2017 BMW 530e iPerformance First Drive

The 530e iPerformance plugin hybrid is the sixth such model launched by BMW (if you count the currently China-only X1 25e) and it’s part of the company’s push to becoming the biggest seller of electric and part-electric cars in the world. The idea of the iPerformance badge (which confusingly doesn’t actually appear on the car — there’s an eDrive badge on the rear pillar instead) is to be to BMW’s i-car range what the M Performance brand is to full-on M cars. So this is electric, but not fully electric.

2017 BMW 530e iPerformance First Drive
2017 BMW 530e iPerformance First Drive

You can just about tell it apart from other versions of the 5 Series by the small wheels (which do look a touch lost in the arches) and the blue highlights in the radiator grille and around the badges. The extra flap for the charging socket, behind the left front wheelarch, is also a giveaway.

BMW is deadly serious about the sales prospect for this car. So far, 130,000 electric or part-electric BMWs have been sold, worldwide. The 530e is expected to push that figure up to 100,000 this year alone. With diesel-phobia setting in, it just might manage that.

First impressions

You can rightly think of the 530e as the bigger brother to the existing 330e and it uses effectively the same drivetrain. It is propelled by a 184hp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, combined with a 95hp electric motor for a combined system total of 252hp, or about the same as provided by the petrol-only 530i. The official economy and emissions figures are fantastic, in the literal sense o...