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The BMW 530e’s powertrain is comprised of a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, an electric motor located between the gas engine and the standard eight-speed automatic transmission, and a 9.1-kWh battery pack hidden under the rear seat.
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For 2021, the 530e’s battery capacity is increased by 25 percent, and minor revisions have been made to both the gas engine and electric motor. Total combined system power is up from 248 horsepower to 288. Torque remains at 310 pound-feet. The EPA’s electric range estimate is 21 miles, up from 16 miles before.
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The 2021 530e’s 40-hp increase over the previous model comes from the new XtraBoost feature. Flooring the throttle sends a burst of energy to the electric motor, adding 40 horsepower for up to 10 seconds at a time.
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The 530e’s additional power feels good on the road and shows up in our instrumented testing. In rear-wheel-drive form, the 2021 model’s 5.2-second 60-mph run is 0.8 second quicker than that of the 2018 530e xDrive model that we previously tested.
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BMW has refined the operation of its hybrid system to the point that the gas engine and electric motor coordinate their actions seamlessly. Acceleration is smooth, the eight-speed automatic’s shifts go largely unnoticed, and turbocharger lag is virtually absent.
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The 530e plug-in hybrid comes standard with rear-wheel drive, but xDrive all-wheel drive can be added for $2300.
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To bring out the 530e’s sporty side, you’ll need to specify the $2500 M Sport package, which includes a tauter suspension with a 10-millimeter lower ride height and 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 ZP summer tires. M Sport brakes are a separate $650 option and are good idea as well.
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The 530e’s luxurious interior is conservatively styled and beautifully crafted, though not as thoroughly equipped as you’d expect at this price point. Things like leather seats and rear seat heaters are optional. For 2021, the center touchscreen has been enlarged from 10.3 inches to 12.3 inches.
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BMW’s iDrive 7 infotainment system is comprehensive and complex. It includes the ability to control some audio functions with hand gestures. One of our front-seat passengers inadvertently turned on the radio during a conversation while jabbing the air to emphasize a point.
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In general city driving, the 530e has little trouble delivering on its EPA-estimated electric range of 21 miles per charge. On our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test, our test car matched its EPA rating of 64 MPGe.