BMW X5 xDrive40e M

Sport - First Drive

BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport, front, action
BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport, side
BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport, front, static
BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport, interior
BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport, rear
BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport, badge
BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport, plug-in socket
BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport, power gauge
BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport, display screen
BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport, charging
BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport, plug-in
BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport, boot
BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport, cables
BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport, e-button
BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport, gear lever

BMW has a proven track record when it comes to electrification - after all consider the fabulously cool city car the i3 or the jaw-droppingly awesome sports car the i8, but now the Bavarian company has branched into the plug-in hybrid market.

It comes in the shape of the X5 xDrive40e and combines a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 245bhp with a 113bhp electric motor which together offer a whopping 313bhp of grunt, which means power and performance are guaranteed.

If there were any doubt over the car's capabilities then the stats should lay them to rest because the PHEV Beemer can sprint from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds and onto a top speed of 130mph (limited). However it can deliver a very creditable 83.1mpg with carbon emissions of just 78g/km.

The battery is housed beneath the luggage compartment floor, so the boot's capacity is still ample at 500 litres (1,720 with the 40:20:40 rear seats dropped flat) and according to BMW the vehicle can be fully charged in two-and-a-half hours from a wall box or three-and-a-half hours from a domestic power point.

The position of the battery does however mean there is no room for a third row of seats.

The vehicle has an eight-speed Steptronic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddles and as this is an xDrive model it comes with permanent all-wheel-drive.

Apart from some distinctive eDrive badging and the charging port, this hybrid model looks identical to any other X5 model - it's big, bold and beefy.

Stand out features include 20-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, a panoramic glass roof and M aerodynamic body-styling. The interior is spacious with ample room for five adults and there is technology to be explored at every turn.

Creature comforts include the likes of a steering wheel heater, heated seats front and rear, a pitch perfect Harman Kardon surround sound system, internet access, enhanced Bluetooth with voice control and plenty more besides.

So the car certainly looks the part and is stacked with techno treats, but how does BMW's first hybrid SUV perform when put to the test? The answer is rather well.

As with most PHEVs the BMW can be driven on electric power alone up to 19 miles where it still maintains its lively driving characteristics, albeit it in complete silence.

Acceleration is sharp and responsive and the elevated driving position means the driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility at all times.

In and around town, the car moves along quite elegantly and then out on the faster country lanes and motorways there is ample power on tap at all times.

The road-holding is excellent although at times the ride was a tad firm, but that aside, the car was a dream to drive.

There are driving modes called Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ that alter the car's driving dynamics accordingly.

In addition there are three modes that allow the driver to significantly influence the car's actual energy consumption.

The first is Auto eDrive mode whereby the intelligent BMW EfficientDynmaics system determines the most efficient combination of electric motor and petrol engine.

The Max eDrive mode means you can enjoy purely electric driving for approximately 19 miles up to speeds of 75mph. Anything faster and the petrol engine kicks in.

Finally, in Save Battery mode the battery can be charged by the combustion engine or it maintains the existing charge for when pure electric driving is needed.

All in all, BMW's PHEV SUV is quite a car. It has all the power and driving dynamics of the standard X5 model, but offers the addition of electric motoring which would prove invaluable to city dwellers with a short commute.

Admittedly at £55,925 (£62,605 with extras fitted) the car is not a cheap option, but it is a fabulous piece of kit that offers a clear insight into BMW's hybrid intentions of the future.

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