What is it?
BMW’s electrification strategy is second to none. Want a quirky, cutting-edge, cool-to-drive, city-conquering EV? That’ll be the i3. Want a low-emission, eco-savvy, futuristic and forward-thinking sports car? That’ll be the i8. BMW i’s two-model line-up has proven to be a first-adopter slam dunk - and a wham-bam slapdown of the plodding, concept-heavy strategy trotted out elsewhere.
Nevertheless, both offerings were exclusive (and expensive to make) by design. BMW never intended to put one on every driveway; the i3 and i8 were the amuse-bouche of its hybrid menu - intricate, innovative and out there.
Now, as if to reiterate that we’ve moved onto a more substantive course, BMW has decided that the first production core brand PHEV we get to sample should be the X5, in high-price xDrive40e format.
To the manufacturer at least, this makes sense. Hybrid SUVs might not yet have taken Europe entirely by storm, but in the petrol-dominated US and Chinese markets, their potential sales volumes are prodigious.
In the US, with Lexus and Porsche chief among its rivals, luxury and performance rate as highly as efficiency, so the plug-in hybrid X5 gets plenty of surge to go with its zero-emission waft.