Around an hour after leaving the yard at South Coast BMW in the slick 2016 BMW X5 xDRIVE40E, I was spotted by a friend who had a laugh about how “petrified” I apparently looked. It was my first time behind the wheel of an SUV, and almost instantly I felt the urge to join my local community (or “cult”, according to some) of SUV owners. Compared to the sheer scale of this machine, my daily runaround—a reliable coupe—now seemed to be even more piccolo in stature. Taking control of what felt like a Viking god among the current line-up of SUV models, probably had me in a state of shock or the beginnings of a power trip. Was I just looking a little…petrified?
In any case, “Thor” proved quite the head turner. It came as a surprise then, that the BMW X5’s most exciting feature is extremely well hidden among all that luxury German styling. Under the bonnet lies a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle at its heart—powered by a 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine as well as an 83kW/250Nm electric motor. Designed with maximum efficiency and versatility in mind, the car operates both motors at peak efficiency when you select the AUTO eDrive driving mode. You can also force the vehicle to use only the petrol engine with SAVE mode, which also cleverly recharges the batteries through heightened regenerative braking.
When I selected the MAX eDrive driving mode, the real wow moment happened. This mode essentially forces pure EV (electric vehicle) mode, which is a silent driving mode up to a speed of 120km/h. The ninja stealth and overall smoothness of the electric motor is actually quite a shock.
In fact, I had to do several double-takes to check the car was actually running, especially in carparks with their soundtrack of spluttering engines. In terms of efficiency, using the car in MAX eDrive mode provides a range of around 31km on a full charge, before kicking back to the petrol engine. It’s a smart solution if you commute within a 15km radius, as you could effectively do these trips in pure EV mode, saving emissions and money in the process. But it’s clear you’ll have to get into a new, recharge-first routine, that for me would end my beloved tradition of a sneaky $1 Frozen Coke when filling up the tank.
When it comes to charging the vehicle’s electric motor, BMW supplies a 240V charge pack that works with standard electricity mains at home. This recharges the battery from empty to full in around five hours. That’s quite the time commitment in anyone’s book—so it’s a relief the car is compatible with speedier wall-mounted options through the Chargepoint network [https://www.chargepoint.com] and many independent charging stations around the country. My local shopping destination Wollongong Central has just installed an EVE KEBA 22W Universal Wallbox, alongside two Tesla model chargers, as part of the centre’s first EV charging station. Located on the Basement Level of the P1 (Keira) carpark, the space allows up to three vehicles to recharge simultaneously. For lifehackers like myself, this top-notch service is proof that we shouldn’t throw the “myth” of multi-tasking just yet. Extremely simple to operate, the Universal Wallbox is used with your own Type 1 or Type 2 EV charging cables. Or, you can contact Centre Management, who will happily provide a loan cable if you’ve forgotten.
After making the simple connection from the vehicle to the wall unit (the connection points glow a sexy blue when powered up), it’ll take around 2.5 hours to completely recharge the BMW X5. This is the perfect amount of reclaimed time for a long lunch with friends at His Boy Elroy or Humber, to browse the latest drop at H&M and your favourite boutiques, or even a solid cardio session and a weight training workout, followed by a massage. You can even check on the car’s charging status using the clever BMW Remote iOS app, which displays the car’s performance data and even has the ability to pre-heat or cool the interior in preparation of your journey, at the touch of a button.
A Strong Finish
At the prestige end of the car market, these technological and design inclusions add serious bragging rights to what is already a luxe high-achiever. Without ever becoming ostentatious, the incredibly roomy interior of the vehicle swaps bling for a darker refinement, featuring full leather seats, ventilated front seats, 10.2” infotainment display and 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. And to enhance the driving experience, a crystal-clear surround view camera and seriously intelligent adaptive cruise control system are likely to become your new driver essentials.
For more information, contact South Coast BMW on 02 4243 4700.