BMW X5 PHEV

3 years ago

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BMW X5 PHEVCar Specification

Engine

1997cc four-cylinder turbocharged petrol and synchronous electric motor

Torque

Max power 308bhp and 332 lbs ft torque from engine and motor

Transmission

Eight-speed automatic

Fuel

85.6mpg

Acceleration

0-62mph: 6.8 seconds

Emissions

77g/km

Price

£55,925

Tax

Band A: No road tax under current laws

Until now German car maker BMW£€™s electric car efforts have centred on its trendy i brand, but now, aimed mainly at sales in the United States and China, it has added the X5 xDrive40e.

As a plug-in hybrid, the car delivers the usual glamour, luxury and versatility of the popular X5 sports utility vehicle with all-wheel drive to maximise traction, together with the extra ability to travel without exhaust emissions for short distances.

The 2-litre twin-turbo petrol engine, three times winner of the International Engine of the Year award, produces 242hp and the electric motor an additional 111bhp to boost power or reduce how hard the engine has to work.

Total available power is 313hp which makes for lively, silken performance and 0-62mph acceleration in a sports car-like 6.8 seconds.

The way the 40e surges forward in near silence, even when you need extra power at motorway speeds, is delightful and addictive.

Power is transmitted via an eight-speed Steptronic transmission but the name is a misnomer as you rarely feel any gear changes.

Critics dismiss hybrids as cynical company car tax dodgers – and true the X5 will save people £2,711 a year in benefit-in-kind tax compared to the 40d diesel – and it is only £€˜green£€™ if you charge it frequently and use it in an urban environment.

Surprisingly the X5 is just over the carbon dioxide limit to avoid paying the London congestion tax, unlike with the forthcoming Audi Q7 e-tron.

The official combined fuel consumption is 85.6mpg, but if you flog down a motorway with the batteries flat the reality is 28/29mpg.

In electric mode, the X5£€™s range is a claimed 19 miles, but it is difficult not to have the engine chime in.

BMW claims the electric power reduces petrol consumption on sub 15 mile trips in urban traffic to an equivalent 94.2mpg.

If the battery is fully charged, a 37 mile trip could see fuel economy of 43.5mpg.

With a full 85-litre tank of petrol and the battery pack charged, BMW claims long-distance economy above 25.7mpg.

Overall, the X5 PHEV is an impressive piece of kit, though sometimes there is more road noise than you might expect.

It£€™s a calming car that£€™s a pleasure to drive and considering its height and weight it corners very well; helped by the variable distribution of engine power between the front and rear wheels.

You can select comfort, sport or eco pro modes to change throttle response, steering characteristics, transmission responses and the firmness of the suspension dampers.

Eco pro mode reduces use by the air conditioning, seat heating and heated mirrors and when backing off the power it cuts the engine£€™s fuel supply.

The satellite navigation with its real time traffic is great once you have actually managed to set the destination, but I always find BMW£€™s gear selector lever and parking brake confusing to operate, especially if you need reverse in a hurry.

The turning circle is good and parking made easier by accurate sensors and an optional (£375) reversing camera.

It was a little blown about by the wind heading south on the M40.

Home charging takes about four hours. It£€™s quicker with a wall box or a public charging station.

Luggage capacity is cut by 150 litres to 500 litres because the battery pack and charging cable are housed under the boot.

Standard features include Xenon headlights, LED fog lights, electric tailgate, leather upholstery, self-levelling suspension, DAB radio, cruise control and 40:20:40 split folding rear seats.

Options not available include a third row of seats, adaptive suspension, active steering, rear comfort seats and a load through ski bag.

Verdict Makes financial sense for urban based company car user