BMW are very dynamic with hybrid and electric technology, spawning two distinct brands, the i and the Active. The i brand is currently pure electric with engines optionally available purely to recharge the batteries, whilst the Active range is for plug-in hybrids.
The PHEV Range
This 313bhp, 2.0-litre engined SUV operates in permanent four-wheel drive mode, even under all-electric power. Using an eight-speed Steptronic transmission, the X5 gets from 0 to 62mph in just 6.8 seconds, whilst returning a claimed 85.6mpg, with a CO2 emissions figure of 78g/km. The 37 mile electric-only range helps, which is a full 15% further that Mitsubishi’s Outlander. This helps towards the low CO2 emissions of 77g/km.
Whilst the top speed is limited to 130mph, the X5 can also reach 75mph on electric-only power, thus being ideal for short motorway commutes.
Use the 85-litre fuel tank to full effect and long journeys see economy drop to 25.7mpg, but then remember that this is a performance, luxury SUV with a 2.0 litre, 245bhp engine. With this fuel consumption, expect a cruising range of up to 480 miles.
The i Range
This car is included for completion, as it is a very popular and respected model. But it does not fulfil the criteria of this web site, as the mileage range is very restrictive.
As an electric car, the i3 has a range of only 100 miles tops. The range extender version is spoilt by having a fuel tank of only 9 litres, extending the total range by no more than another 100 miles. That’s the maximum you can get, at around town speeds. Get onto the motorways and the range will collapse. I can see BMW’s logic behind this poor range, which I believe is to deliberately reduce the customer interest and so reduce the sales. That way, any issues found will affect a much narrower set of buyers and so adverse comments will be reduced. I expect to see a much more sensible 25+ litre fuel tank in the next generation.
As an over £100,000 super-sports car, this should not be expected to be a better every-day proposition than the i3. But it is. With a 23 mile electric-only range and a 30 litre fuel tank, this provides a sensible 200 mile range, whereas BMW claim 273.
Future PHEV range:
On sale from March 2016, the new 225xe Active Tourer PHEV will be available in two trim levels:Sport and Luxury.
The 225xe has a transversely mounted three-cylinder petrol engine up front, driving the front wheels. The combined power and torque figures are 224 hp and 385 Nm. These figures provide a 0 to 62 mph time of 6.7 seconds and a tops speed of 126, limited to 78 mph in electric-only mode.
The claimed combined fuel consumption is given as 141.2mpg with Co2 emissions figures being 46 g/km. This indicates a reasonable electric only range, probably of over 30 miles.
On sale from April, 2016, but can be ordered now, the330e will come in three trim levels:SE, Sport and M Sport .
The official combined fuel consumption is 148.7mpg, with CO2 emissions being 44g/km. The electric-only range is slightly disappointing at approximately 25 miles.
The new sixth generation of the BMW 7 Series will have a couple of plug-in variants to follow, in the summer of 2016. Expect prices in excess of £70,000. The ‘base’ 740e will have a standard wheelbase and will be rear-wheel drive, whilst the740Le xDrive will come with the long wheelbase and four-wheel drive.
With a 600 mile range and 44mpg, the ActiveHybrid 5 is certainly a feasible car to own, but the real-world economy could see a real range of only half that! Furthermore, the handling and refinement is compromised.
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