The future of the automobile is becoming more and more electric. But a fully electric car is still a step too far for some, whether from a practical or financial point of view. A plug-in hybrid is an interim solution. In the new BMW 545e xDrive, the brand promises to combine dynamic driving pleasure with maximum efficiency. Did she succeed?
BMW is greatly expanding the range of PHEV models. A 530e of the 5 Series was already available to order, as a sedan and with the arrival of the renewed 5 Series also as a 530th Touring. There is also a choice of a 530e with rear-wheel drive or one with four-wheel drive (530e xDrive). The 530e has a system output of 292 hp with 420 Nm and, depending on the version, can drive 46 to 61 kilometers electrically.
As an extension of the PHEV family, the sedan now comes with a 545e, on paper a very fast and powerful version with the same performance as the BMW M5 E39 of yesteryear, but achieved with a different concept. In that M5 in question – now a desirable classic – a V8 engine provides about 400 hp. In the BMW 545e xDrive, an electric motor and a petrol engine provide this power. You read that right: the 545th in which we are on the road has 400 hp. That’s seriously a lot. However, the system torque is particularly impressive.
A six-in-line petrol engine and electric motor
The powertrain consists of a 2,998 cc six-in-line petrol engine with 286 hp and 450 Nm, supplemented by a 109 hp and 265 Nm strong electric motor that is linked to the 8-speed automatic transmission. All power is distributed to all four wheels via xDrive all-wheel drive.
The system power is 394 hp with a maximum power of 600 Nm. Especially the spacious couple provides a very pleasant push in the back. Driving off at full throttle – a combination of petrol and electric power – is particularly smooth and smooth. The 0-100 time is 4.7 seconds and the top speed is a limited 250 km/h. The powertrain of the BMW 545e xDrive can also be found in the BMW X5 xDrive45e and BMW 745Le xDrive. There, the PHEV powertrain has the same output.
BMW 545e eletric driving
On paper, electric driving is possible from 54 to 57 kilometers and up to a maximum speed of 140 km/h. Nice that you can also drive electrically at a higher speed, but in this case the kilometers fly out of the battery pack. So it’s not very efficient. In that regard, you should mainly drive electrically in cities or in locations where you have to brake more often to use the regeneration function.
BMW 545e xDrive plug-in hybride powertrain
It is easy to influence the operation of the powertrain. You can choose from Sport for maximum performance, from Electric for fully electric driving and from Hybrid, where you recover a lot of energy in the Eco Pro mode and slow down more strongly on the electric motor. If you anticipate well, you hardly need the brake pedal anymore. Because the 545e brakes quite strongly on the powertrain. Timely ‘lifting gas’ means that you have almost already reached the desired speed to take a turn. In Hybrid mode, the system itself chooses the best drive form, whether it is only electric or a combination of electric and petrol power.
BMW 545e battery pack
The battery pack has a capacity of 12 kWh (11.2 kWh usable) and is located under the rear seat and part of the luggage compartment. In practice you have to take into account about 42 to 45 kilometers of range. The actual range is highly dependent on your right foot. It is therefore advised to drive calmly, even if it is sometimes quite difficult in a car with this system power. The acceleration is addictive. According to BMW, that 45 kilometer range is already sufficient, because in Europe we cover an average of 30 kilometers per day.
BMW lets us drive prototypes of the 545th xDrive, because the market launch will only take place in November 2020. For that reason, the cars driven also have a mild form of camouflage: the logos are taped. But that it is a BMW, may it be clear. In the photos in this article we show the final production version.
BMW electric and petrol
During the test drive, it is striking how well the electric motor and petrol engine work together, although there is a delay in the throttle response in Hybrid when the accelerator pedal is fully floored. Logical too, because in this case the combustion engine has to step in immediately at a particularly high speed. Once started, the six-in-line runs like a charm, as we are actually used to from six-cylinder BMWs.
BMW 545e xDrive Hybrid weight
The BMW 545e xDrive manages to mask its extra weight on the rear axle in a straight line just fine, but not when taking a few fast corners. Then you notice that the weight is pushing through. It is not unsafe, because thanks to xDrive four-wheel drive there is plenty of grip. But you do feel those extra kilograms.
BMW next generation M5
BMW currently supplies a conventional M5 version with a 600 to even 625 hp V8 petrol engine. The question is whether such an engine is future-proof. Higher CO2 emissions are increasingly not done. In that regard, it is quite possible that a future M5 will receive some form of electrical support. And that could very well be possible with a next generation M5, since the new generation 5 Series also comes with a battery-electric version in response to the announced Mercedes-Benz ‘EQE’, the electric E-Class. Either way, it’s clear that something will change.
BMW 545e soundproofing
Where you especially enjoy a roaring petrol engine in an M5, the BMW 545e xDrive is mainly quiet. A lot of peace even, because the sound insulation is of a high level. Even when the six-in-line petrol engine sings along at the highest rpm, it remains remarkably quiet in the car. BMW also uses very comfortable seats that provide good support for the entire body. The message is clear: this is a mile-eater for the highway, but thanks to the PHEV powertrain also a car with which you can drive locally emission-free into an environmental zone in a large city center.
BMW why plug-in?
To take maximum advantage of the benefits of a plug-in hybrid powertrain, it is important that you charge the battery pack. Because only then should you be able to come close to the manufacturer’s specifications of thick 1 in 40. During our test drive – which sometimes also drove briskly – we arrived at 1 in 23. Even that is very neat, although you can do that too with a 520d with diesel engine. Only dieseling is no longer very interesting in the Netherlands because it is very heavily taxed.
In that respect, the BMW 530e or 545e xDrive can be a great replacement for those diesels, where you only benefit from very low fuel consumption if you neatly hang the car on the charger. In any case, you have to do that to be able to enjoy 394 hp and 600 Nm. In principle, you hang that 545th xDrive so mainly for that reason on the plug. In any case, it would motivate us sufficiently, because 600 Nm simply remains very impressive. You continuously want more of that.