Many car manufacturers see electric as the future of the automotive industry; BMW’s among the leaders. Their splendid new plug-in electric hybrid, the 2018 530e xDrive is the 5-series’ first foray into the company’s iPerformance portfolio.
My family enjoyed one during the recent holidays, which were abnormally cold. It’s impossible to describe how cold without swearing. In the early days of hybrid vehicles, such cold snaps could prove troublesome. No machine likes -30 degree weather. Electric systems hate it.
Indeed, many famous lines that were extended into hybridity — that is – power supplied by both a gasoline engine a battery-powered electric motor — produced a compromise because the existing vehicle was adapted to accommodate the newer extra power source. They could lose space and, as important for the spirited driver, performance if the systems didn’t unite well.
Not so the 530e. The biting weather wasn’t an issue. And any worries that hybrid equals compromised performance were assuaged with a gentle tap on the accelerator. This adaptation was carefully planned.
The 2.0 litre 4-cylinder twin-turbo engine is efficient enough to put out 180 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. But pair that with the electric motor’s peak of 111 hp and 184 lb-ft and you have a system that generates a satisfying 248 hp and whopping 310 lb-ft. Moreover, both systems send power to all four wheels (xDrive is BMW speak for all-wheel drive).
Some of the handicap from the additional weight that the extra drive system imposes has been redeemed. The upstream placement of the electric motor from the transmission eliminated the need for a torque converter.
Bottom line? 0 to 100kph in 6.1 seconds. Hybrid does not mean compromise.
And remember that point about adapting to accommodate the second system? The 530e’s battery pack of lithium-ion cells are neatly tucked beneath the rear seat, leaving the spacious trunk, well, spacious. We didn’t do the golf club test but luggage and snowshoes for four still plenty of left room for groceries and New Year’s booze.
You can adjust the quality of the drive to your preference in the moment: comfort, sport and eco. Meanwhile, the iPerformance line’s eDrive button allows you to further customize how electric you want to be and when. (It gets technical and we have a word count.)
Speaking of the bottom line, several provinces offer serious rebates.
Depending on where you live, rebates range from square deal to squat. Here in Ontario, the 530e xDrive gets the buyer an $8,460 return. That’s over 10% of the full pre-tax value on this loaner I drove. (It’s the same amount for a 3-year lease; $5,643 for a 2-year; and $2,817 for a 1). If you’re on the fence, you might want to decide quick. Interest rates are going up and the phrase “belt-tightening” has suddenly re-entered the 24/7 news lexicon lately — bigly. It’s an election year here in Ontario. So you can expect this door won’t be open much longer.
2018 BMW 530e xDrive MSRP: $66,900
Packages and optional upgrades: $15,850
As Driven: $82,750
By Steven Bochenek, 2017 AJAC Auto Journalist of the Year, runner-up