BMW X5 2019 xdrive 45e, BMW X5 2020 xdrive 45e

2020 BMW X5 xDrive45e review

An international drive ahead of first-quarter 2020 deliveries

The X5 xDrive45e is the latest in a burgeoning number of plug-in hybrid BMW models.
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Now on sale in Australia at $129,000 with deliveries planned for early 2020, the plush new petrol-electric SUV replaces the older X5 xDrive40e, bringing with it greater power, added performance and, importantly, an increased pure-electric range.

At the heart of the latest fourth-generation X5 model, is the same drivetrain as that used by the newly introduced 745e.

It combines BMW’s silken-smooth turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine developing 210kW and 450Nm of torque with a gearbox-mounted electric motor that delivers 83kW and 265Nm.

Together, the two power sources offer a combined system output of 290kW and generous 600Nm of torque – all of which is channelled through a standard eight-speed torque-converter-equipped automatic gearbox and BMW’s widely used xDrive four-wheel-drive system.

This represents a 60kW and 136Nm increase on the drivetrain used by the X5 xDrive40e, which relied on a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor for propulsion.

Energy for the 2020 BMW X5 xDrive45e’s electric motor is provided by a 24.0kWh lithium-ion battery mounted under the luggage compartment.

It offers 14.8kWh more than the 9.2kWh lithium-ion battery used by the X5 xDrive40e, and with it a much increased claimed electric range on the WLTP test cycle at between 67 and 87km. This gives it a combined-cycle fuel consumption figure of between 1.9 and 1.2L/100km.

The catch comes in reduced luggage capacity. At 500L, there’s 145L less than more conventional combustion engine X5 models. Happily, though, the capacity of the fuel tank remains at 69L.

On the road, the X5 xDrive45e represents a significant advance over the older X5 xDrive40e. It not only delivers greater power, performance and electric range, but also vastly improved levels of refinement in hybrid mode when both power sources are in use.

Experience suggests the new BMW will spend most of its time in hybrid mode – or eDrive, as BMW likes to call it. So, it comes as no surprise to find it remains the default mode.

So configured, the petrol-electric X5 is programmed to use its electric motor as much as possible – and it does for impressive distances around town on light throttle loads.

The instant-torque qualities of the disc-shaped unit sandwiched within the front section of the gearbox housing and combustion engine whisk you along in silence when the conditions and battery's state of charge allow.

The X5 xDrive45e’s six-cylinder petrol engine only engages when you call up greater performance through a more determined stab on the throttle, and it does so with barely a ripple of momentum being lost as it fires and the revs rise.

It is noticeably smoother and more refined than the smaller four-cylinder petrol engine used by the earlier X5 xDrive40e.

The petrol engine and electric motor are terrifically well integrated. To the extent that you’re scarcely aware of which power source is doing the work in low-speed urban driving conditions, until you glance down to the digital instrument panel where the power source is displayed.

Out on the open road, there’s added smoothness to the combustion engine at any point in the rev range and the electric motor is less peaky in nature – all of which leads to truly effortless progress at typical highway speeds.

That said, the X5 xDrive45e never really feels like a car capable of hitting 100km/h from standstill in 5.6sec, or some 1.3sec faster than its predecessor. That’s partly because, with the large battery, it weighs a mighty 2435kg.

The initial step-off acceleration is quite strong owing to the instant torque of the electric motor, but the acceleration thereafter is never really quite as savage as the combined output of the petrol engine and electric motor would have you believe.

With sufficient energy stowed in the battery you can call up Max eDrive mode, which runs exclusively on electric power at speeds up to 135km/h, some 15km/h more than before.

When you do, though, the electric range rapidly depletes and wind buffeting around the large exterior mirror housings is more noticeable due to a complete lack of driveline noise.

As such, it’s best to simply call up eDrive and relax, allowing the two power sources to provide optimum performance for any given situation.

On smooth German roads, the xDrive45e serves up typical X5 dynamic traits, on optional air springs with adaptive damping, as it delivers impressive grip, entertaining agility and great body control given its weight and dimensions. The steering, however, lacks for feel.

On the upside, the brakes are hugely improved with a more linear action and greater feel through the pedal thanks to advances in the energy-recuperation system.

Inside, the cabin is superbly built with high-quality materials, great ergonomics, and an impressive array of digital functions, including the seventh-generation version of BMW’s iDrive system.

Whether this is the right X5 for you comes down to your driving habits. If you do a lot of urban driving and have easy access to a high-speed charger, the xDrive45e is definitely worth consideration.

For many, its appeal will be quite high due to its punchy performance and low average CO2 emissions – a combination that is not always mutually inclusive.

It is definitely a vast improvement over the older X5 xDrive40e, with much better engine refinement, the sort of electric range that will enable you to achieve an average commute on the electric energy of the battery alone, and a truly luxurious interior being among its key strengths.

Editor's note: We'll score this new BMW variant early in 2020, when Australian deliveries commence.

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