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Plug-in hybrid ditches its older petrol four-cylinder for a more powerful six-pot - and is all the better for it

Our Verdict

BMW X5 2018 road test review - hero front

In its 20th birthday year, is BMW’s original SUV back to its very best?

  • First Drive

    BMW X5 xDrive 45e 2019 review

    Plug-in hybrid ditches its older petrol four-cylinder for a more powerful six-pot - and is all the better for it
  • First Drive

    BMW X5 M50d 2019 UK review

    Combines big pace with efficiency in stereotypically Teutonic fashion, but isn’t the performance SUV you’d choose for the last word in poise or excitement
6 November 2019
BMW X5 xDrive 45e 2019

What is it?

The X5 xDrive45e is the latest in a burgeoning number of plug-in hybrid BMW models.

Now on sale in the UK at a price of £65,760, the plush new petrol-electric SUV replaces the older X5 xDrive40e, bringing with it greater power, added performance and, most importantly where CO2 emissions and road tax busting premiums are concerned, an increased pure electric range.

At the heart of the new SUV is the same drivetrain as that used by the 745e. It combines BMW’s turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine developing 282bhp and 332lb ft of torque with a gearbox mounted electric motor that delivers 111bhp and 195lb ft.

Together, the two power sources offer a combined system output of 389bhp and 442lb ft of torque – all of which is channelled through a standard eight-speed torque converter equipped automatic gearbox and BMW’s widely used xDrive four-wheel drive system.

This represents a 77bhp and 100lb ft increase on the drivetrain used by the X5 xDrive40e, which relied on on a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor for propulsion.

Energy for the X5 xDrive45e’s electric motor is provided by a 24.0kWh lithium-ion battery mounted under the luggage compartment. It offers 14.8kWh more than the 9.2kWh lithium ion battery used by the X5 xDrive40e, and with it a much increased claimed electric range on the WLTP test cycle at between 42 and 54 miles. This contributes to a combined fuel consumption figure of between 148.7 and 235.4mpg on the WLTP cycle, with corresponding CO2 emissions of between 44 and 27g/km.

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The catch comes in reduced luggage capacity. At 500 litres, there’s 145 litres less than more conventional combustion engine X5 models. Happily, though, the capacity of the fuel tank remains at 69 litres.

What's it like?

The X5 xDrive45e represents a significant advance over the older X5 xDrive40e. It not only delivers greater power, performance and electric range but also vastly improved levels of refinement.

In eDrive mode, the new BMW is programmed to use its electric motor as much as possible . . . and it does for impressive distances around town on light throttle loads. The instant torque qualities of the discs shaped unit sandwiched within the forward part of the gearbox housing whisks you along in silence when the conditions allow.

The X5 xDrive45e’s six-cylinder petrol engine only engages when you call up greater performance through a more determined stab on the throttle. It is noticeably smoother and more refined than the smaller four-cylinder petrol engine used by the earlier X5 xDrive40e. It enters the drive process in a seamless manner and then shuts down again without any tell tale signs.

The petrol engine and electric motor are terrifically well integrated, to the extent that you’re scarcely aware what power source is doing the work in low-speed urban driving conditions.

Out on the open road, there’s added smoothness to the combustion engine at any point in the rev range and the electric motor is less peaky in nature – all of which leads to truly effortless progress.

That said, the X5 xDrive45e never really feels like a car capable of hitting 62mph in 5.6sec. That’s partly because with the large battery it weighs 2435kg. The initial step-off acceleration is quite strong owing to the instant torque of the electric motor, but it struggles thereafter.

With sufficient energy in the battery you can call up Max eDrive mode, which runs exclusively on electric power at speeds up to 84mph, some 9mph more than before. When you do, though, the electric range rapidly depletes and wind buffeting around the large exterior mirror housings is more present owing to a complete lack of driveline noise.

As such, it’s best to simply call up eMode and relax, allowing the two power sources to do their thing. So configured, the X5 xDrive45e automatically provides you with the optimum performance for any given situation.

On smooth German roads, the xDrive45e serves up typical X5 dynamic traits; on optional air springs with adaptive damping it delivers impressive agility and great body control given its weight and dimensions. The steering, however, lacks for feel.

On the upside, the brakes are hugely improved with a more linear action and greater feel through the pedal thanks to advances in the energy recuperation system.

Inside, the cabin is superbly built with high-quality materials and great ergonomics.

Should I buy one?

Whether this is the right X5 for you comes down to your driving habits. If you do a lot of urban driving and have easy access to a high-speed charger the xDrive45e is definitely worth consideration. Its appeal as a company car is quite high thanks to its low average CO2 emissions, which help you save on road tax.

It is a vast improvement over the older X5 xDrive40e, bringing the sort of electric range that will enable you to achieve an average commute on the electric energy of the battery alone.  

BMW xDrive 45e specification

Where Munich, Germany Price £65,760 On sale now Engine 6 cyls in line, 2998cc, turbocharged, petrol, plus electric motor Power 389bhp (total output) Torque 442lb ft (total output) Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 2435kg Top speed 146mph 0-62mph 5.6sec Fuel economy 148.7-235.4mpg (WLTP combined) CO2 27-44g/km Rivals Volvo XC90 T8 TwinEngine, Audi Q7 TFSIe

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Comments
10

7 November 2019
One single detail is enough to show up BMW nolonger care about design.
The air vent behind the front wheel arch has become a new BMW signature. Here it is reduced to an apologetic token opening, what's more, one that is awkwardly shaped and positioned, squeezed between the wheel arch and the front door, and unrelated visually to anything else.
The whole X5 is an accumulation of awkward detailing like this.

7 November 2019

I suppose all those £100's saved on petrol could be put towards the £1000's additional purchase price. And don't get me started on a near 2,500 kg weight, so much for advancement tech!

7 November 2019

Can you still get the two extra seats in the boot?Normally this option is no longer available with a PHEV but it would be useful if the review confirmed this.  The Volvo XC90 T8 is rare in retaining 7 seats.

7 November 2019

All that size and only 500l boot? Severely compromised as a 'family' car!

7 November 2019

But then where else could put a battery with the power to drive a MK1 LEAF 120 miles.  Unless you substantially modify these types of adapted PHEVs you're basically putting a huge heavy batttery in the boot and spare wheel compartment.

7 November 2019
xxxx wrote:

But then where else could put a battery with the power to drive a MK1 LEAF 120 miles.  Unless you substantially modify these types of adapted PHEVs you're basically putting a huge heavy batttery in the boot and spare wheel compartment.

Would you get that kind of range from a leaf1? I thought their range was 80-100 miles?
It is shocking that it is a battery big enough to be the sole power supply for a smaller car though.

I still think phevs or range extenders are a good idea and compromise in theory, a reasonably priced focus sized phev could be great but they only appear on huge SUVs, which I assume is because they're prohibitively expensive to down size and to enable these huge beasts to be tax efficient.

7 November 2019
si73 wrote:
xxxx wrote:

But then where else could put a battery with the power to drive a MK1 LEAF 120 miles.  Unless you substantially modify these types of adapted PHEVs you're basically putting a huge heavy batttery in the boot and spare wheel compartment.

Would you get that kind of range from a leaf1? I thought their range was 80-100 miles? It is shocking that it is a battery big enough to be the sole power supply for a smaller car though. I still think phevs or range extenders are a good idea and compromise in theory, a reasonably priced focus sized phev could be great but they only appear on huge SUVs, which I assume is because they're prohibitively expensive to down size and to enable these huge beasts to be tax efficient.

I think when new you'd expect 120 if driving your granny around, but my point is, what a 24kh battery is capable of.

There was the plug-in Prius but it  was/is a pretty poor seller, not even sure if it's still available in the UK, think it was around £30K

7 November 2019
si73][quote=xxxx wrote:

... a reasonably priced focus sized phev could be great but they only appear on huge SUVs, which I assume is because they're prohibitively expensive to down size and to enable these huge beasts to be tax efficient.

Imagine how much space the batteries would occupy in your little Focus ... it would be extremely compromised as a family car. The X5 on the other hand is a perfectly sensible family conveyance and certainly not a "huge beast", particularly when compared to the X7 and traditional full-size SUVs.

7 November 2019
Rollocks]<p>[quote=si73 wrote:
xxxx wrote:

... a reasonably priced focus sized phev could be great but they only appear on huge SUVs, which I assume is because they're prohibitively expensive to down size and to enable these huge beasts to be tax efficient.

Imagine how much space the batteries would occupy in your little Focus ... it would be extremely compromised as a family car. The X5 on the other hand is a perfectly sensible family conveyance and certainly not a "huge beast", particularly when compared to the X7 and traditional full-size SUVs.

Agree the X5 etc have their place, I'm not a fan but appreciate many are, especially those who tow, traditionally you'd get a diesel but they're unpopular at the mo' a petrol would be too expensive to run so this could be a best of both worlds, electric motor torque for towing could be useful, the ability to be emissions free in cities and as a hybrid, better economy than the petrol if not as good as a diesel.
I still think they're huge beasts but that's because I'm not a fan, but a focus sized phev could work, as XXXX said Toyota had a Prius phev, they're just too expensive.

7 November 2019

The co2 and mpg is almost fraudulent,what will it be like just under petrol power as most will be , a recent study in Belgium showed most plugs are still in the wrapper unused,just a tax dodHence grants withdrawn ther eand Uk for hybrids.

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