Review: BMW 530e – Fifty and Fabulous
Fifty years ago a litre of petrol cost twenty-five cents and Gough Whitlam had just taken over as Prime Minister in Australia. Meanwhile, in Germany, BMW had just launched the 5 Series at a time when Executive Class cars were making their mark as the world emerged from the dreary 50s and 60s interpretations of what a family sedan looked and drove like.
The BMW 5 series was a revelation, it had style, it had performance, it had comfort and above all else it wasn’t a big V8. Yes, the BMW 5 series also came with a price tag that was more than double that of the locally produced luxury sedans on offer from Holden and Ford at the time. In terms of what Australians wanted out of a luxury car in 1972 the BMW 5 series simply didn’t stack up against the locally produced alternatives.
As the sands of time moved from decade to decade, it would be the 5 Series that ultimately became the right car at the right time for people looking for a mid-sized well-appointed sedan that could take some Australian road punishment and come back for more. You’ve only got to look at some of our Police Forces where the 5 Series is now the Highway Patrol pursuit car of choice as the heavy and thirsty alternatives fell by the wayside.
Today, in 2022, as the seventh act in the mesmerising performance of the 5 Series prepares to close, the BMW 530e gives a very clear view as to where the next generation of 5 Series is going to take us. It’s a hybrid world.
The BMW 530e is like a vortex of space and time. Where yesterday and tomorrow meet. It looks and drives like any 5 Series with an in-line 4 cylinder 2-litre turbocharged engine so it’s highly efficient and competent around town, and then BMW has mated that wonderful powerplant to a 12kWh lithium-ion battery providing an additional 54km range and 80kW of power giving the 530e a total of 215kW of power and 420Nm of torque.
The 530e comes standard with a 5m long Mode 3 Type 2 charging cable meaning you’re never far from a top-up thanks to Thomas Edison. Find the right type of power and you can charge the battery in the 530e to 80% in a little over 2.5 hours. Give it another hour and you’ll be at 100%.
All the driving dynamics of today are there – the perfect 50/50 weight distribution, the 20-inch M Light Alloy Wheels, the M Sport brakes, the 8-speed automatic transmission, and the Adaptive Suspension which all combine to give the 530e a 0-100km/h time of 5.9sec. And would you just look at that stunning Bernina Grey Amber Effect metallic paintwork.
Then there are the features of tomorrow – the colour Head-Up Display, the wireless phone charging with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, the incredible BMW Laser headlights (that have to be seen to be believed!), and the bone-shaking Harman/Kardon surround-sound audio system, with 16 loudspeakers.
The latest 5 Series is (naturally) the best yet, and it has the technology to back up its status. It’s a little larger than before, with a longer wheelbase for improved ride quality and a little more rear legroom. The interior is plush thanks to the gorgeous black Nappa leather seats and the addition of dynamic lighting and the Fineline Ridge timber and chrome highlights this lovely sedan feels a bit more upmarket at just the right time. The 530e is also home to BMW’s latest generation of iDrive infotainment system, which is better than ever and easy to use on the move thanks to BMW’s 12.3inch touch-sensitive LCD screen.
The 530e is also extremely well priced in this segment. Our car was $131,990 drive-away as tested. That’s including all the toys and the super-efficient engine and electric motor combination. In terms of fuel economy, we saw an average of 9.0l/100km around town where almost exactly half of the kilometres we travelled were in eDrive mode. Had we been able to travel further afield, that number would likely start with a 4 or a 5.
I’m one of the biggest BMW fans there is and there is a part of me that will be sad to see this seventh generation 5 Series head off into the sunset in a year or so. It’s such a mainstay of the BMW range and of course, that encompasses the mighty M5 but thanks to the 530e, the future is clear. The PHEV and EV world is here to stay and roads everywhere will be better for it.