BMW 5 Series is Electric!

Plug-in hybrid 530e iPerformance joins lineup.

BMW makes the most of its 5 Series. There are sedans, wagons and fastbacks, the latter sounding decidedly sportier than a hatchback. There is all-wheel drive availability.

Categorized as a midsize, the 5 Series has been around since 1972. To signify that it is staying up with the times, one of the additions for 2018 is a plug-in hybrid, the 530e iPerformance. We drove one. Lucky us.

The 5 series exudes class on the exterior. Sure, the BMW badge on the hood stands out, but the sleekness of the sedan can’t be denied, either.

The engine for the 530e is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. By itself it turns out 180 horsepower and 255 lbs.-ft. of torque. The mating with a

111-horsepower electric motor brings total output to 248 horsepower and 310 lbs.-ft. of torque. The car is so smooth and handles so well that it seems like more. Paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, the 530e blissfully rises to speed on the highway and gives an unflinching performance around town. Paddle shifters are present but rarely needed.

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Backpedaling about the electric motor. It can be fully charged via a 120-volt outlet in seven hours. A better option if charging is going to be part of your normal prep would be a 240-volt source that will reduce charging time to three hours. The payoff is at the pump with mileage soaring to 72 mpg with gas and electric combo. Using gas only still averages out to 29 mpg, according to the EPA.

With a base price of just north of $50K, the 530e iPerformance starts off with the same sticker as the gas-only 530i. Each has a vey of standard features, such as 18-inch alloy wheels and runlet tires, 16-way power front seats, moonroof, and navigation system. About that. There is a 10.2-inch touchscreen that can be operated with voice commands. Also standard are adaptive LED headlights and LED foglights.

There were conflicting opinions of cabin comfort during a roundtrip from Central Indiana to northeast Ohio. The long-legged front-seat riders had all the room they needed but were divided on the softness of the seat cushion, which speaking for my seat, was on the thinner side. Both agreed that the side bolsters provided the right amount of snugness. The shorter back-seat passenger was surprised to find her feet needed to slide under front seat. On the plus side was the ability to separately control the climate.

There is plenty of trunk space at 18.7 cubic feet. The hybrid’s battery pack fits under the seat and thus does not lessen cargo space from the standard sedan. One of the features on our tester’s Premium Package was a power tailgate for hands-free opening. Adding more potential is a 40/20/40 split/folding rear.

BMW might not need to raise its name recognition but the introduction of a hybrid version to the 5 Series will keep it at the forefront of plenty of conversations.

David Mikesell is a free-lance automotive reviewer based in Indianapolis.

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