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BMW 530e xDrive plug-in hybrid review

31 Jan , 2020  

It’s been a while since we sampled anything BMW, with the last motor being the 3 Series hybrid it made sense to continue with its bigger brother the 530e.

Prices start at just under £47,000 for the 530e in SE trim, add xDrive and that jumps to around the £49,000 figure.

If you opt for M Sport as seen here expect to pay £52,130.

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Looks

If you’re after an innocuous saloon that will blend into the background you’ve come to the right place.

It’s not a bad looker by any means, it’s just not exactly exciting in any sense of the word.

Over the last few years, the 5 has shared more looks with the 3, bringing it far more in line with BMW’s other offerings. That’s changed a little with the latest 3 Series, a fresher front face places the lights into the bumper with a slightly squatter grille. But to the uninitiated, they’re damn similar.

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We’re totally not sold on the black alloys against the Mediterranean Blue Metallic paintwork. It looks incredibly aftermarket and a tad ricey if we do say so.

Stick with silver wheels if you’re opting for the Med Blue.

Drive

Packing a total of 252HP and 420 Nm of torque means the BMW 530e xDrive can sprint to 62 in just 6.2 seconds. Not bad for such a big old eco lump.

ICE power is provided by a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol, matched with a larger 12 kWh battery.

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That’s been upped from a dinky 9.2 kWh version for 2019. That means you’ll get an electric range of up to 41 miles at speeds of up to 87 MPH if used with the ‘Max eDrive’ mode. Typically, it’s 68 MPH.

At lower speeds you notice the electric shove far more, it fills the torque until the petrol catches up. This gives that EV like surge from a standstill, making nipping in and out of gaps in traffic a breeze.

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Although it lacks the outright urgency of the six-cylinder diesel we’d previously sampled, it’s plenty quick enough for the most part.

You can cycle through the different drive modes, and you can even ‘save’ the battery for use later, which is incredibly helpful if you need to make that work commute the next day.

Using the 5 in ‘sport’ mode while saving the battery charges up the pack pretty quickly. I headed out with less than a quarter of a charge, over 30 mins or so it was nearly full.

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Steering is responsive, you get a sense of that agility that BMW’s are known for even if it feels a little blunted in a car of this size. The added weight probably doesn’t help compared to the 520i though, but we’re yet to sample the latter.

xDrive adds a little extra heft to the 530e, but it also gives you a ton of grip out of corners. It makes getting the power down incredibly simplistic, just floor it, and you go, even in the damp, slippery conditions, we were out in. There’s no rear-end wiggle, no flickering traction control light of safety.

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To top up the battery in the 530e xDrive, there’s a flap on the front nearside wing. You should be able to fully charge in just under three hours from a 3.7 kW BMW wall box, or five hours from a standard plug socket.

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Interior

As you’d expect the inside of the 530e is incredibly sumptuous, with deeply hugging seats and the trick BMW Display Key is a nice touch if you add an extra £235 to the price. Alternatively, it comes as part of the £1,495 ‘Technology Pack’.

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Personally, there are far too many buttons strewn across the dash, the numbered ones for the radio are particularly old-fashioned these days. So much of it could be relegated into the iDrive interface but simply isn’t.

The heated steering wheel is also incredibly thick, making it look almost comical compared to a regular wheel.

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Rear seat legroom is decent, but you’ll want to stick to two rear occupants and forget the squished middle seat. Split-folding rear seats cost an extra £335…yes really.

Boot space measures in at 410 litres, losing 120 due to the under-seat battery pack. The floor is thankfully flat though, making loading and unloading far easier than some EV capable competitors.

BMW 530e xDrive Conclusion

xDrive is a nice addition to have, especially in the UK where much of our time is spent in damp or wet conditions. But in reality, it isn’t necessary for our mild, often snowless climate.

The new extended EV range is a welcome addition. For businessmen and women with a nearby office who then need to traverse the motorways for meetings, the 530e makes total sense, blending the best of pure electric driving with the frugality of a hybrid while nearly matching the MPG of a diesel for longer jaunts.

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Owner / Editor of Carwitter - French car fiend, hot hatch lover. Freelance writer and car journalist I've turned my passion for cars into my livelihood.