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Richard Berry road tests and reviews the 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.
Do you know why we haven't walked on the moon since Christmas, 1972? No deadline, that's why. “Oh the moon's not going away we can go there whenever...” you say. Wrong! Just like this road test, nothing happens without deadlines, including the small steps to save the world like BMW's first plug-in hybrid SUV, the X5 xDrive40e.
At the launch of the X5 xDrive40e in April this year BMW's executives freely admitted that without this hybrid and others like the 330e sedan there'd be no way they could meet the hard-core emission target Europe will bring in for carmakers. The emission deadline: The year 2020. Fail and they'll be fined, heavily. That's how things get done. And that's why you can now gorge yourself on a big, fat 2.2 tonne luxury SUV that can glide silently to work and back on electricity. Sure the electric power runs out after 30km but don't most of us live within 15 kays of where we work? That's what the Department of Infrastructure says.
There's only one grade of xDrive40e, it sits towards the top of the X5 line-up and it's a match in price and specs for its xDrive40d diesel brother. That emission deadline doesn't just have Bimmer under the pump, Mercedes-Benz has just launched its hybrid rival to xDrive40e, the GLE 500e and Audi has its Q7 e-tron on the way.
|BMW X Models 2016: X5 M|
|Engine Type||4.4L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Aside from some tiny eDrive badges and the flap at the front for filling up with electricity, the xDrive40e is identical in looks inside and out to the X5 xDrive40d.
Like all X5s the xDrive40e is 4886mm end to end, which makes it 67mm longer than the GLE 500e. To put that in perspective a Commodore sedan is another 80mm longer at 4966mm. But it's the width and height which makes the X5 the car equivalent of a woolly mammoth – 2184mm across and 1762mm tall.
Its pretty-but-tough looks have aged well.
Ground clearance is 209mm and if you're keen the wading depth is 500mm.
The third generation X5 arrived in 2013 and its pretty-but-tough looks have aged well. Inside is the familiar BMW cabin landscape of the slab-like dash with orange LCD climate controls and display screen, plus comfortable and supportive seating.
At 2230kg it's 120kg heavier than the diesel X5 because it's carrying a stack of batteries and an electric motor, along with all the accompanying cabling.
Those batteries live under the boot floor and they do eat into your cargo space but only by 50 litres. Also the floor itself is 40mm higher than in a regular X5. It's no biggie, we could still fit the CarsGuide pram in there plus two shoulder bags, a sports bag and there was gallons of room left over.
There's five seats but not as much legroom in the back as you might expect – I'm 191cm and can just fit my thumb between the front seat back (in my driving position) and my knee.
Storage throughout is great with pockets on the backs of the front seats, holders for two bottles moulded into all doors and two cup holders in front of the gear shifter and two in the back in the fold-down centre armrest.
Practicality should be a strength of an SUV, but rear passenger doors which don't open wide enough are a bit disappointing.
The X5's pricing ranges from $86,200 for the front-wheel drive sDrive25d and heads north to $149,900 for the X5 M50d. The xDrive40e matches the $118,900 price of the xDrive40d and just like the diesel comes standard with leather upholstery with aluminium trim, 10.25-inch touchscreen with sat nav, reversing camera and surround view camera, park assist, head-up display, Harman/Kardon sound system active cruise control and 19-inch alloys.
The eight-speed automatic transmission is damned-well superb.
The price of the xDrive40e we tested is $130,400, because it was fitted with the $3300 M Sport Package that gave it 20-inch rims, adaptive M suspension, the M leather steering wheel and M body kit. Another $3700 added the panorama sunroof, which isn't all that panoramic. Adaptive LED headlights cost $2000; then there's lane change warning for $1400 and $1100 for the ceramic surrounds to the media system dial.
For that much money, you'd expect proximity unlocking, which comes standard on a $27K Hyundai i30 SR.
Under the bonnet is a 180kW/350Nm four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, back a bit further near the gear shifter is the 83kW/250Nm electric motor, combined they make 230kW and 450Nm. It's enough grunt to do 0-100km/h in 6.8 seconds. The quickest X5 is the V8 xDrive50i which can smash 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds. Still the hybrid is 0.9 seconds faster than the four-cylinder xDrive25d diesel, so that motor does add considerable shove. The eight-speed automatic transmission is damned-well superb.
This is what it's all about and BMW says fuel consumption should be 3.3L/100km on the combined cycle. That fuel economy is only achievable if you charge the SUV regularly and drive it as efficiently as possible.
You can charge the SUV using the cable that comes free, it plugs straight into a household power point and takes about five hours to charge the batteries fully. A wall unit which can be bought from BMW for $1700 cuts charging time to 2.5 hours. Either way the electricity bill only comes to about $2.
The ride is comfortable, the steering is pinky-finger light and pin-point accurate while the forward visibility is excellent.
There are three hybrid modes – Max eDrive which powers the car on electricity only; Auto eDrive which, switching between the motor and engine or uses both together depending on the how hard the driver step on the accelerator and Save Battery mode, which just uses the engine and charges through regenerative braking.
We charged the batteries only briefly using a power point just to confirm it's as easy as literally plugging into a power point, but for just about the entire time we had it we allowed the car to charge through braking. Driving the xDrive40e in all three modes we saw a fuel mileage of 16.5L/100km after a week of mainly city driving.
As much as I would like to say that I did the 9.8km commute from home to work on just electricity, I didn't. I wasn't able to charge the batteries more than 17 per cent in my daily driving. That said on 17 percent I could get close to work and then travel the last few remaining kilometres just on petrol. It was the hill near my house which drained the juice most rapidly, but the rest of the commute is flat and bumper to bumper with other suckers like me crawling to work at about 15km/h – perfect conditions for xDrive40e.
In the driver's seat it feels almost like any other X5. The ride is comfortable, the steering is pinky-finger light and pin-point accurate while the forward visibility is excellent.
The X5 will flick over automatically from electric motor to petrol engine when the charge runs out and the transition is almost imperceptible. Not so seamless is the handling, the batteries combined with the rear suspension seems to be a recipe for a bit of roll. On one trip I was a passenger in the back seat and wasn't too impressed with how much movement I experienced back there.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
Being almost totally silent in electric-only mode an artificial sound is played to warn people that you're coming through at speeds under 30km/h.
There are three top tether anchor points and two ISOFIX mounts for child seats.
The xDrive40e has a three year/unlimited kilometre warranty and a six year/unlimited battery warranty. Servicing is capped at $1540 for five years/80,000km - and that covers all those annual services. Service intervals are condition based – BMW will let you know when you should come in for a pit stop.
The hybrid technology in the xDrive40e is awesome and it makes so much sense fitting it to an X5, which if we're honest with each other won't leave the city much and will probably sit in a lot of traffic. A big issue is the range – sure most Aussies live close to work, but in real world conditions it's less about range and more about energy needed to move the car. Just climbing a small hill over a short distance in electric only will see your charge drop fast. To get the super low fuel economy you'll need to charge it fully and regularly and fairly flat commuting terrain.
The xDrive40e is just the start of things to come, so we can forgive it for not being perfect. As the 2020 deadline looms the technology will get better and become more common place.
|X1 Sdrive 18D||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$25,600 – 33,880||2016 BMW X Models 2016 X1 Sdrive 18D Pricing and Specs|
|X6 M||4.4L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$70,800 – 89,540||2016 BMW X Models 2016 X6 M Pricing and Specs|
|X1 Xdrive 20D||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$26,300 – 34,870||2016 BMW X Models 2016 X1 Xdrive 20D Pricing and Specs|
|X1 Sdrive 20I||2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$25,300 – 33,550||2016 BMW X Models 2016 X1 Sdrive 20I Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||6|
|Engine & trans||8|
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