It was only a matter of time before the 5 Series was geared up to nip at Tesla's heels.
BMW has been wagging its finger at everybody lately telling the public an armada of electric vehicles is coming. Laugh if you want but the automaker has only grinned back saying "just you wait." Well, in the famous words of Lil Wayne, "it ain't trickin' if you got it," and as BMW has recently shown the world with its 330e iPerformance, 740e iPerformance, and X5 xDrive40e iPerformance, it sure has it. Aside from the rest of its SUV lineup, the only thing BMW was missing to drive the point home was an iPerformance 5 Series.
Well, on that note you can now welcome the 530e iPerformance to this weird wacky era of attempting to ween customers off of the gas pump and onto the voltmeter using plug-in hybrids. BMW hasn't announced pricing of the 530e iPerformance, but if it follows the price increase of its plug-in siblings, buyers will be able to write a check starting at the low $60,000 mark to get the experience of owning an electric car without the associated range anxiety. The electrified 5er is available in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive for the first time in iPerformance history. Motivating the G30-based sedan is a 95-horsepower electric motor that's connected to a 9.2 kWh battery stowed under the rear seats.
This shoves the car forward either by itself or with the help of a 2.0-liter inline-four gasoline engine that makes 180 hp. One clever engineer placed the electric motor ahead of the transmission, allowing that torque to be manipulated by the eight-speed Steptronic gearbox and eliminating the need for a heavy torque converter. When the throttle is mashed at a standstill the two power plants work in conjunction to rocket the sedan from 0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds. As with nearly all BMWs, most aspects of the powertrain are variable. One set of selectable modes is the familiar Driving Dynamics Control switch, which houses Sport, Comfort, and Eco Pro modes.
A separate control dubbed the eDrive button accesses the electric drive controls including Auto eDrive, Max eDrive, and Battery Control. The first of those modes keeps the engine and battery working together as you'd expect in any hybrid, never letting the battery get too low but allowing for all-electric travel at speeds of up to 56 mph. Next up is Max eDrive, which is for the committed environmentalist that plans their trips around the electric socket. This setting uses up the battery's juice and allows for an all-electric speed limit of 87 mph. The final mode allows said environmentalist to manually set the charge level for the battery and use the electric motor as a generator.
The idea here is to allow the driver to tailor the interaction between the battery and gasoline engine to keep it charged on the highway and save the energy for when arriving into a dense city where electric power is optimal. If the 530e iPerformance hits traffic along the way, then BMW's latest suite of semi-autonomous drive features will come in handy, specifically Traffic Jam Assist, which uses the radar to come to a complete stop behind the car in front and begin moving again once traffic picks back up. BMW's suite of autonomous systems consists of Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Detection, Side Collision Avoidance, and Adaptive Cruise Control, which works at speeds up to 130 mph.
Combined, these features ensure that owners get a taste for the autonomous car life in addition to EV ownership in order to really gear them up for the future. If this sort of ownership experience floats your boat, then be on the lookout for the 530e iPerformance at BMW dealerships come next spring.