- Up to 54 miles of electric-only driving, which is more than the average daily commute
- Instant torque with good acceleration out the starting blocks
- Great tax savings for business drivers
- Heavier than standard X5 due to the hybrid technology and no seven-seat option
- The 200-mile-plus mpg fuel figure would only be achievable over short commutes with regular charging
- Expensive if you like to add lots of optional extras
With a driving range of up to 54 miles between charges, the BMW X5 xDrive45e can easily cover the average daily commute in pure electric mode. And then when longer journeys are needed there is the powerful 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine to fall back on.
With excellent tax savings for the business driver, this five-door SUV offers all the practicality of a family vehicle along with the reassurance of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system.
Customers can choose from two trim levels called xLine and M Sport and both versions come packed with top quality fixtures and fittings, plus all the latest safety and infotainment kit.
On The Road
The new second-generation plug-in hybrid X5 gains a larger 24kWh battery pack for double the electric driving range, plus a more powerful V6 petrol engine.
We tested the X5 xDrive45e M Sport model powered by a turbocharged 3.0-litre, V6 petrol engine and electric motor delivering a combined 394bhp and 600Nm of torque. And those stats translate into performance figures that are not for the faint-hearted. Despite weighing in at more than 2.5 tonnes, the car can sprint from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds and tops out at 146mph.
The acceleration through the eight-speed automatic gearbox is nicely timed and there are steering wheel paddles to take extra control of the shifts manually. By default, the car pulls away in pure silence in its hybrid mode and then the six-cylinder engine kicks in under heavier acceleration.
The car can be locked into Electric mode which is ideal for Congestion Charge zones and a Battery Save mode is also handy to keep charge back for later on.
This X5 quickly reaches 70mph and then cruises effortlessly. The road holding is confident through tight bends and there is minimal body sway.
It is also deceptively agile in busier city centre settings with impressive manoeuvrability.
The transition between electric and petrol power is completely seamless and goes on unnoticed in the background. In all honesty, without the extra EV-specific readouts and buttons, it would be easy to forget this is a plug-in hybrid car.
The xDrive technology brings intelligent all-wheel drive to the mix which is a bonus with our totally unpredictable weather patterns these days.
Despite being a plug-in hybrid with an EV-only driving mode, this X5 can certainly put in a good shift with plenty of attitude when faced with the open road. The acceleration is smooth and responsive, but the power through sharp bends is what really impresses. The M Sport model has adaptive dampers which results in outstanding body control into corners and any bumps and dips won’t cause the car to fidget in the slightest.
It feels balanced at all times and you can flick through various drive modes called Sport, Hybrid, Electric and Adaptive that alter the mannerisms of the car considerably.
You will notice the extra weight due to the additional hybrid technology, but generally this X5 is nicely balanced with beautifully weighted steering proving another plus point.
The BMW X5 xDrive45e in M Sport guise is definitely a looker with quite aggressive, muscular styling and bold design cues. It shows off all the company’s latest design initiatives, including that huge black front grille that has been met with mixed feelings by BMW fans and critics alike.
Being the M Sport version, it boasts more dynamic styling and the optional M Sport Pro Pack added 21-inch wheels with run-flat tyres, sun protection glass, M seat belts and a number of other distinctive features.
There are sweeping light clusters, twin tail pipes, some discreet M badging and blue brake calipers to complete the dynamic appearance.
Step inside the five-door SUV and you are greeted by a thoroughly modern cockpit and a cabin featuring designer perforated leather upholstery. There are soft-touch surfaces at every turn, along with attractive decorative trimmings and ambient lighting.
Two 12.3-inch screens are the main focal point and there is M badging on the steering wheel, just in case you forget this car is a little bit special. With its elevated seating, the driver benefits from great all-round visibility and all the controls, dials and readouts are ideally positioned for ease of use.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Drivers of all shapes and sizes will be able to quickly find a comfortable driving position inside the BMW X5 PHEV with both the seats and steering wheel offering power adjustment. And the favourite settings can then be saved just in case someone comes along and moves everything.
It is worth taking a minute to take stock of all the technology and creature comforts on offer in the thoroughly modern and driver-focused cockpit.
There are twin 12.3-inch screens spreading two-thirds of the dash. The infotainment screen is the car’s nerve centre and where all the tech is accessed, along with the many vehicle settings that can be adjusted. It boasts sharp graphics and the iDrive controller works as impeccably as ever to navigate the features such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone functions.
Behind the wheel is the second screen and this supplies vital driving data as well as information about charge levels and EV driving range.
As is the way these days, there is a wealth of remote services that can be accessed via a smartphone and special mention too for the separate panel where the climate control settings can be adjusted with minimal distraction from the road ahead.
Our test car featured an optional Technology Pack that added £1,695 to the cost and introduced a head-up display, Harman Kardon loudspeaker surround sound system and gesture control. This function allows the driver to adjust the music volume, accept or decline a phone call and much more by simply making the appropriate gesture near the touchscreen. It’s a bit hit and miss at first, but becomes second nature after a while.
Space & Practicality
The BMW X5 is large on the outside and big on space on the inside too with room for a couple of six footers to stretch out up front and a trio of adults to sit comfortably in the back – provided the front seats are not pushed right back.
The plug-in hybrid version is not available with seven seats unlike some X5 models, but the boot space is almost as large as on the standard car with a capacity of 500 litres (compared to 550 litres on ICE versions). Drop the split-folding rear seats and that limit increases to 1,720 litres (1,770 on other X5 models).
The boot is accessed via a powered spilt tailgate. This is handy if you fancy taking a coffee break as you can perch on the lower section of the tailgate. It’s also practical to sit on to remove muddy boots after a trek.
Elsewhere there are plenty of handy storage compartments scattered throughout the X5, including a lockable glovebox, a large central cubby beneath the front armrest, front and rear cup holders, deep door bins and pockets in the back of the front seats.
With its xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive system this X5 will be prepared for any of Mother Nature’s mood swings and, with active families in mind, it can tow a caravan or trailer weighing up to 2.7 tonnes.
The car’s battery takes about five hours to fully charge from a 7.4kW home wallbox.
Although the X5 with plug-in hybrid technology could never be described as cheap, it is very competitively priced for a premium model that is packed to such a high standard with all the latest technology.
Our test car, in M Sport guise, was priced at £69,915 although a number of optional extras and some additional packs saw the final price-tag creep up to £75,885.
According to official figures, under WLTP testing, our X5 PHEV could deliver a combined 201.8-235.4 with carbon emissions from 27g/km.
Clearly this sort of fuel efficiency would only be realistically achieved if the car spent most of its driving miles in EV-only mode and it was regularly charged.
However, the low CO2 figure does bring with it interesting financial rewards.
For example, the first-year road tax fee (or Vehicle Excise Duty to give it its official title) would be just £10 and then increase to the standard fee of £155 after 12 months.
For business owners, the Benefit in Kind tax rating is an attractive seven per cent.
But unfortunately, there is added expense to factor in because owners of vehicles with a list price above £40k pay a £325 supplement for five years. After five-years, the car is taxed at the applicable standard rate.
Insurance costs will be hefty too as the car sits in group 46.
Quality & Reliability
BMW always designs sturdy vehicles that are built to survive the test of time and the X5 should be a dependable vehicle to own and run.
However, the Bavarian carmaker has dropped down the customer satisfaction tables in recent years, which is a concern. But the powertrain, hybrid technology and transmission should all prove durable and problem-free in the long run.
The tried and tested intelligent all-wheel drive system is very reliable and towing a caravan or horsebox across boggy terrain shouldn’t pose any issues at all.
The interior looks and feels very upmarket in its styling and layout with a good mix of robust, hard wearing materials, complemented by fine leather upholstery and neat decorative trimmings.
And for added peace of mind the BMW X5 comes with a comprehensive three-year, unlimited mileage warranty. The battery has a six-year/60,000-mile warranty which is not that great compared to some rival manufacturers.
Safety & Security
As one would expect, the BMW X5 PHEV is a very safe car with the traditionally powered model gaining a maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.
There is autonomous emergency braking – a system that alerts the driver if it detects a pedestrian, cyclist or another vehicle in the car’s path. It then brakes automatically if the warnings are ignored.
Other features include traction control, adaptive LED headlights, a driver fatigue alert, run flat tyres, tyre pressure sensors, dynamic stability control, cornering brake control, cruise control, Isofix child seat anchor points, remote locking, anti-lock brakes and a full suite of airbags.
Our test car featured a Visibility Pack that added BMW Laserlights costing £1,350. These offer improved long-distance visibility making driving at night much safer.
In addition, M Sport braking and Dynamic Safety were introduced as part of an M Sport Pro Pack costing a further £1,900 and that also added some M Sport-specific styling cues.
To keep intruders away, the BMW X5 PHEV is protected by a top-quality alarm and immobiliser.
The BMW X5 xDrive45e is one of the most impressive plug-in hybrid SUVs on the market. It drives beautifully, is well equipped, economical to run (if you have a short commute) and is competitively priced. Quite the all-rounder.