BMW Australia has announced the pricing for its first hybrid vehicle, the 5 Series-based ActiveHybrid 5, ahead of the car’s local public debut at the GreenZone Drive low-emission vehicle promotional event on Queensland’s Gold Coast today.
At $122,900, the ActiveHybrid 5 arrives at a $7300 premium over the closely related $115,600 535i.
The petrol-electric BMW – the first of three hybrid models from the Munich car-maker to be launched in Australia between now and the first quarter of 2013 – is $1000 dearer than the most expensive of three hybrid Lexus GS450h variants, the $121,900 Sports Luxury, and $23,000 more expensive than the upcoming Infiniti M35h GT ($99,900).
The ActiveHybrid 5 is not due in Australian showrooms until October, but two of the vehicles have been imported to demonstrate the technology to early adopters, starting at the four-day GreenZone event at the Royal Pines Resort.
The company expects to shift only about 20 of the hybrid units in Australia this year, saying it will be only a niche model in the middle of the 5 Series range.
BMW Australia head of public relations and corporate communications Piers Scott told GoAuto that the company expected its 3 Series hybrid, the ActiveHybrid 3, to be its biggest-selling petrol-electric car once it arrived late in the year.
From top: BMW ActiveHybrid 5; Lexus M35h; Audi A6 Hybrid; Lexus GS450h; Mercedes-Benz E300 BlueTEC Hybrid.
He said the ActiveHybrid 3 would become the flagship 3 Series model, not only offering thrifty fuel economy but the best performance – a factor that was expected to draw plenty of attention.
BMW claims the ActiveHybrid 3 can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in just 5.5 seconds, making it the quickest mass-produced hybrid sedan to date.
The ActiveHybrid 5’s 0-100km/h sprint is said to take 5.9 seconds, which is faster than the BMW 535i (6.1 seconds) but not as fast as the diesel 535d (5.5 seconds).
Compared with its main rivals to date, the ActiveHybrid 5 completes the sprint in the same time as the Lexus GS450h, but is slower than the Infiniti M35h’s 5.5 seconds.
Despite its green credentials and premium price, BMW’s mid-size hybrid is not the most efficient 5 Series model, being out-pointed by diesel variants such as the diesel 520d (4.9L/100km) and six-cylinder 535d (6.1L/100km)
The ActiveHybrid 5 fuel economy depends on which wheel and tyre package the buyer chooses, with low-rolling-resistance tyres yielding 6.4L/100km, while the wider, softer tyres designed for higher performance delivering 7.0L/100km. Carbon dioxide emissions range from 149 grams per kilometre to 163g/km.
In the fuel efficiency stakes, the BMW is pipped by the Lexus hybrid, which gets 6.3L/100km on the combined test cycle since it was updated earlier this year. Official Lexus CO2 emissions are 145g/km.
The Infiniti M35h manages at 6.9L/100km and 159g/km.
Audi also has a hybrid version of its A6 in the pipeline for a late 2012 launch in Australia, while fellow German car-maker Mercedes-Benz is still to say if it will bring in its hybrid, the super-efficient E300 BlueTEC Hybrid that has just gone on sale in Europe.
The BMW hybrid range will be rounded out in the first quarter of next year with the arrival of the ActiveHybrid 7, as part of the facelifted 7 Series range that will hit Australia late this year with standard petrol and diesel variants.
From 2013, the hybrid models will be joined by the full-electric BMW i3 and plug-in hybrid i8.
BMW’s hybrid powertrain matches a turbocharged 225kW/400Nm TwinPower 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine with a 40kW electric motor for a total peak power of 250kW and 450Nm.
The petrol-electric powertrain drives the rear wheels via an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.
The powertrain is equipped with a coasting mode that decouples the engine and electric motor to allow the car to glide down the highway with the engine stopped.
As well, the engine has idle-stop, along with an all-electric mode that allows the driver to drive for a short distance only on battery power.
The lithium-ion battery is stored under the boot, reducing luggage capacity from 520 litres to 375 litres.
The ActiveHybrid 5 has a similar level of equipment as the 535i, with features including bi-Xenon headlights, Bluetooth phone connectivity, head-up display, internet function and sat-nav.
However, the ActiveHybrid 5 also gets four-zone climate-control air-conditioning, along with an extra, exclusive pale blue metallic paint called Liquid Blue.
The ActiveHybrid 5 is also differentiated from other models by ActiveHybrid 5 lettering on the C-pillars, galvanised slats in the BMW kidney grille, matt chrome exhaust tailpipes and 18-inch Streamline light-alloy wheels.
BMW Group Australia managing director Phil Horton said the BMW ActiveHybrid models showcased the latest fuel saving technology without sacrificing the power and driving dynamics synonymous with “the Ultimate Driving Machine”.
“The EfficientDynamics strategy is the foundation of everything we do, and the ActiveHybrid models represent the next step towards zero emission motoring,” he said.
“The arrival of these new ActiveHybrid models, starting with the ActiveHybrid 5, demonstrates BMW’s commitment to, and progress towards, the future of sustainable mobility.”