Car review – BMW 545e xDrive

GT with a conscience

For those who feel that a four-cylinder lacks oomph and refinement but are not blind to fiscal and ecological optimisation, there is now the BMW 545e xDrive, a plug-in-hybrid GT with a six-cylinder petrol engine.


Small update, big impact

In the autumn of 2020, BMW updated the nose of the 5-Series. You can recognise it by the slightly enlarged and lowered kidneys and new light signatures for the headlights. Nothing earth-shattering, but that is a good BMW habit.

Underneath the skin there is much more going on. The dashboard underwent a digital revolution with the introduction of BMW's Operating System 7. The role of this OS7 cannot be underestimated in the context of intelligent cloud-based navigation in favour of the plug-in hybrid drive. 


Addictive soundtrack

Today, BMW’s 5 Series no longer has just one, but two PHEVs on offer. The 4-cylinder 530e gets the company of an electrified six-in-line carried over from the BMW X5 xDrive45e and 745e. That means 285 PS and 450 Nm of thermal power and torque, supplemented by 109 electric horses and 265 instantaneous Newton metres for a system output of 394 hp and a total of 600 Nm.

Thanks in part to the optimised eight-speed automatic transmission, which is still unrivalled in its proactivity, shifting speed and smoothness, 4.7 seconds is enough to reach 100 kph. This new pluggable 5 offers a constant push as you tap into the electric and thermal horsepower, seasoned with a particularly addictive soundtrack. It almost makes you forget that the idea is to drive electric too.


Intelligent recuperation

The battery of the 545e is the same size as that of the 530e, namely 12 kWh (gross). The electric motor itself is not more powerful either, but those who are able to resist the temptation to constantly floor the accelerator can accelerate to 140 km/h without waking up the six-cylinder. BMW claims an electric driving range of 54 to 57 km according to the WLTP cycle, depending on the chosen equipment. 

When you activate the navigation, the 545e proactively recovers braking energy, taking into account bends, inclines, roundabouts, intersections and so on - as well as the maximum speed allowed. Say you need to turn right in 300 metres. You take your foot off the accelerator and the car recovers maximum braking energy until you reach the ideal speed for the turn. If you drive down a slope and approach a town, it maintains the maximum permitted speed (with a margin of 10 km/h) by alternately recuperating and coasting. Just brilliant.

Mind those options

The 545e xDrive belongs to the club of "real" plug-in hybrids, but it does flirt with the 50 g/km limit. Before you tick the M Sport package and other CO2-increasing bells and whistles on the order form, make sure your car does not exceed this limit - you would not want to pay the tax difference.

Apart from that, the price supplement of the 545e compared to the 530e is pretty steep, while it does not come with any extra kit as standard. The 530e also has a trump card: it is available as a Touring. The 545e is not. 

This 545e combines tantalising performance with a delightful soundtrack, but it can also drive as ecologically as any other PHEV. It costs quite a bit more than the 530e, but sensorily, the added value is undeniable.

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    + Eco and sport in one

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    + Fantastic six-cylinder engine

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    + Intelligent energy management

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    - Not available as a Touring - Price supplement over the 530e