BMW X5 hybrid engines, drive & performance

Like any BMW X5, the hybrid doesn't feel nearly as big as it is from behind the wheel. It's extremely fast, too

BMW X5 hybrid
0-62mph Top speed Driven wheels Power
5.6s 146mph Four 394bhp

Big plug-in hybrid SUVs like the Volvo XC90 T8 and Audi Q7 TFSI e tend to be fast and powerful as well as ultra-efficient, and the BMW X5 hybrid is no different, with its sub-six-second 0-62mph time, near-400bhp output and surprisingly sporty handling.

BMW X5 hybrid 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration

The X5 hybrid's 3.0-litre, six-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine produces 282bhp, while its electric motor provides another 111bhp. Total system output is 389bhp, driving all wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

This is good news because, at two-and-a-half tonnes, the X5 hybrid is not a light car: fortunately, the instant torque from the electric motor is enough to disguise its bulk from behind the wheel.

Hybrid mode is the default setting on start-up, which means you’ll pull away silently from a standstill. However, burying the throttle will engage the engine, too, resulting in 0-62mph in a strong 5.6 seconds en route to a top speed of 146mph. The automatic shift between the two modes is impressively seamless, and BMW also gives drivers the option of manual control.

Don't worry about performance in pure-electric mode, though. You can tell the BMW to rely solely on its electric motor, and in that mode you can do motorway miles and make sprightly leaps into fast-moving traffic with no issues at all. This never feels like a slow car, no matter what mode you choose.

Using a button next to the gear selector, you can choose to hold the battery power in order to have enough electric running for any town miles you'll be doing later in the journey, or you can also charge the battery with the petrol engine (albeit at a cost to fuel efficiency). 

Handling

Despite the extra weight of the hybrid drivetrain components, the X5 hybrid drives pretty much like any other X5; that is to say, it never completely disguises its significant bulk, but it's still surprisingly fast and agile for something so large. If you really want a large plug-in hybrid SUV that serves up properly encouraging handling, look to the sharper and more sporting Porsche Cayenne hybrid.

Air suspension is standard on the xDrive45e and does a fine job of keeping the body in fairly tight check if you go for one of the sportier modes; more likely, you'll stick it in default Comfort and just enjoy the faultless cruising manners of the X5.

You can cross continents in this car and still feel fresh at the other end, and it also makes a frustrating motorway-to-city commute as comfortable and stress-free as any limousine.