Under the bonnet of a big SUV usually lies a big engine, take for example the F15 BMW X5 xDrive35i. It’s powered by a turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six producing 306 hp and 400 Nm, but costs RM574k. Now we have this, the X5 xDrive40e, and it’s powered by a much smaller 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol.
|Name||BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport|
|Engine||1,997 cc; 4-cylinder, turbocharged, with electric motor|
|Max Power||245 hp @ 5,000 – 6,500 rpm (petrol engine)111 hp @ 3,170 rpm (electric motor)
308 hp @ 5,000 rpm (combined)
|Max Torque||350 Nm @ 1,250 – 4,800 rpm (petrol engine)250 Nm @ 0 – 3,170 rpm (electric motor)
450 Nm @ 1,250 – 4,500 rpm (combined)
The X5 xDrive40e is also RM185k cheaper than the X5 xDrive35i, but it comes with more kit and more power than the bigger-engined sibling. Simply put, the X5 xDrive40e is currently the cheapest and the most powerful X5 you can buy in Malaysia. So how do they do it?
LESS IS MORE
The engine may be smaller, but it’s assisted by an 83 kW (111 hp) electric motor that sits between the petrol mill and the eight-speed gearbox. The key point here is that it’s a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), which explains ridiculous the 308 hp and 450 Nm output and that lowly 3.3L/100 km fuel consumption. Being locally-assembled, it gets the hybrid incentive too, because without it the X5 xDrive40e would have been the most expensive X5 in the range, costing approximately RM580k.
Standard kit is generous. You’ll find stuff like heads-up display, quad-zone climate control, three screens, iDrive touch controller, 360 camera, panoramic sunroof and a 900 watt Harman Kardon Surround sound system. Additionally, the X5 xDrive40e comes with the Driving Assistant pack which consists of Lane Departure Assist, Collision Warning and Pedestrian Warning with automatic light city braking.
The equipment list spills outwards too. It’s the same F15 X5 that we all know and love, but the M Sport kit adds sportier bumpers and staggered 19-inch wheels. It’s a handsome beefcake no doubt about it, with a proper butch proportion made up of a bluff nose and a stocky stance to emphasise its rugged credentials. On top of that, BMW Malaysia also fitted our test mule with the optional roof rack and a bicycle mount. Totally unnecessary, but some people think it looks cool. I don’t…
ULTIMATE DRIVING… SAV?
Not quite. The century sprint time of 6.8 seconds and the top speed of 210 km/h is decent for a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) that weighs over 2,000 kg and the supple suspension is a boon on pockmarked city streets, but it can’t quite manage to shed its big-car feel even when you’re out on the highway. The surround view camera does help in tight alleys and while steering is precise, the X5 can feel quite ponderous on twisty roads. Get too enthusiastic with the throttle pedal and it fumbles along the corners, although grip was never an issue since the power is distributed to the xDrive all-wheel drive system.
However, the hybrid powertrain does hide the X5’s bulk rather well. Thanks to the electric motor, it scoots off the line like an eager little hatchback, and there’s plenty of poke from low to mid range before it tapers off above 4,500 rpm. And the beauty of these hybrid machines is that you won’t be hearing what’s going on under the bonnet most of the time. Unfortunately, once the four banger comes to life it can never replace the sweet sound of BMW’s good ol’ straight six.
SHH… DID YOU HEAR THAT?
Keep it in Max eDrive mode and the cabin stays incredibly hushed, except that the roof rack on our car which starts hissing when the speedo gets past the 70 km/h mark. Relying on the battery power alone, you should be able to travel around 30 km (official claim) and at speeds up to 120 km/h, but we rather leave it in Auto eDrive and let the clever computers do the work.
The 9 kWh lithium ion battery takes no more than four hours to replenish or under three hours if using the i Wallbox charger, but you can always charge it on the fly in Save mode with its regenerative brakes. The battery location under the boot means the X5 xDrive40e loses the third row seats, and the cargo area has shrunk from 650 litres to 500 litres. Still far from cramped though.
IS THIS CAR FOR YOU?
If you’re looking for a spacious, comfortable, and economical large SUV, the X5 xDrive40e should be in your list. Don’t expect to get 3.3L/100 km if you’re doing a lot of interstate travels. I managed to get around 8.0L/100 km over the course of four urban-driving days, which is not bad for a two-tonne behemoth.
With its gentle demeanour, the X5 works great as a daily human hauler and highway cruiser. Personally, I find the ride a tad too jiggly for my liking, which doesn’t quite complement the precise steering and the good brakes it offers. But for most people, the X5 xDrive40e is certainly a great value. I mean, where else can you get a full-size continental SAV for RM389k?