s a laudable move on BMW’s part that may well entice more new car buyers to step up to the ‘greener’ model.