Car review – BMW X5 45e xDrive

From really good to excellent

BMW gives this second-generation plug-in hybrid X5 six cylinders instead of four, extends the electric range from 31 to 86 kilometres and makes its bestselling PHEV even faster and more powerful.


From four to six

In the 45e, the four-cylinder from the 40e has been replaced by a 3.0-litre inline-six engine giving 286 hp, while the electric engine now delivers 133 hp. The combined system power increases in the newcomer to 394 hp and 600 Nm.

Impressive, especially when you know that standard consumption, thanks to the 24 kWh battery, is limited to 1.7 to 2 l/100 km (or 39 to 47 g CO2/km), making this – fiscally speaking – a ‘true’ plug-in that combines a tax deductibility of 97% to 100% with a low benefit in kind.


Energy efficient (if used correctly)

Although the official consumption is unrealistic here too, we were surprised by how little petrol this 2.5-ton SUV burnt during our test drive: it didn’t go over 6.3 l/100 km. If you steer clear of motorways, it can even end up being a lot less, provided you charge the battery whenever you get the chance.

The electric consumption is then around 30 kWh/100 km. This means that the promised 86 km is a utopia. Driving in a controlled manner, it is certainly possible to cover 60 km on electricity, including a big stretch on the motorway.

Using a domestic socket, it takes 7 hours to fully charge from empty, but even with a wallbox it doesn’t charge super fast due to its charging capacity being limited to 3.7 kW.


Fantastic petrol-electric combo

The petrol and electric motors work together perfectly. While it is absolutely silent when you’re in electric mode, the six-cylinder is also discreet, but no less musical. Switching from electric to petrol is smooth and automatic, but you can also choose to only use electric via the ‘electric’ button in the centre console. 

Not lightweight, but still fast

At 2,230 kg, its predecessor was not lightweight, and with its larger battery and two extra cylinders, this X5 is another 300 kilos heavier. But these extra kilos don’t stop it accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.6 seconds. The eight-speed automatic transmission ensures smooth gear changes and never hesitates between two gears, making overtaking quick and easy.  

The air suspension and electronically controlled dampers provide a remarkably comfortable drive, even with the M Sport package’s large wheels. With the battery stored under the boot, adding a third row of seats is not an option, but 500 litres is still decent in terms of cargo capacity. Both in the front and the back there is lots of room, and the comfort seats are definitely worth adding as an extra. The list of optional features is endless and really covers everything you could possibly want. 

The combination of performance, comfort, space and energy efficiency makes this X5 45e xDrive an excellent SUV, albeit attracting a limited clientele due to its high price tag. Compared to the first plug-in hybrid X5, this has become a more homogeneous and even better car to drive. Mission accomplished.

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    + Perfect balance of petrol and electric

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    + Very low consumption possible

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    + Performance and electric range

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    -High price tag, lots of expensive options -Somewhat awkward dimensions