Drive a diesel car in London? Monster! Recent emissions revelations have turned you into an outcast. It doesn’t matter that you quite like your powerful diesel BMW 5 Series, and you’re not going to buy a bloody Prius – so what can you do?
Right on cue, BMW has launched a plug-in hybrid version of its astonishingly capable new 5 Series, called 530e iPerformance. The name’s a mouthful – we’ll stick with 530e – but the figures are jaw-dropping: more than 140 mpg, 46g/km CO2 and NOx emissions so minuscule, they don’t even come into it.
And, as if it couldn’t get any better, the government will give you £2,500 if you buy one, taking it down below £30k – not far shy of the best-selling BMW 520d.
BMW took us to its spotless and very Germanic Munich garage for a trial drive. While BMW’s reps were light on the details, we did learnt that the car, is in essence a 2.0-litre turbo petrol 5 Series hooked up with a BMW i3 electric motor and a battery with enough juice to do 31 miles on electric power only.
Once the battery is flat, the engine kicks in, as it does in the plug-in hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. There are several driving modes to give you different styles of eco-ness, including one that will fully charge the battery on the move. BMW’s done this with potential future city centre legislation in mind – if combustion engines are banned from certain areas, the 530e will still be allowed in.
Sensibly, you’ll just leave it in auto, and let the system work out what’s best. I did this and found the engine was off more than it was on, allowing me to cruise through Munich in silent, futuristic electric-assist serenity. It’s nothing like having a grunty old diesel clattering away: even a posh V8 5 Series isn’t this silent. And 0-62mph in 6.2secs is pretty fast, too; it’s a Tesla experience in an executive BMW.
Read more: City A.M