The BMW 530e iPerformance plug-in hybrid (PHEV) luxury sedan will launch in Australia in July, joining the 330e, 740e and X5 xDrive40e in the company’s growing green fleet, alongside the more radical i3 and i8.
Reflecting the brand’s wider strategy, the 530e will be priced there or thereabouts with the $108,900 BMW 530i petrol (the company hasn’t announced the official RRP), but will have the same power alongside more torque, be EV-capable for bursts of 43 kilometres, and have more specification.
The rear-wheel drive 530e is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that generates 135kW and 290Nm of torque. Behind this is mounted an electric motor with 83kW and an instantaneous 250Nm, making for combined outputs of 185kW and 420Nm.
This motor is mounted inside the conventional eight-speed automatic transmission, so its ratios work in electric mode. The 530e’s lithium-ion battery pack has a capacity of 9.2kWh (gross), performance from a standstill to 100km/h is a 530i-matching 6.2sec, while fuel consumption is claimed at 2.3L/100km on the combined cycle.
As with other iPerformance models, the 530e can drive on pure electric power with a claimed 43km range according to NEDC testing (with an EV-only speed maximum of 140km/h). In addition, the electric system can augment the combustion engine’s power delivery on-demand, via an automatic ‘eBoost’ function.
On our recent first drive, we actually managed about 50km of EV range using heavy brake-energy recuperation downhill (way more subtle than the one-pedal-driving i3), followed by cumulative fuel economy of 5.8L over the next 100km of moderately intensive driving.
Then there is the Battery control mode that preserves the battery charge at a pre-set level and uses the engine as a drive source and/or a generator in lieu, plus the Auto eDrive mode for people who don’t want to overthink it, and want the car’s brain circuitry to decide what is most efficient and when.
Powering the motor is a 9.2kWh lithium-ion battery pack that can be charged to 80 per cent by a domestic socket in four hours, or a 3.7kW BMW i wall box ($2200 plus fitment) in a smidgen under two hours. You can also use public charging stations, if you can find one.
BMW will also start rolling out wireless inductive charging, based on a strengthened ground pad fed by a 230V input that ‘talks’ to a small protected pad under the car, in the US and Europe during 2018. Not for Australia in the near future, we’re afraid…
BMW says that the front-mounted petrol engine, electric motor and battery pack (mounted low in the chassis ahead of the rear axle), gives the 530e a weight distribution of 48:52 front-to-rear.
There’s also an independent ISO certification calculating the overall environmental impact of the 530e, from the extraction of raw materials and the manufacturing process as a whole, to the usage phase and recycling down the line.
The “global warming potential” of the 530e iPerformance is deemed 15 per cent lower than that of the BMW 530i powered purely by a combustion engine. If only renewably generated power is used to charge the battery, the impact is further reduced by up to 47 per cent.
The BMW 530e iPerformance spec will about match the 530i, and come with the M Sport package adding the M Aerodynamics body kit and performance brakes (or the Luxury Line setup for the same cost).
Standard fare will include a navigation system with 10.25-inch display, wireless smartphone charging, head-up display, park assist with 360-degree cameras and 3D front/rear view, adaptive dampers, adaptive LED headlights, electric boot, 19-inch BMW M light alloy wheels, a 16-speaker harman/kardon surround-sound system and an anthracite roof liner.
Like other 5ers, there are semi-autonomous driving technologies such as an adaptive cruise control system that stops to zero, and responds to gaps in traffic more quickly than most, while the lane-keeping assist nudges you back between the lines like in a Tesla or E-Class, though regulations mean you need to take the wheel every 30 seconds or so.
In addition, the 530e gains iPerformance-specific content, such as a stationary cooling system, Acoustic Pedestrian Protection, extended ConnectedDrive services featuring eDrive stuff, the charging cable and an eight-year warranty covering battery deletion or failure.
BMW 530e standard specification: