As the race to electrification speeds up, car companies are busy introducing electrified vehicles to the market. At the moment, BMW has taken the lead in terms of offering electrified vehicles, seeing that the Munich-based company currently offers nine electrified vehicles globally, far more than any other premium manufacturer. By 2025, BMW foresees that electrified vehicles will account for between 15% to 25% of their global sales.
While BMW did offer the regular, non plug-in hybrid ActiveHybrid 5 back in 2011, that model was more of BMW testing the waters with electrification. The ActiveHybrid 5's battery capacity was only 1.35 kWh, as opposed to the 530e's 9.2 kWh unit, resulting in the ActiveHybrid's electric-only range of 4 km.
The BMW i3 kick-started BMW's i division back in 2013 followed by the i8 in 2014. In 2015, the company announced that they will be offering plug-in hybrid (PHEV) versions of its core models based on the eDrive technology.
BMW's third generation X5, codenamed F15, was the first model to wear the company's new eDrive designation. Subsequently, BMW introduced plug-in variants of its 3 Series and 7 Series globally. BMW is also the only car manufacturer that offers a full 360 connectivity that encompasses integration with Google Assistant (selected models), concierge service and smartphones applications. Additionally, BMW is the only car manufacturer to offer owners the ability to check their PHEV status from their phones.
The BMW 530e you see here was launched back in April 2017, just a few weeks after the company formally introduced the G30 5 Series in Munich.
Based on the excellent BMW G30 530i, the new 530e carries over its powertrain from its smaller sibling, the BMW 330e.
Additionally, the BMW 530e is the company’s first ever model to feature wireless charging. Yes, you can charge your 530e wirelessly via an optional wireless charging pad, which can be placed indoors or outdoors. The wireless charging pad charges the 530e using the same concept as a mobile phone, utilising inductive charging to charge the car’s hybrid battery.
The BMW 530e supports wireless charging, but owners might not be able to utilize the function immediately yet as the wireless charging pad will be introduced to the market at a later stage.
At a passing glance, it is very hard to distinguish the 530e from a regular petrol model. Keen eyed ones would have spotted the 530e’s subtle blue highlights in the active grille slats and on the wheel’s centre cover.
Additionally, the BMW 530e also gets its own 530e emblem on the boot lid, iPerformance emblems on the fenders and eDrive emblems on the C-pillars. Being a plug-in hybrid, the BMW 530e also comes fitted with a charging port, located on the front left fender.
Apart from that, there’s little to separate the 530e from the regular 530i sold here, so the plug-in hybrid variant does benefit from the good looks brought by this generation of the 5 Series.
Having driven the BMW 530i back home, the 530e’s interior remains largely identical, save for the PHEV-specific eDRIVE button on the centre console. Furthermore, digging into the infotainment system allows one to set the 530e’s charging rate.
Ergonomically, there’s little to fault the BMW 530e, as everything is laid out logically and well within reach.
Versus its closest rival, the Mercedes-Benz E350e, the 530e’s interior design does pale in comparison, as the Stuttgart-based company managed to create a classy interior thanks to the abundant usage of aluminium.
Despite that, we preferred the BMW 530e’s digital air-conditioning controls as opposed to the E350e’s, as the latter’s air-conditioning system is hooked up to the infotainment system’s display. This in turn makes changing settings a tedious affair.
Additionally, another redeeming feature of the BMW 530e is the large 10.25-inch iDrive infotainment system. The large display can be manipulated via air gestures or touch, unlike the Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND infotainment system which can only be navigated via a rotary knob or touch pad.
Similar to its stablemates, the BMW 530e is also equipped with Apple CarPlay, allowing Apple iPhone users to connect their phones to the car’s infotainment system for a more seamless integration. BMW has yet to offer Android Auto on their cars, though they already offer Google Assistant connectivity.
Although the BMW 530e rides on 40-series rubbers all round, ride comfort was never an issue. The adaptive suspension did a swell job of absorbing road irregularities. Even when we demanded more from the 530e, the suspension setup held its own well, keeping body roll in check.
With a combined system output of 249 hp and 420 Nm of torque, the BMW 530e is by no means a slouch. The century sprint is achieved in just 6.2 seconds, identical to the petrol-powered 530i. Top speed, as we explored on derestricted parts of the Autobahn, is an electronically-capped 250 km/h. Even cruising at such speeds, the BMW 530e remained exceptionally surefooted. The only wind noise that was noticeable came from the side mirrors.
Being a PHEV, the 530e is able to cruise purely on electric power alone. While BMW says that the 530e can potentially do up to 42 km on electric alone, though actual range could be slightly less. The BMW 530e’s core rival, the E350e can offer up to 33 km out of a full charge, which we reckon the 530e could match, if not beat.
During our short stint in Munich, we did notice that the powertrain refinement to be superior to the Mercedes-Benz E350e, as gear changes were a lot smoother and responds better to driver inputs. In stop-go traffic, the auto start stop system was also less intrusive than the one found on the Mercedes.
As the PHEV segment grows, the BMW 530e is seen as a wise move from BMW Malaysia as they already offer the 330e, 740Le and X5 xDrive40e. These products will no doubt help promote PHEVs as the way moving forward.
Despite that, we get the impression that the BMW 530e is a stop-gap measure until BMW offers a fully-electric 5 Series, like the fully-electric i3.
Apart from the Mercedes-Benz E350e, the boys from Sweden also have an entrant in the form of the Volvo S90 T8, though the Volvo is predominantly a front-wheel drive model with the electric motor driving the rear wheels, as opposed to the rear-wheel drive Germans. Despite that, the Volvo delivers 407 hp and 640 Nm, the most powerful PHEV at the moment.
With that said however, we still need to sample the BMW 530e locally to properly gauge how it behaves.