BMW 530e long-term test: report 5

Following a recent facelift, the plug-in hybrid BMW 530e promises punchy performance and a longer electric range. We're living with one to see if it delivers...

LT BMW 530e - child being lifted out of rear seat

The car BMW 530e M Sport Run by Steve Huntingford, editor

Why it’s here We want to know if this luxurious saloon really gives buyers the best of both worlds

Needs to Combine outstanding comfort and refinement with strong performance and good real-world fuel economy

Mileage 2280 List price £52,325 Target Price £44,583 Price as tested £59,080 Test economy 76.4mpg Official economy 156.9-201.8mpg

24 March – Clean machine

I can clearly remember the first time I started to think about air quality in our cities, because it was only a couple of years ago. I was walking the two minutes to my local convenience store, which is opposite a set of traffic lights, so frequently has a bus or two chugging away stationary outside. However, I’d never been concerned by that before.

The difference on this occasion was that I had my daughter – who’d just started walking – beside me, and I suddenly became very aware that the exhausts were about the same height from the ground as her face.

Bus outside convenience store

It’s why hybrids like my BMW 530e now have such huge appeal. Yes, most conventional modern cars have stop-start systems, which switch off their engines when you’re stationary. But given the interminable amount of time you can spend waiting for a green light in London, the engine often has to restart before it’s time to move on.

And, of course, the bonus with a plug-in hybrid like the 530e is that you can continue to use electric power and emit zero emissions on those rare occasions when you are moving faster than pedestrians, while still having an engine in reserve for longer, faster drives.

LT BMW 530e power flow readout

I’ve got used to relying exclusively on petrol power on the motorway, so that there’s plenty of energy in the battery when I reach a built-up area. And helpfully, if you’ve had to use quite a lot of battery power at the start of your journey – or just haven’t had the opportunity to plug in recently – you can charge the battery off the engine. No, this isn’t great for efficiency, but it’s nice to have the option.

Likewise, I appreciate being able to drive my daughter to her school without having to worry about what’s coming out of my exhaust as I pass other pupils and their parents. In short, if a fully electric car doesn’t fit into your lifestyle, there’s a great alternative. It’s just a pity that politicians no longer recognise that, having scrapped the grant for plug-in hybrids back in 2018.

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