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?

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the BMW range

Driven this week

  • Skoda-Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq
  • Audi Q7 e-tron
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Expensive and flawed but this understated diesel-electric Audi Q7 has a lot to offer
  • Citroën C3
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Is the third gen Citroën C3 ‘fresh and different’ enough to take on its supermini rivals? We spend six months with one to find out
  • BMW X3
    First Drive
    15 October 2017
    A satisfying rework of the X3 that usefully improves its handling, cabin finish, space and connectivity to make this BMW a class front-runner again
  • Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer
    First Drive
    13 October 2017
    Off-road estate is now bigger, more spacious and available with torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, but is it enough to make its German rivals anxious?