The BMW 5 Series will gain a plug-in hybrid model in March with the launch of the £43,985 530e.
Described by its makers as completing the 5 Series range, the newcomer has also been dubbed the most efficient version of the car yet – official CO2 emissions figures will be just 46g/km alongside combined cycle fuel economy of more than 141mpg.
The BMW 530e combines the typical 2-litre petrol engine of 184hp with a 95hp electric motor for a combined output of 252hp alongside 420Nm of torque. It produces a 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds and can go on to 146mph.
BMW claims that the car can clock up almost 400 miles on one tank of fuel, and can also cover up to 29 miles on electric power alone at speeds of up to 87mph.
The powertrain remains rear-wheel-drive, the electric motor placed between the engine and the eight-speed Steptronic auto transmission, making use of the gearboxes ratios and negating the need for a weight-adding torque converter.
The lithium-ion battery pack is mounted under the rear seat, ensuring that the car can still offer a 410-litre boot volume with a flat floor. Charging of the battery takes five hours from a domestic socket or under three hours using the 3.7kW BMW I wallbox.
Added to the cockpit controls is eDrive, a button alongside the Driving Experience Control switch, with its Sport, Comfort and Eco Pro settings. The eDrive adds three more driving modes: Auto eDrive, Max eDrive and Battery Control.
In the Auto mode, which is the default setting, the engine and electric motor work together for the best efficiency in all driving situations – the all-electric top speed in this mode is 56mph.
The Max Mode allows the BMW 530e to drive on electric power alone, and makes available the 87mph maximum speed. However, kicking down on the accelerator pedal will cause the engine to cut in, such as when needing extra pace for overtaking.
Battery Control mode lets the driver set the charge level for the high-voltage battery manually, between 30 and 100 per cent of maximum charge, allowing that proportion of the battery’s capacity to be reserved for all-electric driving at a later point in the journey.
The battery management system either keeps the battery’s charge constant at the selected level or increases it to the pre-set value, with the electric motor acting as a generator. As a result it is it possible to conserve or even increase the electric power available, for example while travelling on the motorway, to ensure that later on the car can be driven on zero emissions through for example an urban area.
Visually the BMW 530e can be distinguished from its sister models by blue slates on the kidney grille, blue wheel hub covers, the charging socket located between the front wheel arch and the A-pillar on the driver’s side and ‘eDrive’ emblems on the rear screen. On the inside the illuminated sill panels bear eDrive lettering.