X5 PHEV behemoth helps save on super-high fuel costs
March 19, 2017 01:00 By Kingsley Wijayasinha 3,558 Viewed
BMW’s mammoth plug-in hybrid SUV isn’t something you’d want to make quick moves in, but it comes loaded with safety/assistance systems, has great straight-line, sports car performance with a ride quality that isn’t bad, and allows you the advantage to go all-electric in heavy city traffic
BMW has been so keen to offer plug-in hybrid technology in Thailand that the German automaker has even started assembling PHEVs like the X5 at its factory in Rayong.
I have just returned from driving the X5 xDrive40e M Sport, which is an imported CBU version priced at Bt5.399 million. The locally assembled model is priced at Bt4.699 million, and is now the only X5 PHEV model offered here.
The X5 is a highly popular SUV (BMW calls it a “SAV”) from the luxury segment that can be spotted daily on the road. It is large (yes, if you’re in a car behind the X5 you can be sure your whole view out front will be blocked) and offers plenty of space plus, naturally, BMW-style performance.
But the downside of driving such a large and heavy vehicle (it weighs over two tonnes, mind you) is the fuel consumption that usually matches supercar levels. In fact, BMW doesn’t even offer normal X5 petrol variants for the Thai market – there’s just the PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) and two diesel models that are priced significantly lower, starting at Bt4.599 million.
So to lower the mammoth X5’s appetite, a hybrid version has been the main solution, and being the first PHEV from BMW, you can bet the X5 xDrive40e doesn’t disappoint.
The 9kWh battery can be fully charged in about four hours, but with a BMW i Wallbox, the time is reduced to below three hours to recharge an empty battery.
Sure, the battery doesn’t hold enough for long drives, but switching to EV mode when you are caught in city traffic is a great idea. First of all there’s no engine sound and the cabin becomes dead silent. The air-conditioner still works and there is zero emission. Top speed in electric mode is 120km/h but, make no mistake, if you remain at high speeds for too long you’ll drain the battery in no time.
Normally, the turbocharged 2.0-litre direct-injection 4-cylinder petrol engine does produce enough power and torque (245hp and 350Nm) to get the fully equipped X5 around. But paired with the electric motor, they offer a combined 313hp and 450Nm, giving the 2.3-tonne behemoth sports car performance.
Acceleration from 0-100km/h takes 6.8 seconds and the top speed is limited to 210km/h (they say this SUV can theoretically break 240km/h).
And when driving economically, the engine and the electric motor team up to provide high efficiency, boasting consumption of 31.3km/litre (BMW’s claimed fuel economy). The carbon dioxide emission is also super low, at 76g/km.
While straight-line performance is great, the ride quality isn’t bad either. Despite the low-profile tyres, the X5’s ride is supple at low speeds, the suspension being able to absorb shock and vibration well. There is an “Adaptive M” suspension, but still this isn’t a vehicle you want to make quick moves with. Furthermore, it has permanent all-wheel-drive and provides good traction in a variety of conditions.
The X5 has loads of interior space, and the 500-litre luggage compartment can be increased to 1,720 litres with the rear seat backrest folded. And need you ask, this Beemer’s interior design and materials are indubitably premium, offering excellent touch and feel.
You get a long list of features, including a 10.25-inch screen with all-around view, an infotainment system, Harman Kardon audio, an i-Drive controller BMW Live function, 4-zone climate control, powered tail gate, smart entry, panoramic sunroof, and more.
In terms of safety, there are airbags front and rear, intelligent LED headlights with an automatic high-beam function, and an interesting medley of driver-assistance systems.
The M Sport package includes a body kit as well as multi-function “M Steering” with paddle shift and several other details.
Undoubtedly, the BMW X5 xDrive40e is the answer to having a large SUV that’s fully loaded with features but without having to pay super-high fuel costs, thanks to the PHEV technology. The introduction of the locally assembled model will also make it more affordable, and help expand the vehicle’s customer base in Thailand.