The 530e was revealed earlier in the year and launched July in both saloon and touring formats. Offering emissions as low as 46g/km and fuel consumption of up to 138mpg, it still offered the potential for driving fun thanks to 292bhp and 310lb-ft via a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol engine and electric motor.
Much as BMW's four-cylinder engines are lovely things, the brand made its fame with silky smooth sixes. With the 545e xDrive, BMW is bringing PHEV efficiency and zero emissions capability to market with a 'six, and it gets a chunk more clout to go with it. In fact, it gets rather a lot more clout.
Under the bonnet the BMW 545e xDrive Saloon gets the brand's much-lauded 3.0-litre, TwinPower Turbo straight-six petrol engine. On its own, this is good for 282bhp but in the 545e it is helped along by a 107bhp electric motor bringing the total system power to a significant 389bhp – near as makes no difference 100bhp more than in the 530e. Torque is an equally significant 443lb-ft.
Power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, delivering a 0-62mph time of just 4.7 seconds and a top speed which is electronically limited to 155mph.
If you dial things back a bit and harness the power of the ELECTRIC driving mode, the 545e xDrive will travel up to 35 miles at up to 87mph. The 400V, 12kWh battery is mounted below the rear seats, eating a small amount of luggage space – though at 410 litres the 545e isn't lacking in space. Efficiency wise, the car delivers official emissions of 49g/km and fuel consumption as good as 112mpg.
As you'd expect, the BMW 545e xDrive Saloon has different driving modes which can be individualised depending on an owner's requirements. The default setting is HYBRID which favours the electric motor where possible, but brings the petrol engine into play where required. ELECTRIC mode can be made the default if desired.
Where a route is input into the car's navigation, the powertrain will use that data, as well as topography and live traffic updates, to maximise the efficiency of the drive. By pressing the HYBRID mode button twice, an even more efficiency-optimised mode, HYBRID ECO PRO, is engaged. However, if you want to throw efficiency out the window, SPORT mode unleashes the car's full power and speeds up gear changes.
An interesting and pretty cool feature BMW is now building into its PHEVs is BMW eDrive Zone which uses geo-ringfencing to automatically switch the car into ELECTRIC mode when entering a low-emissions zone or similar urban area.
The navigation utilises BMW's latest EV-specific data and therefore includes charging stations – including their status – as well as regular filling stations. When showing a charging station, the system will also show recommendations for nearby cafés or restaurants and allow BMW Charging customers to reserve a charging station enabled with the BMW Charging scheme for a period of time. Some 155,000 charging stations are included in the scheme across Europe.
Whilst it's a gimmick, BMW's link-up with composer Hans Zimmer (first announced in the iX3 EV), is present in the 545e xDrive thanks to a “ready to drive sound” composed by him. Even the low-speed sound produced by the car at up to 18.6mph is designed by Zimmer.
The 545e xDrive Saloon is just the latest in BMW's continuing push for electrification across the Group. It sold more than 500,000 electrified vehicles in 2019 and reckons that it will sell more than a million this year. By 2030, BMW aims to have sold more than seven million electrified vehicles with two thirds of these being pure EVs. Unlike some brands, for which the push is very much on to end up down the pure EV route sooner rather than later, BMW is pushing what it calls the “Power of Choice”, through which it is offering everything from 48-volt mild hybrids through to pure EVs and even fuel cell electric vehicles.
Of course, in due course, BMW will find itself unable to sell new petrol or diesel cars in some markets, but with efficiencies made across its model range, it hopes to cut emissions of BMW Group vehicles by 40 per cent per kilometre driven by 2030.
The car will start rolling off the BMW production lines in November this year, so don't expect it to make these shores until early 2021. Prices should begin somewhere around the £55,000 mark, but if BMW's previous PHEV models are anything to go by, you'll be getting a lot of car for your money.