The seventh-generation 5 series BMW was introduced in 2017, and the lineup includes a plug-in hybrid version called the 530e, which has been updated for 2021. The 530e is an interesting car since it tries to be a fuel-efficient hybrid that drives on electricity alone, yet it is a BMW and customers expect it to be fun and luxurious. We found it to be unexciting to drive and dull at first, but after spending a few days with the car, we started getting attached, and the car grew on us. The problem is we expect every BMW to drive like an M3 and these days BMW has many models to suit different tastes.

The 530e is available as a two-wheel drive sedan or an all-wheel drive xDrive version. Our test car was the rear-drive version. Both are powered by a 181-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine supplemented by a 107-hp electric motor for a combined rating of 288 horsepower, an increase of 40 horsepower over the previous 530e. The electric motor sits between the engine and the standard eight-speed automatic transmission.

The 530e gained some power, but it is also longer by 1.2 inches. It is also more aerodynamic with a drag coefficient of 0.27. The changes make the economy minded 530e into a pretty quick car. It is capable of 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph when equipped with all-season tires, or 146 mph if equipped with performance tires.

Inside the 530e, you will find typical BMW luxury. The dash design is clean and modern looking, and you are faced with two 12.3-inch displays. The gauge design on most higher-end cars is just a digital display of gauges and the BMW version is not one of the best designs. All the information is there, but we would prefer more normal looking virtual gauges, which is a matter of personal opinion.

The 530e uses double-wishbone front and five-link rear suspensions to deliver excellent handling and long-distance comfort. Our car had the optional M Sport suspension, available as part of the optional M Sport package, which includes specially tuned spring and shock settings, plus a 10 mm drop in ride height. If you are used to a BMW driving like the old E30 M3, the new 530e will be a disappointment. This is not an M car and is geared toward people that want a fuel-efficient luxury car. Once you realize that, your approach to the 530e changes and your love will grow.

The suspension is tuned to be soft and it is clear that comfort was the main consideration. Drive the 530e on your daily commute and you will think your city finally listened to your complaints and fixed those rough roads. The ride is serene, smooth and comfortable. Many cars can do that, but what really made the 530e different was what happens when you start taking some corners at a rapid pace. The BMW engineers have really worked hard and have found the perfect balance between ride and handling.

Our car was wearing 275-35-19 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 ZP all-season tires and the tires were quiet yet sticky and fit the nature of the car well. Push the car hard in a corner and you will be reminded that this is not a sports car, but few owners will do that. Push the car to 80 percent, which is the hardest most owners will go, and the 530e feels solid and planted. And that is where the 530e is different from the competition. There is some sports car DNA in the chassis because the BMW engineers know a few things about building sports sedans.

The 530e also can be driven by the electric motor alone with a range of about 21 miles. That is not much range, but is just enough to go to the grocery store and back. It would be nice if it could go at least 100 miles. The rest of the time you are driving on the gasoline engine.

The 530e starts out at $57,200. Our car had a long list of options, many of which you can do without. Some of these were white leather seats for $2,500, which were beautiful, but we suspect that they could get dirty with age, and the $800 parking assistance package that is really not necessary if you are a NASA driver. Our total came out to $70,485, which is a lot of money, but you do end up with a good balance of luxury, economy and sport and that is not easy to find.


Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, plus 107-hp electric motor
Horsepower: 181 @ 3,800 – 6,500 rpm
Torque: 258 @ 1,400 – 3,600 rpm
Front Suspension: Double wishbone
Rear Suspension: Five link
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Axle Ratio: 2.23:1
Curb Weight: 4,220 lbs.
Base MSRP: $57,200
Image courtesy of BMW

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