UK Drive: BMW’s X5 xDrive45e is the hybrid for all occasions
BMW has beefed-up the powertrain in its X5 hybrid, but how does this affect the way it drives? Jack Evans finds out
What is it?
The motoring world is hurtling towards electrification and there’s little way of ignoring it. Car manufacturers are certainly aware of it, with close to every car builder incorporating electric technology in some form within its cars – and BMW is no different. It’s why it has electrified its ever-popular X5 with this, the snappily titled X5 xDrive45e. It combines the best of what BMW has to offer; excellent engine technology and efficiency with its latest electric know-how.
We’ve been behind the wheel to see what it’s like to live with.
The main stand-out points with this latest X5 surround that hybrid powertrain, but we’ll get to that in more detail later on. Elsewhere, things are standard-fit X5, with the latest in-car technology and top-notch build quality combining in a car which used to stand alone in BMW’s range of SUVs, but now sits alongside several other offerings.
The SUV segment is a hot one right now, that’s for sure, and there’s not only competition for the X5 from rival manufacturers but from within BMW too. This latest-generation X5 aims to emerge top of its class, and it’s likely that this hybrid powertrain will only help to bolster its appeal.
What’s under the bonnet?
There’s some clever stuff going on underneath this X5 hybrid. Up front, you’ll find a bread-and-butter BMW powerplant in the form of a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six. A feature in BMW models for decades, the straight-six has the edge over the piddly four-cylinder 2.0-litre that was found in the old X5 hybrid.
This is then combined with an electric motor and batteries for a combined output of 389bhp and 600Nm. It makes the X5 genuinely brisk, with 0-60mph dispatched in just 5.4 seconds and, if you keep your foot flat, it’ll head all the way to 146mph flat-out.
Of course, this isn’t being pitched as a performance model, which is why the efficiency figures have been kept so strong, with BMW claiming 200mpg and emissions of 31g/km CO2. Plus, because the X5 hybrid has been fitted with a larger-than-normal battery, it can go around 54 miles on battery power alone.
What’s it like to drive?
One of the greatest compliments that you can pay this BMW is that it feels strikingly similar to a standard X5. The changeover from electric to petrol power is barely noticeable, and the engine is so well isolated from the cabin that you have to be quite harsh with the throttle to provoke it into making noise. Around town, it’s quiet and serene, with the eight-speed automatic gearbox giving the car far more responsiveness than rivals in this segment.
Of course, keeping those batteries topped up is key. Fall back on petrol power alone and economy figures take a predictable dive. The only drawback when it comes to charging is the standard cable provided to you by BMW enables a charging rate of just 3.7kw – tortoise speeds, by today’s standard – which results in a 0-80 per cent battery charging time of over five hours. For context, a Nissan Leaf would take 11 hours to charge to 100 per cent using the same speed of charge – but that would’ve added around 143 miles of all-electric range.
How does it look?
Off the bat, the X5 hybrid looks pretty much like any other X5. There are no real ‘look at me, I’m a hybrid’ badges splashed across the exterior, while the only real mechanical giveaway is the addition of a cover for the charging point. For those who want a hybrid vehicle but don’t want to shout about it, then the X5 hybrid will be bang on the money.
It’s a clever, well-thought-out design, and one which manages to evolve the looks of the older X5 without being too radical.
What’s it like inside?
The interior of the X5 is superbly well made, with high-end materials used throughout helping to give a real sense of occasion. Of course, this is no cheap car – it starts from £64,475 without options – but the fit-and-finish that you get in the cabin does go some way towards justifying this rather steep entry price.
And whereas Mercedes and Volvo have gone down the route of ultra-wide screens, the BMW’s infotainment system has been integrated in a quieter, less shouty fashion. It’s still a huge screen, mind you, but it doesn’t seem as obviously large as in rival vehicles.
What’s the spec like?
There’s plenty of equipment on board in the X5, and more than enough technology to keep the savviest of button-pushers happy. The main screen is 12.3 inches, and this is bolstered by another 12.3-inch screen in place of where the dials would traditionally go. It utilises one of the most intuitive systems around at the moment, with the option of either touchscreen or dial-operated controls giving you a bit more freedom about how you interact with it.
There’s plenty of space inside too, though the boot has taken a bit of a hit as a result of the batteries – it’s down by 150 litres on the 645 litres you’ll find in the standard X5. Oh, and there’s no seven-seat option here – the hybrid is a strict five-seater.
If you want a hybrid that seamlessly fits into daily life, then the X5 is likely to be a great choice. Excellent running costs, a genuinely useable all-electric range and brilliant build quality all mean that this BMW will be an appropriate option for many. Expensive it may be, but the X5 hybrid is one of the most useable cars of its type thanks to that more-than-50-mile electric range.
We do wish that a quicker charging cable was provided, but it’s quite a small fly in the ointment. Other than that, the X5 xDrive45e is easily one of the most well-rounded hybrid SUVs on sale today.
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