BMW’s latent scepticism about vehicle electrification must have given way to grudging acceptance midway through the last decade, hence this ActiveHybrid 5. 

In 2005, Munich signed a deal to collaborate with Daimler, Chrysler and General Motors on the development of hybrid vehicle technologies, and in 2009 BMW launched the X6 ActiveHybrid and the ActiveHybrid 7 limousine production models. They weren’t hybrids in the economy sense, however, as they featured V8 engines and weren’t capable of electric-only running.

Beyond the gaze of us Brits, you might wonder why, given the market-leading diesel engines that the company makes, BMW has been dabbling in the global market for petrol-electric hybrid luxury cars. The truth is that some of the biggest car markets in the world remain all but closed off to diesel-engined cars. Petrol hybrids are therefore particularly important in a global sense.

The ActiveHybrid 5 appears ahead of hybrid 3 and 7 Series models and all will use the same parallel hybrid powertrain, which promises to combine limited zero-emissions, electric-only running with diesel-challenging real-world economy, allied to the kind of distinguishing performance we have all come to expect of a BMW.

So, is it time to chop in your 535d?

Top 5 Hybrids

  • BMW i3
    Two versions of the BMW i3 are on sale: a pure electric model or a range-extender variant

    BMW i3

  • Volkswagen's Golf GTE is priced from £28,035

    Volkswagen Golf GTE

  • The A3 e-tron's powertrain produces a combined 201bhp and 258lb ft

    Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

  • All-new Prius blends hyper-low CO2 with credible real-world pace

    Toyota Prius

  • The CT200h is Lexus’s first compact model

    Lexus CT200h


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