2024 BMW 530i xDrive Is A Perfect Example Of Why Electric Cars Are Great

2024 BMW 530i xDrive Is A Perfect Example Of Why Electric Cars Are Great

Having entered its eighth generation, the BMW 5 Series is all new for 2024, and for the first time, there are fully electric variants of the iconic sports sedan. While those electric i5 models are moving the 5 Series lineup into the future, the gas-powered 530i is quietly the most important model. After all, it’s the cheapest 5 Series you can buy, starting at $57,900 or $60,200 with xDrive all-wheel drive. Hey, you gotta start somewhere. It’s the type of car for folks who want the pedigree of a BMW sports sedan but want to save a few bucks in the process. I get it.

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That said, the entire time I was driving the 530i, I was just wishing I were in an i5.

Full Disclosure: BMW flew me down to Spartanburg, South Carolina, and paid for my hotel and food all for its “Test Fest” event where I got to sample just about everything BMW makes right now. The new 5 Series is one of those cars.

What A New 2024 5 Series Gets You

Photo: Andy Kalmowitz / Jalopnik

In a word, everything… kind of. The engines for the 530i and 540i are carry-over, but other than that, just about everything is new inside and out even if it’s hard to tell. The outside of the new G60 5 Series is definitely an evolution, not a revolution. That doesn’t mean it’s not a handsome car; it certainly is. I’d go so far as to say it could be the best-looking vehicle BMW currently sells – and I, unlike many folks, am a fan of BMW’s current design language. It’s got a classic big German sports sedan look, and it’s hard to mess that up if you’re only going to make little changes.

Some of those little changes include the 5 Series getting bigger in every dimension. It’s a little bit taller, a little bit wider and a little bit longer than the outgoing car, but because everything is scaled proportionally, it doesn’t look much bigger at a glance. The new 5 Series is instantly recognizable as a BMW, and it lacks a lot of the more, let’s say, controversial design elements so many of BMW’s current fleet of vehicles have. Honestly, it’s the NPC luxury sedan, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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A gray 2024 BMW 530i xDrive.

Photo: Andy Kalmowitz / Jalopnik

The inside of the new 5 Series is a very similar story. If you’re familiar with BMW interiors, then you’ll be right at home in this car. It’s all very logically laid out, and BMW’s latest iDrive 8.5 infotainment system is just about the best in the biz.

A gray 2024 BMW 530i xDrive.

Photo: Andy Kalmowitz / Jalopnik

Unfortunately, there’s plenty of piano black to welcome you when you step inside the very spacious cabin. If you can get past that, then you can appreciate the fact that a lot of the surfaces and switches feel rather premium. The iDrive control knob is a lovely glass circle and the gear shifter is a metal toggle unit. Little things like that nearly make up for some of the hard plastics around the window sills (where I, sadly, put my elbow most of the time).

The seats are both very adjustable and very comfortable. You can make them fit just about any body type with ease, and even with them in position for my 6’1” self, I could still sit fairly comfortably behind myself in the rear seats.

A gray 2024 BMW 530i xDrive.

Photo: Andy Kalmowitz / Jalopnik

It’s not a cabin that is going to inspire you in any real way, but it’s certainly a pleasant place to be, just like the 5 Series of years gone by. However, BMW does try to inspire you with its dash-spanning ambient light bar that changes color either manually or depending on the drive mode you’re in, but when it’s off it just sort of looks like black plastic. A real shame.

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Even when equipped with the M Sport package like the tester I drove, the interior definitely feels more luxury-oriented than sporty, but that’s sort of the mantra of the 5 Series these days.

Driving The 2024 BMW 5 Series

A gray 2024 BMW 530i xDrive.

Photo: Andy Kalmowitz / Jalopnik

Continuing on that subject, if you are looking for the sporty driving characteristics of a BMW 5 Series of years gone by, this is not going to be the car for you. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise – the regular 5 hasn’t been particularly sporty in a few generations at this point, erring more on the side of luxuriousness than sportiness. That’s all to say that driving the new 5 Series is an isolated experience… for the most part.

A gray 2024 BMW 530i xDrive.

Photo: Andy Kalmowitz / Jalopnik

The “most part” includes stuff like the ride quality and steering feel. The 530i rode exceptionally smoothly over some pretty shitty surfaces I found in the more rural areas of South Carolina. Going around corners, it’s not terrible – not inspiring in any real way, but not terrible. It corners about as flatly as you’d expect from a luxury sedan that weighs about 4,150 pounds.

Unsurprisingly, and in keeping with the tradition of recent BMW offerings, the steering feel is pretty much dead. You, the person reading this story, have felt just as much as I did through the steering wheel of the 530i xDrive. That’s just sort of par for the course these days with electric steering racks in regular cars. It’s the way of the world.

Powertrain-wise, the 530i is by no means a bad place to start a model lineup. BMW has been producing its B48 2.0-liter turbocharged four-popper for nearly 10 years at this point. It’s a refined powerplant that provides decent power – 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque to be exact. It may not sound like a ton compared to where you can go with the 5 Series’ power output, but it’s more than enough for 90 percent of buyers, and good enough to push the car from 0-60 in 5.8 seconds, according to BMW. Go past that with the right tires and you can hit a top speed of 155 mph – something you won’t need to do.

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A gray 2024 BMW 530i xDrive.

Photo: Andy Kalmowitz / Jalopnik

This engine is the workhorse of the lineup. It’s strong, but not inspiring in any real way. It’ll get the job done, though, don’t you worry.

I’ve got just one real problem with the way the 5 drives: it’s not very quiet. You get lots of wind, engine, and road and tire noise entering the cabin, and that is not a very luxurious experience. It’s a bummer in a sedan that costs $73,245 as tested (including $995 for destination). The i5, on the other hand, doesn’t have these issues.

It Would Be Better In A Vacuum

A gray 2024 BMW 530i xDrive.

Photo: Andy Kalmowitz / Jalopnik

Even in its most base 530i form, the eighth-generation 5 Series is a really competent car. It drives well enough, looks good enough and it’ll probably make its owners happy enough. But the 5 series is just better as an electric car, and that’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re spending over $73,000 on a car with a four-cylinder engine – more money than a base i5 eDrive40, which starts at $67,795 and is a car that’ll give you a far more refined experience.

A gray 2024 BMW 530i xDrive.

Photo: Andy Kalmowitz / Jalopnik

I get it, though. Electric driving isn’t for everyone, and there’s a plug-in hybrid 5 Series coming down the line that’ll solve those issues and probably be the best of both worlds. (Plug-in hybrids tend to be that way).

When you’re driving the 530i you cannot escape the fact you bought a basel model car, even if it is a rather good one. There are some things you just cannot get away from, and one is the inherent rattle of a decade-old four-cylinder engine. Electric cars, infrastructure notwithstanding, are quickly proving to be a better alternative to just about every regular car, and the new 5 Series is a prime example of that.