The trajectory of the BMW Group over the past decade has been as interesting as that of any carmaker in the business. Over 10 years ago, well ahead of the current curve, the Munich-based manufacturer bet big on electrification. It launched the BMW i sub-brand in 2011 and released its first mass-produced EV, the i3, two years after that.
The iconic little car—the first truly cool modern EV in history—and its impact on the world cannot be overstated. Despite production ending in 2022, the i3 was a top-seller during its 10-year run and won two World Car of the Year awards. Its fantastic design has aged incredibly well, making the i3 a decent bet to become a potential collector’s item in the future—especially as the EV recharging infrastructure ramps up.
But in the world of electric vehicles, it doesn’t always pay to be at the forefront of the industry. Being ahead of its time hampered the i3. On the other hand, a vehicle like the 2024 BMW X5 xDrive 50e, many would argue, represents a perfect fit for Canada and for these times.
This latest rendition of the popular X5 is a powerful plug-in hybrid that leverages the BMW strengths in electrification and with driving dynamics. Under the powerfully sculpted hood rests a turbocharged six-cylinder engine linked to an electric motor. The combination produces 483 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, more than respectable numbers for a sporty SUV with an efficiency-minded alter ego.
Compared to this vehicle’s immediate predecessor, the xDrive 45e, this X5 features 94 more horsepower, a battery pack with 25 per cent more energy, and 14 more kilometres of all-electric range. For the uninitiated, plug-in hybrid vehicles eliminate the phenomenon known as “range anxiety” because they switch to gasoline power when the battery pack runs dry. But soon—very soon—plug-in hybrid models with greater all-electric range will start to leapfrog those with less in the proverbial tank.
The reason? A combination of factors including gasoline prices and the high cost of new vehicles, particularly electrified vehicles. For the record, the X5 xDrive 50e has an estimated fuel-free range of 64 kilometres. For the average daily commuter, this would be enough to travel back and forth each day provided they have the discipline to plug in every night. But look for the next-generation X5 to up the ante.
Of course, this X5 is not just about efficiency, particularly the specific model tested. There’s also a huge amount of performance in the mix, which is augmented by an optional M Sport Package that features an aerodynamic body kit, high-performance brakes, and leather steering wheel. Optional 21-inch wheels complete the look, giving the X5 a seriously menacing appearance on the outside. Now in its fourth generation, the X5 has been on the market since 1999, and right from the start, it’s been one of the better SUVs from a dynamics standpoint. This latest model continues the trend.
The all-wheel drive system, air suspension system, and active anti-roll bars combine to give the X5 a level of handling prowess that surprises at every turn. Also, the steering is direct, the braking system is solid, and the power is plentiful. These factors combine to make the 2024 BMW x5 xDrive 50e an entertaining ride, when the mood strikes, and an inspired all-around family hauler.