By Patrick James on 2016-08-21 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
BMW X5 xDrive40e M
THINK hybrids and fuel economy and low carbon emissions spring to mind - for most of them that is.
The combination of engine and battery-powered electric motor can produce some seriously economical motoring.
But if the power is produced from a 245bhp two-litre engine and an electric motor to deliver 313bhp, it's performance as much as anything else you are going to get in spades.
The first plug-in hybrid production car from the BMW core brand is the X5 xDrive40e where the drive system combines those power units mated with the eight-speed automatic transmission.
The makers say it offers the versatility and luxurious ambience of the X5, along with the superb traction provided by the BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system, with BMW's EfficientDynamics eDrive technology for outstanding efficiency.
It's difficult to argue with that and despite rip-roaring performance from such a huge vehicle, superb economy figures can be delivered, around 85mpg and carbon emissions of just 77g/km.
It looks little different from other X5s apart from the telltale flap on the front wing which houses the charging point for the batteriy and discrete badging elsewehere.
Otherwise the only other change is slightly less space in the boot to accommodate the lithium ion battery.
This still leaves 500 litres of space, which can be increased to 1,720-litres with the rear seats folded, while the charging cable can also be stored in a hinged compartment under the luggage area floor.
In M Sport finish it looks good with a streamlined, dynamic profile and sitting on 18-inch light-alloy wheels in double-spoke design, which makes it one of the prettiest SUVs on the road.
Bespoke design touches include a twin-tailpipe design with trapezoidal tips "eDrive" logo on tailgate, roof rails, the doorsill strips with their blue background colour, and the centre console.
Inside it is a typically luxurious motor with black-panel instrument cluster which has had hybrid-specific functions added.
Depending on the selected drive mode, information on the vehicle's electric and total range, current fuel or electricity consumption, recuperation of electrical energ and the progress of vehicle charging can likewise all be shown .
Otherwise a central screen displays major functions controlled via BMW's i-Drive operating system's Control Display.
Drive the car at under 40mph and you can run on electric power only for around 20 miles with zero tailpipe emissions. Driven in this way, BMW says economy of around 86mpg can be achieved. In reality, floor the accelerator to hit 60mph in under seven seconds and it will drink the fuel.
But what an exciting drive it delivers.
However, BMW also says that assuming the battery is fully charged, daily commutes of up to 37 miles can be completed with a fuel consumption of no more than 43.5mpg, depending on driving style, while journeys of over 125 miles sees economy fall to around 27mpg.
As you would expect from a car costing well over £50,000, it is packed with standard kit, including dynamic damper control, s self-levelling rear air suspension, twin-zone automatic climate control which includes an auxiliary heating and ventilation system, xenon headlights, LED fog lights, an automatic tailgate, Dakota leather upholstery, heated front seats, and 40:20:40 split folding rear seats.
BMW's Professional navigation system and DAB radio are other standard features.
On the road, the pace of the car is matched by superb handling for such a big motor and a firm, but comfortable ride. When rough terrain or bad weather are encountered, the permanent four wheel drive sends the power automatically to wherever it is needed.
BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport
Mechanical: 309 bhp, 1,997cc, 4-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor driving all 4 wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 130 mph
0-62mph: 6.8 secs
Combined MPG: 85.6
Insurance Group: 42
C02 emissions: 77 g/km
Bik rating: 15%
Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles
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