Cleaner, meaner variants broaden 5 Series appeal
The all-new 5 Series has only just launched, but BMW has already decided to expand the lineup with two new models. The company has announced the new 530i ePerformance plug-in hybrid, along with the new range-topping M550i xDrive, which is a regular 5 Series with enough grunt to make M5 owners nervous.
Petrol power in the 530e iPerformance plug-in hybrid is provided by turbocharged four cylinder engine making 180 hp (134 kW), while electric power comes from a 95 hp (71 kW) motor drawing on a 9.2 kWh battery mounted under the rear seats. Charging takes seven hours using a regular wall socket, but most owners are likely to stump for a fast charger, dropping the charge time to a more palatable three hours.
Owners are able to switch between three different drive modes from the cabin, each of which changes the way power is delivered. Auto eDrive automatically decides how much electric or petrol power the car should be providing, while Max eDrive cuts out the petrol engine completely. The car will run up to 87 mph (140 km/h) with no petrol intervention, and maximum range is 45 km (28 mi) in ideal conditions with Max eDrive selected.
Finally, Battery Control lets the driver specify how much charge the battery should have, and the car will either charge it up using the petrol engine or stop the electric motor from intervening when it's been depleted to a certain level. That means you can use the petrol engine on the highway, and then choose to use e-power where it's most effective – in cities or urban areas where the speed limit is low.
At the other end of the 5 Series spectrum sits the M550i xDrive. Even though it's not quite a full M Division car, it can embarrass owners of the current F50 M5 in a straight line, thanks to its turbocharged 4.4-liter V8. With 456 hp (340 kW) of power and 651 Nm (480 lb.ft) of torque on tap, it'll hustle to 60 mph (98 km/h) in less than four seconds, and keep pulling hard all the way to the 250 km/h (155 mph) limit. Power is put to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox with ratios tuned by M Performance.
On the outside, the only real difference between the M550i and less exciting variants is a set of unique wheels and some extra chrome trim on the air intakes. Some people won't like the fact it's so subtle, but we think there's something appealing about the fact it doesn't shout about its performance. It's a similar story with the 530e – eco tires aside, it could be any other 5 Series from a distance.
As you'd expect, the full range of semi-autonomous driver aids from the rest of the range are available on both the 550i and the 530e. With the right option boxes ticked, the car will take care of steering, throttle and brakes up to 210 km/h (130 mph), matching the systems in the Mercedes E-Class. It'll also help drivers swerve to avoid obstacles, keep them in their lanes and park itself.
The cabins of the 5 Series additions are largely unchanged, too. Both cars come with an iDrive infotainment system as standard, and both can be specced with wireless Apple CarPlay. Although it's all neatly laid out and built to a high standard, the interior design does lack the flair of the E-Class or Volvo S90, but that seems appropriate given the subtle nature of the exterior design.
BMW hasn't announced pricing for either car, but both cars will go on sale in Q2 of 2017.