BMW X5 40e Hybrid Review
The BMW X5 has long been a popular premium SUV as an alternative to the likes of the Mercedes ML (now GLE), Audi Q7, and perhaps even the Range Rover Sport, despite the fact the former vehicles are very much soft-roaders at best with no real off-road credentials to compete with the Range Rover. That being said, the X5 has always been popular, whether it be on the morning-run or motoring up and down the M3/M4 corridor.
As a company car its popularity has decreased over time and no more so than of late with such a spotlight being shone by the government on high co2 emitting diesels rendering it an expensive company car in P11d terms.
All is not lost though, the company car driver with a hankering for an SUV but not wanting to take a hammering on their P11d liability has perhaps had their prayers answered in the form of the BMW X5 Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), along with the likes of the T8 Hybrid XC90.
To look at, the BMW X5 Hybrid looks exactly the same as its diesel counterparts. Available as an SE or M Sport (on test) the only indication of its green credentials are the extra filler flap on the near side front wing for the mains power, and the eDrive badging here and there.
Thankfully, BMW has not followed the likes of the i3 with quirky styling or eco-friendly but rather ugly interiors. No, this is 100% BMW X5. As with all X5’s it is well appointed with even the SE trim level coming with DAB Radio, Leather Upholstery, Bluetooth Hands Free, 20GB HDD, Cruise Control, Satellite Navigation, Front & Rear Parking Sensors, Heated Front Seats, Powered Upper Tailgate and 18³ Alloy Wheels. The M Sport is further complimented by larger 19³ Alloy Wheels, Adaptive M Suspension, M Sport Bodystyling, Front Sports Seats, and the quicker Sport Auto Transmission.
This trim level can be further topped up with the M Sport Plus Pack (vehicle on test) with even larger 20³ Alloy Wheels, Head Up Display, Harmon/Kardon Sound System, Speed Limit Display and Tinted Rear Windows.
Naturally, being a BMW, there are a whole host of other options available with the vehicle on test having been specified with Panoramic Glass Sunroof, Surround View, Plus Pack, Comfort Seats etc so you can easily make the X5 yours.
Moving on to the more important element, the BMW is meant to be the ultimate driving machine and the X5 is certainly a drivers SUV, but does the hybrid technology bring about too much of a compromise? Has the quest for low CO2 emissions rendered it somewhat impotent? In short, the answer is a definite¦..NO! The 2.0l 198hp power plant, which is supported by a 111hp electric motor means that with a combined 308hp it is relatively rapid for such a big SUV. Official figures suggest the 40e is as quick from 0-62mph as the 30d variant, which is pleasing to know.
However, with regards to fuel economy and real world green credentials, the X5 40e falls rather short. The claimed 83mpg is merely a pipe dream (like the claimed 130+ mpg from the i8 we reviewed here) and with a realistic range of only 19 miles in full EV mode unless you are just driving around town, you will quickly be relying on the 2.0l petrol engine to do everything, which is again where the problems, as with all hybrids, come in. Hauling over 2 tonnes of SUV around with a 4 cylinder petrol engine will result in just one thing. Poor fuel economy. With the battery depleted we were running at around 26mpg, less than a third of the claimed figures. So in real world terms this is not really an environmentally friendly mode of transport, if that is important to you. The X5 hybrid has simply been built to meet the testing guidelines for CO2 emissions in lab style conditions. This means that the P11d liability on such a premium SUV is fractional compared to its diesel counterparts and thus attractive to those driving them. But, and this is a big but, you will be making very good friends with your local filling station and your fleet manager may be a little less friendly with you when they see your fuel bills!
Overall, the BMW X5 is an impressive SUV. Whilst its off-road credentials fall well short of the likes of Land Rover and Range Rover, and its on road handling is distinctly SUV like, the hybridisation of it works from the perspective of the company car driver who wants a premium SUV for the same P11d liability as a much lesser diesel vehicle. But, in all other aspects the BMW X5 40e is a bit lacking and we would certainly suggest plumping for the 30d instead.
Facts & Figures BMW X5 40e M Sport
Engine: 2.0l Petrol Hybrid
Transmission: 8 Speed Automatic
Power: 198hp (Petrol Engine) 111hp Electric Motor
Top Speed: 130mph
Fuel Economy (Combined): 83mpg
CO2 Emissions: 78g/km