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?