BMW would have been an odds-on bet to bring the market its first genuinely sporting hybrid saloon. And to drive the ActiveHybrid 5 is to be reassured that at-the-wheel entertainment is a major part of Munich’s plan for the hybridisation of its model ranges. For that, the applause must come long and loud.

However, diesel-dominated Britain has proved a tricky market for cars such as this. 

Its surprisingly sporty, but fuel economy is poor

Despite its performance appeal, the ActiveHybrid 5 isn’t nearly economical enough to make you want to give up a fast diesel saloon. 

You could forgive a deficit of a few miles per gallon in return for the verve of its petrol engine, but mid-20s – when a 535d would be in the high 30s – just isn’t tolerable.

Throughout the wider world, there may well be a bigger future for this car, but BMW will need a more economical take on the hybrid to make most British buyers sit up and take notice.

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