SUV practicality meets sophistication, performance and low emissions in new X5 PHEV.
SUV practicality meets sophistication, performance and low emissions in new X5 PHEV.
Image: Supplied

If your SUV tastes extend to practicality with strong environmentalism in the mix then BMW’s new X5 PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) is a vehicle that’s about to blow your socks off.

Driving the newest addition to the X5 range at its international launch in Germany recently, it presents a roomy cabin with a 2,975mm of wheelbase and a sizeable 500l to 1,720l luggage compartment. The rest of the surroundings are pure X5 save for the new bundle of eco buttons to be pressed beside the stubby gear lever.

It now wields a turbocharged 3.0l straight-six engine instead of a four-cylinder in the initial model. It’s every bit the sonorous motor we know.

In PHEV application it develops 210kW and 450Nm and the BMW eDrive electric motor contributes 83kW and 263Nm to the powder keg. This gives the xDrive45e model a total system output of 290kW and 600Nm sent permanently to all four wheels via a slick and intuitive eight-speed automatic gearbox.

It’s claimed to be good for 5.6 seconds from 0-100km/h and a top speed of 250km/h — decent numbers indeed for a 2.4-ton SUV.   

There’s also a refined compliance to its ride quality on the twisty stuff given the added electric drive components it lugs around. It shrugs off its girth with fantastic steering accuracy when threading it through even the narrowest of Teutonic farm roads and throttle response and agility that belies size. It’s without a doubt one of the liveliest and sharpest hybrids I’ve ever encountered.

With that said, you can tailor it for a number of settings, such as mild driving autonomy using the latest self-driving technology from the Bavarian brand while you can also call up hybrid mode where both the petrol and electric motors silently work together in harmony to power the car while recharging the batteries.

Or you can select Sport mode where the priority changes with both the booming petrol motor and its silent electric partner are firing on all cylinders to get the xDrive45e hurtling through the Autobahn. Select EV mode at regular speeds and it shuts up immediately. BMW reckons a full charge gives it 100km of pure electric range. Top speed in this mode is also 135km/h.

Lithium-ion batteries under the floor are recharged on the move by its energy recuperation systems, or you can charge from a wall box. The astonishing aspect is that you can unleash it in the rurals just as I did, and arrive in the city still brandishing over 60km of usable electric driving range.

This particular trait not only makes an attractive PHEV out of the X5 xDrive45e but it’s also the most practical idea for future mobility solutions thus far, as hybrids address both environmental credentials and range anxiety.

Expect local introduction of the new X5 PHEV during the first quarter of 2020. Pricing is R1,305,000 for the xLine and R1,343,300 for the M Sport.