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BMW Active Hybrid 5: Test Drive Review

Date: 30 May 2012   |   Author:

Category: Executive
P11D price: £46,675
Key rival: Lexus GS

BMW's first hybrid to launch in the UK, the Active Hybrid 5, is slightly unusual in that it's nowhere near the most efficient model in the 5-series line-up.

The petrol-electric hybrid is designed to combine sportiness with efficiency, although for cost reasons as well as its 119g/km of CO2, economy fiends will be better off with the diesel 520d Efficient Dynamics model. Instead of optimum efficiency, the Active Hybrid 5's impressiveness is combining sub-150g/km emissions with a sub-6.0secs 0-62mph time and in excess of 300hp.

Although there are a couple of exterior badges to designate the hybrid version, as well as unique aerodynamic alloy wheels, there are few clues on the inside that the car is a petrol-electric version. As with all hybrids, there's a display that shows which powertrain or combination is being used, and there is a nice readout on the dashboard that, when the car's being driven at low speed in electric mode, shows in four stages how much pressure can be applied on the accelerator before the petrol engine kicks in as well. The weight of the 5-series, compared with smaller hybrids such as the Toyota Prius, does mean that you have to be noticeably more gentle on the throttle to maintain pure electric operation at low speed. BMW claims the car can travel up to 2.4 miles on electric power, and at up to 37mph.

There are pay-offs with the hybrid system though. The battery packaging both robs boot space and means the rear seats can't be dropped down to house longer loads. The boot is 145 litres smaller than a regular 5-series at 375 litres too, but the firm will improve on these issues with its next hybrid, a version of the 3-series, coming late this year.

The main fly in the ointment is in fact another 5-series. The quite brilliant 535d is less than £1000 more expensive than the hybrid, offers slightly less power but a faster 0-62mph acceleration time, and has a lower cost per mile at 100.8p versus 101.5p. It's marginal, but the difference comes from the diesel's RV that's 3.0% better at 34.1% and a fuel consumption figure that's 6.3mpg better at 50.4mpg. The hybrid is, though, £52 per month cheaper on driver benefit-in-kind tax payments, so there's not a great deal to choose between them.

BMW Active Hybrid 5
P11D price£46,675
Model price range£31,195-£73,065
Fuel consumption44.1mpg
CO2 (tax) 149g/km (20%)
BIK 20/40% per month£156/£311
Service intervalvariable miles
Insurance (1-50)group 40
Warranty3yrs/unlimited mls
Boot space 375 litres
Engine size/power2979cc/306hp
34hp electric motor
Top speed/0-62mph155mph/5.9secs
On sale May 2012
VerdictBMW’s first UK hybrid
is a taste of better
things to come


BMW’s first UK hybrid is a taste of better things to come