Could this be a Porsche 959-inspired creation? Poignant story, too
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£66,610 when new
What’s this then? A plug-in hybrid BMW X5. Hence the ‘e’. Is a plug-in hybrid up to the job in a car the size of an X5? In a word, yes. BMW has upped the battery size from the previous gen car, going from a miserly 9kWh to a much beefier 24kWh (twice the size you’ll find in either the 330e or 530e), and in the process this fourth-gen battery takes the e-only range to a little over 50 miles. For a full size SUV, that’s not bad going. Leaves the Volvo XC90 lagging – at best Volvo claims 24 miles.
Presumably it feels a bit asthmatic on electric only? Well, you won’t win the traffic light grand prix, but for keeping up with normal suburban traffic, and indeed cruising along with most rural traffic, it’s perfectly acceptable. The electric motor can summon 113bhp and there’s a new Anticipatory Hybrid Drive mode (alongside the standard fare like Sport, Hybrid and Electric) that uses the sat nav to control what sort of drive should be used when. The name might be a bit of a mouthful, but the tech works well and means that the X5 is a car that’s easy to just jump in and go. BMW has been careful not to make it too complicated with sub menus and the like, so this is the sort of car where it’s easy to extract the maximum eco performance. So long as you remember to plug it in and actually, y’know, recharge the electric. What is nice about the electric motor is that it gives the car a boost when you’re pulling away from junctions and fills in the turbo lag. There’s no awkward pause like in some diesel SUVs as you wait for the stop-start system to … er … cease stop-starting and for the turbo to get going. Here, the X5 sits silently waiting to go and as soon as you want to, it’s off. What about the petrol engine? The 3.0-litre six cylinder is like all BMW sixes – a peach. It’s smooth, punchy and transitions nicely with the electric motor. 0-62mph only takes 5.6 seconds, but it’s the manner of delivery that’s more impressive. There are no awkward pauses or glitches between the two so that most of the time you struggle to tell exactly which system is pushing you along. Are you going to tell me fuel figures? 188.3mpg. Stop laughing at the back. Real world? 50mpg. Anyone’s guess really. If it’s being used for local school runs and shopping and you’ve got a home charger, then there’s little reason for the petrol to fire up. Ergo: Infinity mpg. Long haul holidays with a full load on board? 25mpg, 30mpg if you’re lucky. That’s the thing with hybrids, you have to dance to their tune rather than vice versa. So should I have a diesel instead? Well, this is a lot more expensive – that £5.5k uplift will buy you around 30,000 miles of diesel, but it’s hard to put a price on the holier-than-thou attitude you’ll be able to adopt if anyone queries the fact you’re tooling around in a massive SUV. Diesel is rapidly becoming a pariah fuel. Electric is the future. 8/10