Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Stephen Spyropoulos
Published: May 8, 2017
“Hey, you can’t park there!”
The voice becomes more agitated. “Are you listening?!” Looking into the driver-side mirror I see a strangely shaped man staring at the BMW X5 in front of him with a look of pure revulsion plastered on his pockmarked face. “That spot is for electric vehicles only!” Now realizing what his quarrel with me was pertaining to, I smoothly step out of the Glacier Silver Metallic X5 and without saying a word, depress the door which covers the type 1 (J1772) charge port, and plug the X5 in to feed on some of Ontario’s finest hydro-electric current. By now, pockmark boy in his Nissan Leaf must’ve felt like a complete nincompoop.
With the EV parking police issue to the side, this German luxury crossover assembled in Spartanburg, South Carolina can indeed suckle from the electrical mains, although in this application, the charging power only tops out at 3.5 kilowatts, meaning all of the level 2 public chargers that are rated for up to 6.6 kW are twiddling their thumbs. We’re in the Golden Age of Tesla. Waiting nearly 3 hours to charge this plug-in X5’s 9.2-kWhr lithium-ion battery for 22 kilometres of claimed electric range is so not Silicon Valley cool.
It is estimated that the xDrive40e will attain between 0-22 kilometres of EV range when the battery is full. There’s a dash between 0 and 22 because the powertrain will fundamentally favour a blended gas/electric driving condition, unlike vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt or BMW’s own i3, that will keep the engine off for as long as possible. As expected, the N20 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four rated at 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque performs quite reasonably on the road, similar to other BMW products it can be found in.
The 111-hp, 184-lb-ft AC induction electric motor is always ready to roll with punches at low speeds but is otherwise completely overshadowed by the sterling N20, if the driver isn’t consciously trying to move the X5 with battery alone. Switching between engine and e-motor or putting the two’s power together, fortunately, does not disturb the SUV’s velvety flow of operation.
The information (EV range, battery percentage, electric drive efficiency, etc.) related to the SUV’s plug-in ability is subtly integrated into the existing instrument cluster and centre display interfaces. None of the xDrive40e’s PHEV-ness is thrust upon driver or passenger, though the charge port on the driver’s front fender does feature a light-up ring with colours coordinated to the charging status.
Once we reach the tipping point where a plug-in SUV will size its internal combustion part equally with the electric portion, that’s when we’ll truly know there’s no turning back from electrifying all the automotive things. With the combination of electric and gas power, the chassis code F15 X5 can churn out a combined 308 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque.
I preserved battery energy with the Save Battery setting (this holds the charge for future deployment and coaxes the engine into continuous action) in advance of straight line testing. This allowed the propulsion sources (set to Auto eDrive instead of Save) to heave the X5 from 0-100 km/h in 6.2 seconds.
Despite weighing as much as the V8 endowed X5, the xDrive40e lays down respectable straightaway numbers. And the 46:54 weight distribution is more rearward-biased than a Mercedes-AMG GT S (by 1 percent). The X5 came with gargantuan 315/35R20 tires on the rear axle and 275/40R20 in front. The massive rubber on the test specimen certainly helps with the fleet 100 km/h-0 km/h braking venture.
The BMW rides a bit better than we remember of previously tested F15 X5s. The xDrive40e relays a sense of sportiness in the ride control while equipping the drive with a strong command of the road. Present X5 owners should find plenty to be pleased with in the ride and handling.
The steering feels “bizarre” when pressed into extreme figure-eight handling situations. The steering is very electric and the artificial effort is unpredictable. The brake pedal wasn’t overly eager with its regenerative braking, feeling about average for a hybrid vehicle in gentle and aggressive driving.
Now for the fun part; the numbers game. By our testing, the battery takes about 9 kW-hrs off the electrical grid to charge from “empty”—which registers at about 6 percent on the cluster percentage display and never drops to 0—to 100 percent. That roughly equates to 0.09 kW-hrs per percentage point, and each time it was charged, the EV driving distance sprung from “—” (it’ll also read 0 before that) to 38-40 kilometres. The electronically limited electric-drive top speed in Max eDrive is 120 km/h but no one is getting 28 to 30 km at 120 km/h unless the X5 is going downhill the whole way.
It’s always worth repeating what a strange time we live in. The X5 xDrive 40e plug-in hybrid shows that anyone (with a lot of money) can get their hands on a spacious and tall four-cylinder BMW matched with 315 mm wide rear tires and sports-car-like weight distribution, and it can drive without using any gas. The battery beneath the cargo hold floor minimally affects the measured 968 litres storage volume available as well; a mere 4% reduction off the regular X5’s 1013 litres.
Starting at a tongue-bite-inducing $74,700, this X5 is not cheap by any means. Thankfully, if you live in Ontario, the government will be more than happy to hand over $8,460 towards your purchase of the xDrive40e via incentives.
The EV police may not believe it, but this X5 has what it takes to take electric driving to the next level of luxury and sportiness.
型号 Model: 2017 BMW X5 xDrive40e
顏色 Paint Type: Glacier Silver Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $74,700
試車售價 Price as Tested: $84,250
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,933
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,908 / 1,938 / 1,762
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,368
引擎 Engine: 2.0-L turbocharged inline 4-cylinder with 9.2 kWh battery
最大馬力 Horsepower: Net output 308 hp
最高扭力 Torque: Net output 332 lb-ft
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 10.2 / 9.5 / 9.2
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 9.0