Testing out the electrified BMW iPerformance line-up

By JAY WONG | 21 June 2018

A outstation journey with BMW Group Malaysia’s range of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles included the 330e (F30), 530e (G30), 740Le xDrive (G12) and a X5 xDrive40e (F15) is certainly something to look forward to.

The drive to Ipoh, Perak started from KLPAC and after dealing with some mid-morning traffic, while in pure electric mode, we soon found ourselves at the toll gates and edging to get out onto the highway for a relaxing cruise.

This was soon followed by a detour onto tighter, rougher and windier roads which we (motoring journalists) tend to become heavy footed when faced with opportunities to test the vehicles’ performance.

BMW iPerformance Drive - 01
The experience began with an accommodating 530e, which we decided to keep at highway speed limits while in Max eDrive mode.

This meant that we could squeeze out as much electrical ‘juice’ from the 9.5kWh lithium-ion battery for one single purpose - to maximise travel time in an eerily quiet cabin with nothing but some momentary gusts of wind brushing up against the glass.

The 530e’s size might suggest some heft, but the experience in electric mode was of contradiction with a firm pickup from standstill as it effortlessly wafts up to cruising speeds where both my co-driver and I soaked up the silence.

BMW iPerformance Drive - 10
As simple as it may seem, this executive saloon is nothing but a well-behaved cruiser out on the highway, but present it with tighter twists and turns and it’ll gladly and proudly show off its handling prowess.

Pitch and roll are very well taken care of and the brakes remain continuously potent after some abuse.

Moving into the smaller confines of the 330e and the feeling of relaxed comfort from the 530e is replaced by a certain need to ‘play’ that quickly takes us over, albeit both vehicles have the same system output of 250hp and 420Nm of torque.

BMW iPerformance Drive - 08
The nimbleness of the 330e is slightly more pronounced than its larger 530e and this shows when going around fast corners.

As for the X5 xDrive40e, aside from the commanding view, it isn’t going propose as much road-holding performance as its 3 and 5 Series siblings, but it will leave an imprint on the back seat once the throttle reaches the floor.

The X5’s 313hp and 450Nm system output is punchy and willing to deliver at a moment’s notice, but the suspension still exhibits some bounce to it when traversing over uneven sections of highway.

BMW iPerformance Drive - 34
There’s also a touch of ‘chop’ around bends and while pitch and roll is evident it thankfully isn’t very predominant.

Luckily, acclimatising to how it rides can take a short period of time to do so.

Moving up the scale to the long wheelbase of the all-wheel driven 740Le and many would begin to scoff at its meagre offerings of a 2.0-litre turbocharged mill that’s combined with an electric motor.

Regardless of what lies under the hood (and boot), the drive will simply surprise the senses thanks to a systems output of 322hp and 500Nm of torque.

BMW iPerformance Drive - 30
The suspension in comfort mode has plenty of capacity to soak up blemished roads and cabin simply feels ‘uber’ insulated from noise, vibration and harshness.

The vehicles experienced were consistent in one aspect - they’re dynamic straight out of the box and are ready to be belted through snaking routes.

The power is as well-balanced as their handling characteristics despite them having a tickle more weight at the rear.

But if ever we were forced to pick one out of the litter, there wouldn’t be any hesitation in jumping straight into the stretched flagship model from Munich for its plush and comfortable rear cabin as well as its handling characteristics.