Goodbye, gas. We barely knew you. The world’s 125-year love affair with the internal combustion engine is on.
You can thank the environmentalists, Mother Nature, or simple progress, but even automakers are betting on an electrified future.
General Motors says it will stop making gasoline vehicles by 2035. Volvo plans to beat that by selling only electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030. Volkswagen has nearly 70 new electric models in development. . And Ford is spending $ 11.5 billion through 2022 on new electric vehicles.
BMW, the subject of this review, sold more than 500,000 electrified vehicles worldwide in 2019 and expects that number to more than double by the end of 2021. By 2030, BMW plans to sell 7 million – two-thirds of which will be entirely – electric variants.
For now, most of the electric horses in the BWM stable are plug-in hybrids. Hybrids and plug-in hybrids can be seen as a bridge to a fully electric future. They give car buyers the peace of mind that they can still run on gas, eliminating worries about range or charging times.
The main advantage of plug-in hybrids over their hybrid counterparts is that they can drive pure electric power without burning fuel. The main downside is that they cost more.
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The 2021 BMW 530e sedan reviewed here can travel around 20 miles on pure electric power, which is about average among all plug-in hybrid options.
Its base price of $ 58,195 (including destination charges) is $ 3,000 more than the all-gas 530i sedan.
Compared to the 530i, the 530e weighs over 500 pounds more thanks to the battery. It also has less storage in the trunk (10 cubic feet versus 14) because the battery pack is mounted in the rear. However, its location compensates for the engine’s weight up front, giving it a more even weight distribution than the 530i.
The 530e and 530i share the same 2.0-liter inline-4 turbo engine, but the boost provided by the 530e’s electric motor allows it to beat the 530i in 0-60 times by a bit: 5, 7 seconds against 5.9 seconds.
Both are beautiful sedans with clean lines. Other than the model badge, the only clue that these are different models is the 530e’s grille – a rather ugly take on BMW’s signature double-kidney face. It’s a solid slab of molded black plastic with dummy fins, no vents, and – at least on the tester – no chrome surrounds. This does not do justice to the brand’s iconic facade.
Inside, the 530e is positively chic, thanks to its optional ivory leather interior as well as luxury seats, M Sport and Premium packages, which together add $ 7,850 to base price. The front seats are fully adjustable and some functions – such as adjusting the width of the rear bolsters – can be linked to the driving mode so that they are set up automatically. The only downside is the textured rubberized material used on the top of the dashboard and window sills, which feel like hard plastic.
The first impression behind the wheel of the 530e is disappointing. Besides its superb handling, it looks like many hybrids, seamlessly switching between electric and gas and auto start to traffic lights.
Fortunately, you can change that behavior and make the 530e howl like the Ultimate Driving Machine should.
The eight-speed automatic transmission offers three driving modes: sport, hybrid and electric. The submenus for each are accessed through the infotainment system, and it’s worth looking for the Xtraboost mode. This makes this BMW drive like a BMW should. Power is instantaneous and plentiful offline, and the suspension tightens.
Rear seat legroom is reduced when the front seats are moved too far back, and the rear headroom is just enough for adults 5’9 “to 5’10”. There are plenty of front and rear cup holders in the doors and center consoles, but few lockers to store items.
The power trunk lid, which is part of the Premium package, is a nice touch. The bundle ($ 1,850) also gets you a head-up display, heated front seats, a Harmon Kardon audio system, and more.
Runflat tires eliminate the need for a spare tire, but are a bit noisy on the highway.
Standard security features are plentiful and more can be added, but the options can really add up. The base price of $ 58,195 climbed to $ 70,485 with the added features.
Model: BMW 530e 2021 plug-in hybrid, four-door, five-seat midsize sedan
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged in-line 4-cylinder and intercooler; integrated electric motor. Combined power: 288 hp and 257 lb-ft. couple; 9.1 kWh lithium-ion battery
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual shift mode; rear-wheel drive (all-wheel drive available for an additional $ 2300)
Total length: 16 feet 4 inches
Height: 4 feet 10 inches
Passenger volume / cargo: 99/10 cubic feet
Weight: 4308 pounds
Fuel consumption: 64 mpg (electricity and gasoline), 26 mpg (gasoline only); regular unleaded gasoline
EV range: 21 miles.
Base price including destination charges: $ 58,195
Price as tested: $ 70,485