Should the 530e PHEV be able to wear an M Sport badge? Abso-bloody-lutely
ANYONE who’s bought a BMW and picked up their new pride and joy from a dealership knows the experience does not begin at ignition.
It starts from the point you set foot into the building. It was the same when we collected the 2021 BMW 530e LCI M Sport.
As you wait for your car to arrive, warm and friendly staff welcome you at, in our case, BMW Sydney like you’re their favourite guest, and this is your favourite 5-star resort, surrounded by beautiful models (or in this case, cars).
You are then seated, and an order of your favourite coffee is made by a barista. Your host is ever so eager to get your car to you, and his vibe is contagious. With a warm sip of freshly brewed mocha, the excitement builds as your anticipation grows.
Finally, the keys arrive, and you’re ushered to your car. Behold, the 2021 varietal is there in all her glory. The nice gentleman hands over the keys, winks and says ”you have fun, alright?” You betcha pal!
The 2021 BMW 530e LCI M Sport PHEV exudes class and confidence. You’d feel important just standing next to it. Sleek contours shape the bonnet, as it meets the grille. Get up close and you’ll notice a lack of vents, unlike the traditional open BMW grille style.
Headlights are sleek, and technology such as the forward facing camera and radar sensors are tastefully built-in to the front end. There are lovely 19-inch alloy wheels, which surprisingly suit the size of the car, to check out as well.
The rear, while being somewhat plain, does finish off this vehicle quite nicely, in an almost sporty but mostly classy kind of way. The lights don’t look as flash, and the rear camera juts out from beneath the trunk latch, almost like it was an afterthought.
Twin exhausts offer a nice finish, especially when you consider this car is a hybrid and sometimes just cruises on battery juice. Before we hop on inside though, we should point out, that true to BMW form, there are many exterior colours to choose for your 530e.
These include Alpine White, Black Sapphire, Sophisto Grey Brilliant Effect, Phytonic Blue, Bluestone, Bernina Grey Amber Effect, Carbon Black, Tanzanite Blue Metallic, Alvite Grey Metallic, Aventurine Red Metallic, and Brilliant White Metallic.
But you can also have Frozen Brilliant White Metallic, Pure Metal Silver, Frozen Cashmere Silver Metallic, and Frozen Dark Silver Metallic. Frozen colours are essentially matte finishes.
Jumping into the driver’s seat, you’ll find yourself in a luxurious, spacious, palatial spaceship, or at least that’s what it feels like.
You’re sitting on fully adjustable ‘Dakota’ leather sports seats, which can be configured to warm up automatically when the outside temp falls to a certain temperature. Definitely handy considering we’re in winter.
It was so cosy driving in the 530e that we were almost looking for a reason, actually any reason at all, to go for spin. Silence greets you as you ‘start’ the car, with battery power on hand to get you motoring. In a nice touch, there’s actually noise when you start it.
Just ahead of the steering wheel is the beautiful BMW Live Cockpit Professional, with a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, and to the left of that, a generous, similarly sized infotainment system, with wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity.
If you have a phone that supports wireless charging, there’s a spot to pop it in. We trialed the iPhone 12 Pro and it fit perfectly, which means most larger phones should fit too. There’s also one USB-A port and three USB-C connections.
On one of our cruises down to La Perouse (near Sydney Airport for the non-locals), we tested BMW’s updated navigation and can confirm, it works a treat. Directions show up in the head-up display, allowing you to keep your eyes on the road as well.
The instrument cluster provides similar instructions if you’re wearing polarised sunnies and can’t see the HUD, and you can also use your maps through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (which will display in the relevant locations).
Active cruise control in the BMW 530e is something else. Once activated, the dash displays a depiction of what it’s sensing in front of you and around you. If there’s a truck next to you, it’ll show up as such.
This level of sensory perception allows the car to make an assessment whether it needs to slow or not. It also picks up when the surrounding cars are changing lanes. All this information helps the car assist you drive too, if activated.
Cruising down the M5 Motorway was quite pleasurable and like floating on air, with driver assist and active cruise control engaged. There was literally minimal interaction required and you simply needed to keep your hands on the steering wheel.
The 2021 BMW 530e LCI M Sport PHEV will do the rest, moving the steering wheel to follow the road and keep you in your lane. If it gets too complicated or the lines aren’t clear on the road, lights on the steering wheel flash to tell you it’s your turn to steer.
Being a hybrid, the 2021 BMW 530e is powered by a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder motor, which can also charge your battery when in use. Power transfers through an 8-speed automatic gearbox, and the battery holds up to 12KWh.
When paired, the combination (using Xtraboost) offers 215kW and 250Nm. Standard driving should see the 530e deliver exceptional fuel economy figures, according to BMW, of just 2.3-litres/100km.
We gave Xtraboost a whirl, because we promised BMW Sydney we’d have fun after all, and its surprising what a difference it makes at launch. You’re thrown back into your seat, and the car lurches forward with battery and engine coming together with a roar.
It’s capable of 0-100km in 5.9 seconds. That surge in power will chew through battery charge pretty quickly though, and even though the car will charge while driving, it’s hard to keep plenty of juice in the battery.
You’ll find yourself on a quest for a power source when you arrive at your destination, should you wish to leverage its full economic benefits, which will have to come in the form of a charge station, or a local power point (if there’s one nearby).
If you find one, the car kit can be dragged out of the boot and plugged in. On a standard socket, you’re looking at about nine hours to fully charge from dead flat (or at least that was our experience). Luckily you can simply run the 530e as a petrol car.
An abundance of safety technology is included in the hybrid BMW, including dynamic stability control, ABS, brake assist, cornering brake control, traction control, cross traffic warning on the front, steering and lane control assist and lane keep assist.
The latter has side collision warning and a crossroads warning, with braking functionality, while there’s also automatic speed limit assist and an evasion aid. Front and rear leg room is excellent, and there’s ample storage in the boot too.
The 2021 BMW 530e is an absolute pleasure to drive, bristling with technology. It’s spacious and luxurious, and there’s more than enough room for the family. You can have your very own for $135,000 plus on roads.
This story was originally published on Exhaust Notes Australia, and written by Sabih Dean. All pricing within this story is based on Australian Dollar (AUD).