CARS: 2018 BMW 530e

THE NEW BMW 530E OFFERS THE BEST OF TWO WORLDS By Mark Keast

How fast is the world changing? Soon the “roar to life” as you start up a V8 gas engine will be replaced by the soft purr of the hybrid car, or full electric.

Major world cities are quickly moving to regulations that will require all car manufacturer to have strong electrical and hybrid fleets. Even China now, a nation with pollution levels so high one needs a Chinese Cleaver to cut through sheets of smog, is embracing new technologies that are more environmentally friendly. China is considering a move to ban gas-guzzling cars and go the full electric route.

But you crawl before you walk. When I walked up to the 2018 BMW 530e (Mediterranean Blue Metallic – a common colour for luxury autos these days, it seems), I wasn’t sure what to expect, having never driven a hybrid car.

The 530e has an electric and TwinPower Turbo gas engine, meaning the nice thing you don’t have to worry about is range. The role of the electric motor is to supplement the gas engine in the car – the two of them work together. The electric motor has an output of 111 horsepower with a maximum torque of 184 lb-ft, and the 4-cylinder combustion engine generates 180 hp and 255 lb-ft peak torque. You pull out of the parking spot in electric, until you ask it for more power, then it goes to gas. There is plenty of pick-up – 0 to 100 km/h in 6 seconds. Top speed is 235 km/h (140 km/h in electrical mode).

The battery is big enough to give you around 22-28 kilometres in eDRIVE mode – electric only. That’s perfect for city-only driving. Say for example all you need to do is drive the kids to school, and run a few errands – you could conceivably go on electrical power only. Then get back home and plug the car back in. The easiest way to exhaust the battery is highway driving or more aggressive driving in general.

For around $1,000 you could buy and install a Level 2 charger for the car. With one of these the battery takes around two hours to charge up. If you don’t want to invest in that the car has its own charger in the trunk. I had it plugged in all night for the battery to fully charge.

Luxury auto brands like BMW are all in with electric. Right the only full electric offering in their stable is the i3. By 2025, though, all BMW cars will be electrified in one way or another.

Overall with the 530e, for my first hybrid drive? Great efficiency blending nicely with the dynamic and uber luxurious BMW 5 Series.

My big complaint: finding a place to plug it in. And my frustration didn’t come down to just a paucity of Level 2 chargers, anywhere in my general facility (I even plan to bring this up at our next condo board meeting). The 530e comes equipped with its own mini charger, that you can plug into any average outlet. The issue was finding an outlet within reasonable distance to the car, and the bitching and complaining from fellow condo residents when I had the “audacity” of trying to run an extension cord to the battery hook-up on the side of the car.

Doing what you can to protect the environment is a laudatory goal for many city dwellers. Just not when having to walk or drive over an extension cord inconveniences them.

 

PRICE AS TESTED: $82,750

 

Premium Package Enhanced

  • Automatic Trunk
  • Universal Remote Control
  • Comfort Access
  • Soft Close Doors
  • Side and Rear Sunshades
  • Through Loading System
  • Seat Heating, Front and Rear
  • Ceramic Controls
  • Adaptive LED Headlights
  • High-Beam Assistant
  • Head-Up Display
  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio Tuner Harman/Kardon Sound System
  • BMW ConnectedDrive Services Professional

 

Interior Comfort Package

  • Ventilated Seats
  • Comfort Seats, Front
  • Leatherette Dashboard
  • BMW Individual Reading Lights
  • Massage Function for Driver and Passenger

 

Driver Assistance Package

  • Driving Assistant Plus includes Active Cruise with Stop and Go
  • Steering and Lane Control, Lane Keep Assistant, Cross-Traffic Alert (Front) and Evasion Assistance
  • Parking Assistant Plus w/Surround View
  • Cross-Traffic Alert (Rear)
  • Collision Warning w/ City Braking
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Blind Spot Warning
  • Rear Collision Prevention
  • Speed Limit Info
  • 360 Surround View w/ 3D View

 

Smartphone Connectivity Package

  • Apple CarPlay Preparation
  • Wireless Charging w/Extended Bluetooth and USB
  • WiFi Hotspot

 

Stand Alone Options

  • Nappa Leather
  • Dynamic Damper Control
  • Steptronic transmission with gearshift paddles