BMW has impressive 2018 plug-in hybrid for 5 Series sedan

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The remarkable new plug-in hybrid powertrain now being offered in the 2018 BMW 5 Series iPerformance sedan is not your typical restrained gas-electric variant. Unlike most other hybrid vehicles, the 530e and 530e xDrive (all-wheel drive) sedans are equally as fast from 0-60 mph as their non-hybrid all-gas 530i counterparts.

E-SPEED

Both the non-hybrid 530i and plug-in hybrid 530e accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 6.0 seconds. Opting for BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system for hybrid and non-hybrid models shaves an additional 0.2 seconds off its time.

Usually, there is a significant price premium when choosing a hybrid powertrain over a non-hybrid powertrain. Not so with the 2018 BMW 5 Series. Surprisingly, there is no difference in sticker price. Both the 530i and 530e are priced at $52,400. Opting for xDrive adds another $2,300 to the price.

CHARGE CONVENIENCE

Factor in the federal government’s $4,668 tax credit for the new 530e and it becomes significantly less expensive than its non-hybrid 530i counterpart. Additionally, you will incur less fuel costs with the 530e. When utilizing the 530e for commuting, you can travel up to 16 miles in full electric mode between charges.

Using a 120-volt outlet, it takes less than seven hours to fully charge 530e’s battery pack. Using a 240-volt connection drops the charging time down to less than three hours.

Once you have used up all of 530e’s battery power and are driving in gasoline-only mode, it is rated for a combined 29 mpg, which is still two mpg better than its non-hybrid 530i counterpart.

The rub, though, is that 530e models have a 4.2 cu. ft. smaller cargo volume than non-hybrid models, and the 530e offers a lower driving range due to its 12.1-gallon fuel tank, versus an 18-gallon tank in non-hybrid versions. The 530e is also 520-lbs. heavier than its non-hybrid counterpart, but it still delivers pleasingly sporty and luxurious driving performance.

DRIVE DYNAMICS

Different driving dynamic modes (Sport, Comfort, Eco Pro) let the driver tailor the ride to their liking. Plus, various eDriving modes (Auto eDrive, Max eDrive, Battery Control) let the driver make the most of the 530e’s high-voltage battery pack and hi-torque electric motor.

The 530e’s gasoline engine is a detuned (180-horsepower) version of the same 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged four-cylinder engine utilized in the non-hybrid 248-horsepower 530i. But, add in 530e’s electric motor and its combined output is the same 248-horsepower. Plus, the 530e offers more combined torque (310 lb.-ft.) than the 530i (248 lb.-ft.).

In full-electric mode, the 530e accelerates smoothly and swiftly. The transitions between full-electric mode and gas-electric mode are very smooth and almost imperceptible. I found the 530e to be a remarkably pleasing drive.

CABIN COMFORT

Other than a slight hint of four-cylinder engine noise when cold (disappears when warm), very little engine or road noise permeates the cabin. As you would expect at this level, the 530e features a nicely styled and well-crafted cockpit that includes many standard and available amenities and advanced technologies.

Like other 5 Series sedans, the 530e nicely accommodates a family of five or four adults. The 530e also includes an auxiliary heating and air conditioning system that can be programmed to pre-condition the interior to your comfort level prior to your arrival.

The 2018 BMW 530e becomes the new entry point for the 5 Series sedan and it delivers remarkable driving dynamics along with impressive fuel efficiency.

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