BMW has taken the plunge into the hybrid sector with this, the ActiveHybrid5, a petrol/electric 5 Series saloon that at first glance, looks a very tempting executive segment choice.
Using the turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six from the 535i, it adds an electric motor to up the power to 325PS and offers driving dynamics of a kind no other brand has yet managed with a hybrid.
Sounds great on paper then, but hefty pricing and strong internal competition from BMW’s excellent diesel 5 Series models mean that the ActiveHybrid5 will be restricted to the tiniest of niches.
For the most part, this 5 Series feels anything but the typical hybrid. Fire it up as you would something more conventional then prod the throttle and it’ll just feel reassuringly.... normal. But with an absolute bucketload of pulling power. In other words, if you didn’t know it was a hybrid, you might not even guess. Well, not unless you had the hybrid system indicator showing on the dash anyway.
Keep an eye on this and you’ll be able to put BMW’s claim to the test that this car should be able to run in electric-only mode for up to 2.4 miles and to a top speed of 37mph. The associated petrol powerplant is much the same turbocharged 3.0-litre engine that’s found in the 535i. This straight-six is good for 301PS and packs 400Nm of torque, so it’s hardly found wanting in the power stakes. Even without any electrical help, this is an engine that will send a 5 Series to 60mph in 5.9 seconds and run it to an electronically-limited 155mph maximum. So it might seem a little odd that those are the exact same figures you’ll get from this ActiveHybrid5, despite it packing 335PS and 450Nm of torque when the petrol and electric motors are combined. Part of that is explained by the fact that the hybrid gubbins add another 150kg to the weight of the car, resulting in a 1.85 tonne kerb weight.
In other words, BMW’s Active Hybrid5 is a great technical achievement but there’s a major caveat – the alternative diesel 5 Series model is cheaper and more frugal. And the fact that you’d have to do a pretty high mileage before even financially justifying this car over its conventional petrol counterpart.