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First drive: BMW X5 xDrive45e. Image by BMW AG.

First drive: BMW X5 xDrive45e
BMW overhauls the plug-in hybrid X5 for the Mk4 with a six-cylinder drivetrain and produces a wonderful family SUV.


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BMW X5 xDrive45e

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

BMW's decision to upgrade its X5 plug-in hybrid model from a four-cylinder engine to one configured as a straight-six has worked wonders, because we think this new xDrive45e is now the pick of the fourth-generation SUV's line-up.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW X5 xDrive45e
Pricing: X5 range from 57,640, xDrive45e from 66,675
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six petrol with 83kW electric motor and 20.9kWh (net) lithium-ion battery
Transmission: xDrive all-wheel drive, eight-speed Steptronic automatic
Body style: five-door plug-in hybrid SUV
CO2 emissions: 27-44g/km (VED Band 1-50: 0 first 12 months, then 455 years two-six of ownership, then 135 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 148.7mpg, max electric range 54 miles
Top speed: 147mph (hybrid system), 84mph electric only
0-62mph: 5.6 seconds
Power: petrol 286hp at 5,000-6,000rpm, electric 113hp at 3,170rpm, system maximum 394hp
Torque: petrol 450Nm at 1,500-3,500rpm, electric 265Nm at 0-3,170rpm, system maximum 600Nm
Boot space: 500-1,720 litres

What's this?

The latest addition to BMW's Mk4 X5 range, it's the xDrive45e. That nomenclature means that, yes, this is the much expected plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) version of the one-down-from-flagship SUV from Munich, which has basically gained the drivetrain out of a facelifted 7 Series PHEV - namely, a straight-six 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, augmented by an 83kW (113hp) electric motor and 20.9kWh net lithium-ion battery. Peak outputs of this lot are 394hp and 600Nm, and - in every possible metric that matters, save for weight (more anon) - the 45e surpasses the 40e it supersedes.

It's 1.2 seconds quicker to 62mph from rest than the old four-cylinder X5 PHEV. It's faster flat out by 17mph at 147mph overall, while it'll go quicker in pure electric mode than the old one - 84mph plays the 40e's 75mph. Its CO2 emissions, rated on the tougher WLTP cycle than the previous X5 PHEV's NEDC numbers, drop to 27-44g/km, from 77g/km previously, while its economy (again, WLTP-ratified now) is up to a combined 148.7mpg, when before it was 85.6mpg. Also, with a bigger battery, it will go a claimed 54 miles in zero-emissions silence, which is some hike on 19 miles previously. If it weren't for the fact the 45e was 2,510kg, when the four-pot 40e was around 2.3 tonnes, everything in BMW's PHEV SUV garden would be absolutely rosy.

And there's certainly no problem with the way the X5 xDrive45e looks, because the Mk4 is a handsome thing (part of the reason we simply cannot fathom the appeal of the related X6) and the PHEV is almost indistinguishable from its purely internally combusted relations. Save for the boot badge and the charging port on the front wing, this looks like any other 'G05' X5. Same goes for the lovely cabin, where a few extra hybrid-related displays and a button to control the electric modes are about the only differences to the regular line-up... apart from a slight loss of practicality. The hybrid gear's location eats into boot space to the tune of 150 litres (rear seats up or down), while you can't specify the seven-seat option for obvious reasons; this is a five-seat SUV only, so if you need to get seven into your X5, you'll need to look elsewhere in the range.

Prices for the X5 xDrive45e start at getting on for 67 grand and we get just one specification here in the UK, which is M Sport. Other markets enjoy a slightly less pricey xLine trim on the PHEV.

How does it drive?

Oh, yes! This is much more like it, BMW. While the old X5 xDrive40e was technically impressive, its four-cylinder motor compromised the whole package and made it feel slightly coarse, slightly ill-resolved and slightly underpowered for what it was. This six-cylinder motor, though, is so much more befitting and likeable than the 2.0-litre turbo, and this goes way beyond what an additional 81hp and 150Nm have to do to negate the X5 PHEV's 200kg weight gain.

The whole drivetrain is considerably more cultured, so as it slips seamlessly in and out of EV mode into Hybrid mode and then to running with just its petrol engine when battery charge drops low enough, there's never a point where you cringe at the noises the powertrain is making or sense that any part of the motive power is struggling with the X5's bulk. Indeed, the 45e feels even stronger than a nigh-on 400hp peak might lead you to believe, especially as we're only talking about a modest 157hp-per-tonne. It'll go hard at the horizon with everything in Sport, making a deeply pleasing straight-six rumble as it tears off into the distance, and yet it can whisper along in near-absolute silence when either the electric motor is doing the hauling solo, or the TwinPower Turbo unit is merely ticking over at low revs.

Everything else about the X5 is oh-so-very BMW. Twin-axle air suspension with Dynamic Damper Control is standard-fit on this PHEV beast, so it has excellent control of its mass during hard cornering, just as much as it is superb at smothering out the worst that road surfaces can throw at it. OK, OK, you'll cry 'But GERMANY!' and make the point that Teutonic roads are smoother than ours, but there are bits of the BMW's road network in its homeland which are considerably less than pristine and, even then, the X5 xDrive45e rode over them wonderfully well. It's also refined to the point of an even grander SUV from one of the marques that are perceived to be 'above' BMW, as its noise suppression is ridiculously totalitarian. Decent steering, brakes which don't feel two-stage grabby (as so many hybrid regen stoppers can do) and an abundance of traction from the xDrive underpinnings, coupled with a surfeit of grip from its big, wide sports tyres, means there are very few locations where the X5 xDrive45e feels anything but supremely in control of the situation.

It's not quite perfect, of course, as its weight isn't ever truly imperceptible, so something like the mighty M50d will be the more rewarding X5 to steer for the keener enthusiast. And we got about 30mpg out of it when driving out of Munich and into the surrounding Bavarian countryside, although two points in its defence on this score: one, no buyer of an X5 xDrive45e is ever going to drive it at the sustained pace we did on twisting countryside roads for long periods of time, or for that matter thrash it down an Autobahn at 125mph-plus for miles on end, so it's not a representative return of UK driving; and two, it actually did 17 miles of a 47-mile route on e-power alone, whilst also claiming it could go another 30 miles without needing to burn any more fossil fuel. That, we reckon, means its quoted electric range is entirely plausible in the real world and for a huge, heavy, powerful, petrol, luxury SUV like this to be able to go nearly 50 miles without kicking out any CO2... that's seriously good work, BMW.


The previous BMW X5 xDrive40e, while something to be admired for the engineering that had gone into creating it, was most emphatically not our favourite model of the Mk3 X5 range. Tables have turned, though, because we think this smashing new xDrive45e is undoubtedly the go-to of the Mk4 X5 family. Drive it properly, charge it regularly and this is a PHEV SUV that gets very close to doing everything you could ever need it to very, very well indeed.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain

Matt Robinson - 6 Nov 2019    - BMW road tests
- BMW news
- X5 images

2019 BMW X5 xDrive45e. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X5 xDrive45e. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X5 xDrive45e. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X5 xDrive45e. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X5 xDrive45e. Image by BMW AG.

2019 BMW X5 xDrive45e. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X5 xDrive45e. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X5 xDrive45e. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X5 xDrive45e. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X5 xDrive45e. Image by BMW AG.


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