Thursday 8 December 2016

BMW are plugging in to the future with the new X5

Published 26/06/2015 | 12:55

BMW X5 xDrive 40e
BMW X5 xDrive 40e
Eddie Cunningham with the new BMW X5

"BMW are plugging in to the future with technology that is capable of returning up to 85mpg in its large Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) the famous X5," writes Eddie Cunningham in Munich.

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I’ve just been driving the new X5 xDrive40e, to give it its full title - most people will call it the X5 PHEV (plug-in electric vehicle).

It has a hybrid combination of a 2-litre 4cyl turbo petrol engine and an electric motor to drive all four wheels through an 8spd gearbox. The critical difference between this and an ordinary hybrid is that you can also plug it in for a charge so it goes some of the way on electricity only.

And that is what massively contributes to its lower fuel consumption and emission figures.

Between the engine and the electric motor, BMW say the car pumps a total of 313bhp - it skips from a standing start to 100kmh in just 6.8 seconds. And after driving it here today, I believe them.

This can move.

One of the (several) eye-catching figures is the road tax. Remember this is a big, big luxury SAV (they insist it is a Sports Activity Vehicle not a Utility). But the road tax is only €170 a year. That’s lower than most tiny city cars, superminis and diesels. And it is possible because its emissions are just 77g/km and it can do a claimed 85.6mpg.

In electric-only mode it has a range of around 30km.

Total claimed range is 830km.

You can top up the lithium-ion battery pack from a domestic power socket, public charging station or a BMW i Wallbox.

The savings are made if you are prepared to regularly charge it so you avoid using the engine during heavy-consumption city driving, for example.

The engine, battery and electric motor all contribute after that so you get hybrid consumption – on top of the 30km electric drive.

Price for this first plug-in hybrid production car from the main BMW brand (as opposed to its ‘i’ brand) will start at €73,670 before delivery/related charges for SE and €80,450 for the MSport. You get €2,500 of a VRT rebate on top of that so the price really starts at €71,170. That compares favourably with the likes of the diesel xDrive25d SE which starts at €72,760.

But at 77g/km it is just two grammes above the 75g/km that would have allowed for another incentive (from SEAI) of €5,000.

The main drawback is that you can’t have seven seats because of the space the battery pack takes up at the rear. With the other models you can fit a third row (it costs €2,289).  And boot space is down a bit.

Despite that they expect around 150 people to buy one next year. It arrives in October/November.

This is just a start: virtually every mainline model will have a PHEV option – starting with the 3-series, 7-series and 2-series Active Tourer.

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