We’ve been here before. You see this is the second generation of X5 to benefit from additional battery power to provide a mystifying combination of SUV ruggedness and fuel sipping goodness. So what’s new this time around?
The most important news is in the battery department. Previously the 9 kWh battery provided less than 20 miles of electric range and with a heavy right foot you could get that down to nearer 10 miles, which we didn’t think was enough to cover most people’s day to day journeys. Now BMW has categorically put that to bed by installing a 24 kWh battery pack which is officially capable of 54 miles. The massive boost in electric range also means that the official fuel consumption goes from 85 mpg to 235 mpg.
Another happy bi-product of the bigger battery is an improvement in straight line performance with a full 1.2 seconds taken off the 0-62 mph sprint and top speed now nudging 150 mph. Yes it is both quicker and more frugal. All that extra performance is supported by xDrive all-wheel-drive which is active in electric, petrol only, and hybrid running, as the electric motor runs through the eight-speed Steptronic auto gearbox.
Cleverly the X5 is able to swallow the additional battery capacity with minimal downsides. The boot is 50 litres smaller than the conventional models but it still offers 500 litres of space with the seats up. If you need more, dropping the seats liberates 1,720 litres. The only other concession is a slightly smaller petrol tank (69 litres rather than 75 litres).
When you do need to call on petrol power you get the excellent 3-litre in line six-cylinder TwinPower Turbo which has been optimised to work with the hybrid system. Of course if you do rely solely on petrol power fuel consumption will suffer but with 50 miles of electric running on offer there is now little excuse to lean on petrol power on a regular basis.
Like all plug-in hybrids the X5 is at its best in electric mode, but where the BMW system really impresses is how good it is in hybrid running. Most of the time it seamlessly shuffles power between the electric motor and petrol engine and with both feeding through the AWD system, there’s no difference in how the power is deployed, which builds confidence.
The X5 has always been an impressive SUV but the first generation plug-in hybrid fell short, quite literally, thanks to delivering less than 20 miles of electric running. Now with over 50 miles possible the X5 is a very strong package, delivering looks, ability, and more driver involvement than rivals.
Estimated real world range: 40 – 54 miles
Official range: 50 – 54 miles
Official electricity consumption: 239 – 259 Wh/km
Battery pack: 24 kWh (gross); 21.58 kWh (net) lithium ion; 8 year / 100,000 mile warranty
Recharge time: 240v 10 hours 36 minutes; 3.7 kW charge 6 hours 48 minutes