From £43,6657
The BMW X5 xDrive40e claims up to 85.6mpg and emissions of 77g/km of CO2. Does those figures measure up in the real world on UK roads?

Our Verdict

BMW X5
The X5 uses in effect the same platform as the previous generation, but it's been substantially revised

BMW sticks to its well proven SUV formula with the new X5, delivering a competent and refined off-roader – but one that's lacking those few extra flourishes

  • First Drive

    2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport review

    The BMW X5 xDrive40e claims up to 85.6mpg and emissions of 77g/km of CO2. Does those figures measure up in the real world on UK roads?
  • First Drive

    2015 BMW X5 xDrive40e review

    Hybrid power increases the X5's weight but cuts its CO2 emissions to 77g/km and improves its combined economy to 85.6mpg
19 February 2016

What is it?

Hybrids can be a great tax wheeze if you're a company car driver. Take this new BMW X5 xDrive40e as an example; if you buy one instead of a diesel X5 30d, you’ll more than halve your company car tax bill, to just 13%.

This is a plug-in hybrid, too, so after a three- to four-hour charge - depending on whether you’re using a domestic plug or a proper charging station – the 9.0kWh battery will power the motor for up to 19 miles of silent running. That makes the school run considerably cheaper.

What’s the catch? Well, BMW claims up to 85.6mpg for the 40e, but only someone wearing a lab coat with an esoteric machine that goes ‘ping’ will register that figure. Also, batteries are heavy and can blunt the driving experience, and they create packaging issues – the 40e has a smaller, 500-litre, boot and only five seats rather than the option of seven.

So is it worth paying the £2500 premium for the 40e, or should you play it safe and go for the 30d instead?

What's it like?

Switch the ignition on and the 40e defaults to its Auto eDrive mode, which tries to use the electric motor as much as possible and engages the 2.0-litre petrol only when necessary. It does the usual electric thing of providing plenty of instant torque, while whisking you along in uncanny silence as you amble around town. You have to be judicious with the accelerator pedal, though, and keep your speed below 44mph, otherwise the engine will fire.

When it does, it cuts in smoothly and makes the 40e usefully quick, matching the 30d for outright acceleration and feeling livelier thanks to the engine’s eagerness to rev. It hasn’t got quite as much torque as the 30d, but the dual power sources help spread what it has over a wider range, and with more top-end power you don’t spend long in the danger zone when overtaking.

If you’ve got enough charge you can switch it to the Max eDrive mode, which runs on electric power up to 75mph. But if you do that speed you’ll get nowhere near the supposed 19-mile range - and, surprise surprise, 85.6mpg combined isn’t doable, either; on our trip to North Wales we couldn’t get much more than 25mpg, even when we were being sensible.

On stunning Welsh roads the 40e served up some typical X5 dynamic extremes. Our M Sport model on adaptive dampers offered great body control for a 2.3-ton car, happily resisting lateral g-forces and soaking up mid-corner bumps.

Unfortunately, the steering’s poor weighting and the front wheels' predilection to tramlining engenders distrust, which, combined with the grabby regenerative effect from the brakes, makes you disinclined to use all of the chassis' strengths.

It’s a tale of two halves inside, too. The cabin’s superbly made and hard to fault ergonomically, but at times the ride gets quite busy, while wind and road noise at speed diminish its effectiveness to cosset over long distances.

Should I buy one?

You need to do the sums to see if the 40e will give you any payback over a 30d but basically, if you’re not a company car user and spend most of the time on the motorway, chances are it’s not for you.

As a package, the X5 40e is great in many ways, but its weaknesses prevent it from being the automatic choice. The more practical Volvo XC90 T8 is certainly worth considering as well, and if you’re in the market for either, look out for our forthcoming group test when we'll pronounce definitively which is best.

BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport

Location Wales; On sale now; Price £56,705; Engine 4 cyls, 1997cc, turbocharged petrol and electric motor; Power 309bhp at 5000-6000rpm; Torque 332lb ft at 1250-4800; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 2305 kg; 0-62mph 6.8sec; Top speed 130mph; Economy 85.6mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 77g/km, 13%

Join the debate

Comments
13

19 February 2016

40 to 45 mpg most likely,how much will the batteries cost when needed and how long do they last,3 4 5 yrs or is it more.

20 February 2016
Ski Kid wrote:

40 to 45 mpg most likely,how much will the batteries cost when needed and how long do they last,3 4 5 yrs or is it more.

As the article says, not 40 to 45 mpg, but about 25 mpg in reality assuming you cannot recharge the battery every few miles. Without the option of charging from the mains this is a 2.3 ton car with a petrol engine so economy is going to be poor.

21 February 2016
Campervan wrote:
Ski Kid wrote:

40 to 45 mpg most likely,how much will the batteries cost when needed and how long do they last,3 4 5 yrs or is it more.

As the article says, not 40 to 45 mpg, but about 25 mpg in reality assuming you cannot recharge the battery every few miles. Without the option of charging from the mains this is a 2.3 ton car with a petrol engine so economy is going to be poor.

Interesting that some people know what the reality mpg will be despite never having seen the car let alone driven one. And as hybrids mpg are very particular to the circumstances they are driven 40mpg+ may well be possible for some people.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

20 February 2016
John Howell wrote:

But if you do that speed you’ll get nowhere near the supposed 19-mile range

How far did you get then? 1 mile? 10 yards? You'd imagine this would be something woth mentioning when talking about a Plug-in Hybrid car road test.

 

Please insert paragraps where needed.

21 February 2016

Hi,

Thanks for being an active participant.

Very sorry, but this is what we call a first drive, which is a brief sample of a new car. Here we don't test of every facet of the car, so we didn't conduct a scientific test of the range at a constant 75mph.

What we did do is give it a run at motorway speed and the range went pretty quick - hence my summation of nowhere near 19 miles.

Do read the full road test I eluded to, to find out more.

21 February 2016

Hi.

Thanks for the condescension, having a laugh is always nice.

And i'll be sure to read the comparison test, as long as it's available online. And it's readable. And comprehensive. And unbiased. Too much too ask? Sometimes it feels like it.

Have a great day.

 

Please insert paragraps where needed.

26 February 2016

"Do read the full road test I eluded to, to find out more."

John, did you mean you were being evasive about the road test, or that you alluded to it?

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

5 March 2016

Oh dear, I am ashamed of myself sometimes.

20 February 2016

There is only one purpose of these plug-in hybrids. None of them achieve claimed figures on the road. But a great way to show a clean pair of heels to the tax man indeed.

21 February 2016

They're calculated in labs not claimed as in 'this is what they will do', every time a diesel is reviewed it would get pretty tedious if someone went on and on about not getting what the manufacturer publish etc

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

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