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driv-e for 5 New BMW 5 Series plug-in hybrid is a slick and smooth drive

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BMW - 530e M Sport Pro

The BMW 5-Series saloon has, for many years, been the must-have accessory for senior company executives all over our little country. It went hand-in-hand with the suits, like a pint of plain did in Shane MacGowan's paws during his heyday.

But like the Pogues' frontman himself, the latest 5-Series to roll off the production lines is changing its direction in life to become a more 'Guinness Light' type of machine in the form of the updated 530e plug-in hybrid.

On the outside, the new 5-Series has been treated to new, slimmer contouring headlights and a beefed-up front grille that the designers in Germany seem to have some soft of fetish for in all the latest models.

It's not as daring as the one we mentioned in the 4-Series a few weeks back, but it does give the front-end a fresh new look.

The rear lights have also undergone a mild makeover and are now slimmer and more curvaceous than the ones on its predecessor.

The rims have been smartened up too and the 5-Series in M Sport package guise features new 19- and 20-inch wheels, while the new limited M Sport Edition comes with exclusive individual metallic paint and unique 20-inch 'Air Performance' wheels.

However, possibly the biggest change in the revised 5-Series is that all models now feature fuel-saving 48-volt mild-hybrid technology, apart from the plug-in hybrid model which was my test drive for the week.

Inside, new interior features include a larger 12.3-inch central information display powered by BMW's latest operating System 7.0, including BMW's 'Intelligent Personal Assistant' and smartphone integration.

It also benefits from the latest camera- and radar-based driving assistant systems, including features like steering and lane-control assistant and active cruise control to name just a few.

On the road, the revised 5 still remains one of the smoothest cars to drive in terms of comfort and handling.

Even on the more testing roads up the Dublin mountains where I put it through its paces, BMW's upgraded adaptive suspension made light work of every blemish on the meandering, narrow roads.

It's still the perfect driver's car that the chasing pack try to emulate.

There is no doubt that my test model - the 530e plug-in hybrid - is the obvious choice for buyers who want to do their bit for the environment and save a few quid themselves on fuel charges.

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The 530e comes with an 80kW electric motor and 12kWh lithium-ion battery. BMW claim that you will get 51km from a full charge but, realistically it is closer to 40km under normal, everyday driving conditions.

Still, that's not bad for someone like me who would be able to do a round trip to the office (if I ever get back, that is) on a full charge without dipping into the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine it's fitted with.

Driving on an empty battery I was achieving between 6 and 7l/100km, so it makes a lot of sense to keep it charged if you want to get the most of it.

Prices for the new 530e SE model start at €62,320. Upgrade to the M Sport Pro model that I had for the week and drop in a few extras here and there and you are looking at a whopping €84,631.

Personally, that's a bit out of my price range to say the least, but it is some car if you can afford it.

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Meanwhile, just weeks after launching the new M3 Competition saloon and M4 Competition coupé in Ireland, BMW is set to add another two variants to the model line-up by offering the M xDrive all-wheel drive system for the high-performance sports cars in the premium mid-size segment for the first time.

With more driven wheels, the new M3 Competition M xDrive saloon and M4 Competition M xDrive coupé take the exclusive M feeling to an even higher level. The improvements in traction, handling stability and agility enable both models to reach 100kmph from standstill in only 3.5 seconds, making them 0.4 seconds quicker on the sprint than their rear-wheel drive counterparts.

The power from the 510hp straight-six engine fitted in the new models is directed via an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with 'Drivelogic'. The M-specific all-wheel drive system then divides it between the front and rear wheels as required to enhance agility, directional stability, traction and track-focused dynamics.


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