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BMW’s X5 goes green


It’s not often that two competitor products enter the local market within a week of one another; however the past two weeks have been an exception.

Recently we have seen two plug-in hybrid SUVs enter South Africa, first, the Volvo XC90 T8 and now the BMW X5 xDrive40e which I had a go in this past week.

It’s a hybrid

The X5 hybrid is very much like the other hybrid vehicles that we have seen on sale in the local market for years. It makes use of a small turbocharged petrol engine that is supplemented by an electric motor. Both the electric powertrain and petrol engine can be used independently or in combination depending on the driving conditions and of course, how much battery life remains.

Going green

The 2.0 litre turbocharged motor produces 180kW/350Nm while the electric motor provides 55kW/250Nm. Combined, the vehicle, according to BMW produces 230kW/450Nm which I can believe, having driven the vehicle with both powertrains active. The acceleration and performance on offer is impressive when both units are working in tandem with the eight speed automatic gearbox. It will get from 0-100km/h in 6.8 seconds, which should keep the budding X5 driver happy.


It is claimed that the new model consumes 3.4–3.3 litres/100 kilometres and a combined electricity consumption of 15.4–15.3 kWh/ 100km while being exempt from CO2 emissions tax. The consumption is impressive. The test route saw journalists drive a total of around 300km throughout the day and by the time we were done, the X5 still had three quarters of a tank of fuel left.

The modes

In terms of the hybrid drive system there are several options the user can engage. The “MAX eDrive” means that the car will run on electric power only, for up to 31km when full charged. You can also activate the “SAVE Battery” which engages the petrol motor only and allows the electric motor to be charged while you drive. There is also “AUTO eDrive” which makes use of both motors to provide as much combined output as possible.

How do I charge the thing?

The battery pack is housed under the luggage compartment of the car and a lithium-ion unit is used. It can be recharged by connecting to any standard domestic power socket or a BMW iWallbox, or the limited number of BMW charging stations around the country. I must warn potential owners that the iWallbox which allows for a three-or-so hour charge will set you back R25 000 while using a standard wall socket, will take up to twelve hours.

Practicality remains?

The loading space has been somewhat compromised, the standard X5 boasts between 650-1870 litres of luggage space while the hybrid model proves between 500–1 720 litres of luggage space. The rest of the interior remains as one would expect from an X5, plus materials, ample space for occupants and very little in the way of Eco regalia. There are a few hints here and there that this is the hybrid X5 however it still remains pretty much a standard X5 inside, which isn’t a bad thing.

What’s it like to drive?

Driving the hybrid is like any other X5 really, despite the fact that it doesn’t make quite the same noise. If anything, it reminded me of how good a product the X5 is. There is an elephant in the room though. The Volvo XC90 T8 which I drove last week has got a few trump cards in response to the X5. The first is the fact that is costs similar money yet offers a bit more. For example, the Volvo can seat seven people whereas the BMW seats five. The Volvo is also faster than the BMW and also doesn’t sacrifice any of its loading space to accommodate the battery pack.


It is admirable what BMW has done with the X5 eDrive hybrid model, however if you have your heart set on an X5, for around R200 000 less you could have the xDrive25d which will have a bigger boot and provide similar real-world consumption.

Pricing (standard model)

BMW X5 xDrive40e R1 097 500

Article written by Sean Nurse
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