2018 BMW 530e iPerformance essentials: Comfortable and efficient, but is it “the one to buy?”


Car reviews / Вторник, Ноябрь 6th, 2018

What is it: The BMW 530e iPerformance is the company’s mild-hybrid version of its midsize luxury sedan. It gets a 2.0-liter four for power, along with a 95-hp, 184-lb-ft electric motor to get to 60 mph in just about 6 seconds. This one is has all-wheel drive, but it’s available in rear drive too.

Key Competitors: 2018 Lexus ES 300h, 2018 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz C350e Plug-in Hybrid

Base Price: $52,395 As-Tested Price: $66,460

Highlights: This one’s a big deal for BMW on the heels of its 330e iPerformance sedan; we’re assuming the whole range will have an iPerformance version soon. This one is loaded up with about $15K in options including things like the Cold Weather Package, Driving Assistance Package with head-up display, Lighting Package, Parking Assistance Package and more.

2018 BMW 530e iPerformance interior

The interior of the 2018 BMW 530e iPerformance looks about the same as the regular 5-Series.

Our Opinion: I was hoping, like the Lexus ES and Porsche Panamera, that this new 5-Series hybrid would be “the one to buy” in the lineup. No such luck.

It looks fine, though I’d always skip the beige on beige on beige Toyota Camry package. There are a few badges that tip you off to the fact that it has electric power, but I don't think it's overdone.

It has three drive modes in addition to the sport, comfort and eco pro settings. They are: Auto eDrive, Max eDrive and Battery Control. The first mode “ensures that the engine and electric motor interact to optimum effect in all driving situations and allows an all-electric top speed of 56 mph.” The second mode uses electric power alone to get up to its 87 mph max electric speed and the third saves the battery to be used later for pure electric driving.

It is quick off the line with the electric motors kicking in, but after that it falls flat for me. The 5-Series has the disadvantage of being a semi-entertaining car to drive in its standard form, so it has to live up to that standard. The Lexus ES, for instance, was never a sporty ride so when the hybrid feels about the same, that’s a win. But coming out of an M5 (or even a 540i) into a 530e is not the way to an enthusiast’s heart.

Everything is still smooth, so smooth in fact I had to check to make sure the 530e didn’t have a CVT. Nope, just a buttery soft eight-speed automatic.

It’s floaty and comfortable, which is good for this size and class. I’ve been complaining lately that luxury automakers have been spending too much time on sportiness, at the expense of ride quality. This feels like an old school Buick, in a good way.

There’s plenty of space in the cabin for four or five passengers, including a few car seats, but the trunk might be a deal breaker. The Bossman couldn’t even fit a regular-sized cooler back there because of the loss of cargo space due to the battery. And if you’re traveling for the weekend with kids you better FedEx some stuff ahead.

BMW makes a bunch of nice 5-Series, gas-only-powered sedans; get one of those if you want sporty luxury. However, this car gets 29 mpg combined and that’s pretty good. The V8-equipped M550 gets 25 mpg on the highway, for what it’s worth.

—Jake Lingeman, road test editor

Other Voices: The 530e joins the automaker’s three other iPerformance tongue twisters, the 330e iPerformance sedan, xDrive40e iPerformance and 740e xDrive iPerformance. You can tell you’re looking at the 5-Series plug-in hybrid from the blue kidney grille and wheel hub covers, i badging on the front fenders, eDrive emblems on the C pillars and the 530e badge on the trunk lid. The biggest giveway, though, is the charging socket on the driver side between the front wheel arch and the A-pillar. There are more not-so-subtle hints inside. Open the door, for example, and illuminated eDrive door sills greet you.

The interior is well-built and comfortable and contains the company’s latest iDrive controller, a huge improvement over the older ones. This one is much more intuitive and easy to decipher. I actually liked it, and I’ve never said that about iDrive.

Hitting the road it’s clear BMW is now focusing more on efficiency, comfort and smoothness rather than dynamics and, well, fun. The flip side is, what the plug lacks in laughs it (almost) makes up for in quiet operation, comfort and smoothness. It’s not about the car lacking speed — it’s not. Indeed, the electric motor and the turbo four get along splendidly –- the power gets put down quickly and seamlessly, especially from a standstill. And thanks to the eight-speed automatic transmission (rather than a CVT) this is one hybrid able to go about its day-to-day business like a quote unquote normal car. Even on EV power only the car is quick-ish around town. I even averaged 38 mpg, mostly on secondary roads.

Our tester’s sticker price, while not exactly a steal, at least didn’t make me gasp – and this thing was loaded. I guess I’d sum up the car this way: If you simply must have a BMW that performs like BMWs used to you might want to look at the M240i or M2. We love ’em both. If you want a roomy, comfortable and efficient midsize sedan, though, this BMW is worth a drive.

—Wes Raynal, editor

Options: Premium Package including power tailgate, comfort access keyless entry, SiriusXM radio w/1 year subscription, wireless charging, WiFi hotspot and enhanced USB and bluetooth ($2,700), Driving Assistance Package including head up display ($1,700), driving assistance plus package including active driving assistant plus ($1,700), Parking Assistance Package including parking assistant plus, active park distance control, rear view camera and surround view w/3D view ($1,300), Lighting Package including adaptive full LED lights and automatic high beams ($1,050), dynamic damper control ($1,000), Harman Kardon surround sound ($875), Cold Weather Package including heated steering wheel and front and rear heated seats ($800), M sport brakes ($650), ceramic controls ($650), soft-close automatic doors ($600), atlas cedar metallic ($550), Apple CarPlay compatibility ($300) and gesture control ($190).

On Sale: Now

Base Price: $52,395

As Tested Price: $66,460

Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 w/electric motor, eight-speed automatic, AWD

Output: 180 hp @ 4,000-6,500 rpm (184 hp electric motor, 248 hp combined), 255 lb-ft @ 1,800-4,750 rpm (310 lb-ft combined)

Fuel Economy: 29 mpg combined (72 mpge)(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)

Pros: Looks like a 5-Series

Cons: Drives like an underpowered 5-Series