2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e Review

We road test and review the new plug-in BMW X5

2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e Review

BMW are becoming more electrified by the day. Of course they already build the impressive i3 and the i8 supercar, but now their two best selling models have been given the electric treatment.

We’ve had the keys to the BMW X5 xDrive40e, the first plug-in hybrid version of BMW’s hugely popular SUV.

On the surface it looks identical to every other X5, the only giveaway is the badge on the back and a flap on the front guard that opens to reveal an electric charge point.

Plug in the BMW X5 xDrive40e to any household electricity socket and five hours later you’ve got a full charge.

BMW claim that charge will propel you under electric power alone for a distance of 31km.

In the week the X5 xDrive40e was in the Behind the Wheel garage, the best we could muster was about 23km.

Once the charge is depleted the 2.0 litre twin turbo 4-cylinder takes over, the battery will continue to charge itself via the kinetic energy generated under braking, but it doesn’t add an awful lot to the game.

Expect a big shove in the back when you hit the accelerator in X5 xDrive40e.

If you’re in Sport mode the X5 employs the 180kW turbo four cylinder with the electric motor for a combined total and 230kW and 450Nm and an impressive sprint to 100km/h in just 6.8 seconds.

Even in comfort mode it’s puchy with all of the available electric power available immediately…the petrol engine will only kick in if you really floor it.

In fact, the way the X5 switches between the two power sources is seamless.

In most cases if it wasn’t for the display, you’d be hard pressed to pick whether it’s the petrol or the electric engine doing the driving.

The obvious benefit, apart from the added power, is fuel economy.

BMW claim a combined total of 3.3 litres of premium unleaded per 100km. If you’re only travelling short distances and keep the car plugged in whenever it’s stationary, that figure is easily achievable.

If you keep distances down to under 25km the petrol engine never needs to kick in at all.

If however you’re travelling longer distances, once the charge is gone, you’re left with the 2.0 litre turbo 4-cylinder hauling around 2980kgs, and consumption sky rockets.

We averaged around 10.2 litres per 100km in those conditions.

So the question must be, is the $118,855 sticker price worth paying when you can buy the brilliant 3.0 litre turbo diesel version of the same car for $102,855, or even the less powerful entry level diesel for $86,155.

Until battery technology improves and a greater range under electric power alone increases considerably, I think at this stage the answer has to be no.

Unless you’re primarily a city commuter travelling less than 30kms a day, the BMW X5 xDrive40e is far thirstier than the 3.0 litre turbo diesel (6.2 litres per 100km) or the frugal 2.0 litre diesel (5.5 litres per 100km).

If however you consider yourself an early adopter, or are keen for the thrill of electric drive then the BMW X5 xDrive40e may well be for you.

It’s luxurious, handsome and genuinely entertaining to drive…and if you can justify the extra cost, you’d be hard pressed to find a better example of this technology.

NUTS and BOLTS - 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e

Engine: 2.0 litre turbo-petrol producing 180kW and 350Nm/electric motor developing 83kW

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Warranty: 3yrs and 6yrs/100,000 km on the High Voltage battery

Safety: Not tested

Origin: United States

Price: from $118,855

About Chris Miller 486 Articles
Chris is a writer, co-host of the Behind the Wheel podcast and a self declared car tragic . He is a radio broadcaster by trade and reports traffic for 774 ABC Melbourne, FOX FM and Smooth FM. He also presents a national traffic report on ABC News Radio.

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