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BMW'S X5 plug-in finally a reality

Plug and play: BMW's X5 xDrive40e uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder TwinPower petrol engine matched with an electric motor for a total output of 230kW.

Plug-in hybrid version of BMW's X5 looks set for Aussie debut early next year


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16 Mar 2015

BMW will join competitors Audi and Volvo offering a plug-in hybrid family-sized SUV, following confirmation of the X5 xDrive40e that is likely to find its way into Australian showrooms next year.

An electrified version of the X5 has been in the works for some time, with the German car-maker signalling its intentions back in 2013 at the Frankfurt motor show, with the Concept X5 eDrive.

While BMW is yet to confirm more plug-in hybrid models, it is believed the company is developing a range of electrified versions of its core models, such as the 3 Series, to sit alongside its 'i' branded electric and PHEV i3 and i8 and its mild hybrid variants.

BMW Group Australia corporate communications general manager Lenore Fletcher told GoAuto that the local arm was “looking at” the electrified X5, with a view to launching it in 2016.

“We think that we would like to have it in Australia,” she said. “We're currently going through the process of trying to understand what the pricing and specification might be.

“It's still a fair way off, we wouldn’t see it this year. I would suggest early next year. But it is definitely a vehicle that we are interested in.”

While BMW's first plug-in hybrid SUV looks all but certain here early next year, it will be beaten to market by Volvo's XC90 PHEV that will go on sale before the end of the year, while Audi's Q7 e-tron has similar timing and is expected to lob early next year.

The powertain matches a 180kW/350Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine featuring BMW's TwinPower turbo technology with a 15.4kWh electric motor for combined power of 230kW.

BMW says this gives the X5 an officially European combined fuel rating of 3.3-3.4 litres per 100 kilometres and carbon dioxide emissions of 77-78grams per kilometre. The fuel use figure betters that of the 2013 concept that was rated at 3.8L/100km.

The eDrive40e's fuel figure is higher than its forthcoming rivals, with the Swedish-built XC90 capable of 2.5L/100km, while the diesel-electric Q7 e-tron is the most frugal with 1.7L/100km.

A lithium-ion battery powers the electric motor integrated into the eight-speed Steptronic auto transmission and also provides some power to the low-voltage battery for the 12-volt on-board electrical system.

The X5 can be recharged at home with a regular domestic outlet, at a charging station or via a BMW i Wallbox which is already available for the i8 sportscar and i3 hatch.

The high-voltage battery is housed underneath the luggage compartment, which has impacted cargo space compared with regular petrol and diesel versions.

While a standard X5 offers between 650-1870 litres, the plug-in version can carry 500-1720 litres.

An eDrive button allows drivers to switch between modes such as Auto eDrive – the basic setting – and is used for extra power when accelerating, while Max eDrive uses electric power only for zero emission driving up to 120km/h. In this mode the X5 offers an electric-only range of 31km which is bettered by the Volvo (40km) and the Audi (56km).

The Save Battery setting uses regenerative energy to charge the battery and the X5 also offers different driving modes including Comfort, Sport and Eco Pro which are available to use with all of the eDrive settings.

The all-wheel drive SUV can dash from 0-100km/h in 6.8 seconds, 0.3 second slower off the mark than the six-cylinder turbo-powered X5 xDrive35i.

Standard specification on the plug-in X5 includes Navigation Professional, an auxiliary heating and ventilation system that can be activated remotely, the Adaptive Suspension Package Comfort with rear air suspension and Dynamic Damper Control.

BMW says that “practically all the optional extras offered for the BMW X5” are also available for the PHEV version, with ConnectedDrive driver assistance and connectivity features as either standard or optional.

This also includes styling packages such as the Design Pure Experience, Pure Excellence and M Sport packages as well as bespoke items from BMW Individual.

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