BMW is well and truly on the plug-in hybrid offensive with examples now available in the 3-, 7- and 2-series Active Tourer ranges, while a plug-in 5-series is imminent.

This, the BMW X5e, was the first production plug-in hybrid to arrive in the UK from the German premium carmaker and it is expected to be particularly appealing to fleet drivers thanks to the lower benefit-in-kind bills it offers.

The xDrive40e attracts a 15% BIK rate, and our test car equates to monthly bills of just £142 for someone on the 20% income band, significantly less than the 3.0-litre diesel in the line-up.

Hybrid power

The 2.0-litre petrol engine works in combination with a 9.0kWh electric battery to produce a total of 313hp and 450Nm of torque. The 0-62mph sprint is officially achieved in 6.8 seconds, almost hot-hatch territory; however, in complete contrast to regular performance cars, moving off your drive is a quiet affair in the mornings because the car defaults to eDrive (electric) mode when the ignition is switched on, which will please the neighbours.

It’ll take you up to four hours to charge the X5e from a domestic plug and officially the car can travel up to 19 miles on electric power alone.

The switch from electric to petrol is pretty seamless and the car is easy to drive too. The access to immediate torque results in brisk performance away from the lights and if you switch to Max eDrive mode the car will travel on electric power alone up to 75mph.


To preserve some of the battery life, you can opt for the Save mode, which will protect the range and use regenerative braking to charge the battery back up to 50% capacity if below.

In M-sport spec the X5e comes with adaptive dampers as standard, which enhances handling and offers impressive body control for a car of this size; ride quality suffers in comparison to the standard X5, though.

Mated to the engine is the firm’s excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox together with BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive system, which means the car is also pretty handy should you venture off the beaten track.

Reduced practicality

There’s no seven-seat option in the xDrive40e and boot space is reduced to 500 litres too, so it’s not as practical as the standard X5.

You can buy the plug-in X5 in SE and M-sport trim; here we’re testing the car in the latter, which comes with plenty of equipment for the £56,650 price tag.


The highlights include two-zone climate control, xenon headlights, LED fog lights, an automatic tailgate, Dakota leather upholstery, heated front seats, satnav, cruise control and online services.

Interior quality is very good indeed and cabin roominess is also excellent with lots of leg and headroom on offer for all occupants.

Do the sums add up?

It’s clear that the X5e is very much tailored for company car drivers as this model isn’t eligible for the Government’s plug-in car grant and is 3g/km too high for congestion charge-free access to central London.


An official fuel economy figure of 83.1mpg will be difficult to achieve in the real world. On test we managed just over 40mpg on a variety of journeys. If you do frequent long motorway trips then expect this figure to be lower still.

Residual values are very good, though, at 45.1% and whole-life costs beat plug-in rivals like the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7.

BMW X5 xDrive40e M-sport

Model price range: £44,575-£90,200
Residual value: 45.1%
Depreciation: £31,125
Fuel: £3,831
Service, maintenance and repair: £3,526
Vehicle Excise Duty: £0
National insurance: £3,987
Cost per mile: 92.9p
Fuel consumption: 85.6mpg
CO2 (BIK band): 78g/km (15%)
BIK 20/40% per month: £142/£283
Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles
Boot space: 500 litres
Engine size/power: 1997cc/245hp + 9.0kWh electric battery/113hp