Why can’t car buyers have their cake and eat it too? Lots of buyers want big SUVs – they have space for the kids, their friends, your dogs, golf clubs or both, all while being luxurious and fast. The problem is most big SUVs have an appetite for fuel as large as their boot capacities – so can you have all that space with miniature running costs?
BMW is the latest manufacturer to try and offer consumers both a large body and tiny running costs by fitting the X5 SUV with a plug-in hybrid system. Mixing two power sources together in one car is heinously complicated so we’ve boiled the news down to the five things you need to know about the new X5 hybrid.
1 – It’s as efficient as a Toyota Yaris hybrid
Admittedly, the Yaris is a mild hybrid (meaning it puts braking energy back into the battery and has stop/start) compared to the X5’s plug-in system but, whichever way you look at it, both cars achieve 85.6mpg. Thanks to the X5’s 2.0-litre 245hp petrol engine and 113hp electric motor, this big car can return some truly impressive figures. The large battery pack allows for more than 30 miles of electric-only running, more than that offered by the McLaren P1 or the Porsche 918 electric hypercars – good news for pub bragging rights.
2 – It’s faster than a Yaris, too
It’s perhaps less surprising that, with a combined 313hp, the BMW’s 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds is considerably faster than the Yaris’s. When both power sources are in use, the X5 hybrid tops out at 130mph but, even when just using the electric motor, it can still reach 75mph. Selectable powertrain modes allow the driver to maximise performance for the conditions – mixed running, battery-only or engine-only can all be chosen.
3 – It won’t get bogged down at the races
Being unstoppable off-road isn’t the X5’s raison d’être but, when you’re buying an SUV, you expect it to have some ability in the rough stuff. Thankfully, the BMW doesn’t disappoint here thanks to its standard xDrive permanent all-wheel-drive system. Linked to the stability control, the system constantly shuffles power around all four wheels to find the optimum levels of traction both on- and off-road.
4 – It gets plenty of kit as standard
BMW can’t expect you to pay the (presumably) hefty premium for the hybrid X5 without offering buyers the knowledge they’re at least getting most of the kit they’ll need. Prices have yet to be announced, but it gets self-levelling rear air suspension, an instant-acting heating and cooling system, xenon headlights, LED running lights, an automatic boot lid, leather upholstery with heated front seats, sat-nav, DAB (digital) radio and cruise control all as standard.
5 – You can charge it at home
To make the most of that 30+ mile electric range you can recharge the X5’s batteries from the mains overnight. A standard wall socket takes 3 hours and 50 minutes to fully replenish the batteries but BMW’s basic wall box can cut this time to just 2 hours and 45 minutes. A smartphone app can keep track of your charging progress and, if you generate your own electricity, a more advanced box can allow you to select your energy source.
Take a look at our full review of the BMW X5 and the cars it needs to beat – the Audi Q7 (and its new e-tron plug-in hybrid), the Porsche Cayenne and the Volvo XC90. Then head over to our car deals page to see our latest discounts or head over to our car configurator to see how much you could save on your next car.