By Cheryl Tay | Photography by Adrian Wong | Post Production by Carlsson Chee
Going green is the current trend for carmakers and by means of ‘green’, it refers to the development of eco-friendly vehicles with less emissions and improved fuel consumption. Examples of green cars include hybrid or electric cars.
There is this unfortunate stigma that people tend to hold of green cars – they think green cars mean slow and ugly. However, carmakers such as BMW have been working hard to dispel that stereotype and one proven result is its ActiveHybrid 5.
Spelling out explicitly in its name that it is a hybrid, this ‘green’ Beemer is confident about its performance...
It has every right to be, as the ActiveHybrid 5 is just as superior, if not more, than its petrol equivalent 535i.
Visually, the ActiveHybrid 5 can be quickly differentiated from its 5 Series petrol mates by means of the ‘ActiveHybrid 5’ identification found on the C-pillars, door sill strips and centre console. Dimensions of the ActiveHybrid 5 and the 535i are similar, so is the engine.
The three-litre BMW TwinPower turbocharged six-cylinder in-line engine delivers 306bhp, but with the electric motor, the combined power output is now 340bhp. The total torque figure for the ActiveHybrid 5 from both systems is 450Nm, from as low as 1,200rpm to 5,000rpm, thus keeping the car quick on its feet over a good range.
Sending power from both drive systems to the rear wheels via the eight-speed sport automatic gearbox, this is the first time that a BMW TwinPower Turbo six-cylinder in-line engine, an electric drive system and an eight-speed automatic gearbox is working together.
The ActiveHybrid 5 can be driven solely on electric power up to 60km/h and can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds, the same time taken by the 535i despite being heavier. Fuel consumption of the ActiveHybrid 5 is 16 per cent more efficient than the 535i, while CO2 emissions are just 149g/km.
The advanced ActiveHybrid technology utilises intelligent energy management of the power electronics through innovative features for the highest efficiency. For example, the charging of the lithium-ion battery for the electric motor occurs during coasting or braking. While coasting in ECO PRO mode of speeds up to 160km/h, the combustion engine can be turned off and completed disengaged, so as to obtain optimum utilisation of the generated kinetic energy. At stoplights, there is a hybrid start-stop function that switches off the engine when the car stops, for further fuel efficiency. This might take some getting used to – the sudden shuddering of engine when it starts up can cause a little surprise initially.
Driving the ActiveHybrid 5 was a joy – the electric motor gives an added boost to the petrol engine during acceleration, making it more responsive.
Tailoring to your driving preferences for the day – whether you are in late for an appointment or you are just cruising home – the driving experience control has various modes such as Sport, Comfort and ECO PRO to adjust the throttle, steering and engine mapping, stability control thresholds and suspension settings to suit.
Some drivers may find the 5 Series a tad big for Singapore’s tight parking spaces, especially in the city, but the parking assist systems in the car make parking a breeze. The Park Distance Control, Surround View and Park Assistant work together for easy parking.
Ultrasound sensors integrated in the rear bumper are your eyes in the back, with acoustic warning signals and visual representation on the display screen to inform you how close the nearest large object is. To help you see better, the Surround View provides a 270-degree bird’s eye view with the rear view camera, cameras in the wing mirrors and in the front of the vehicle.
Should you not be confident of your parking skills or you prefer not to take the risk, you can activate the Park Assistant which will do the parking for you. Upon switching it on, the Park Assist will detect the empty parking lot and then instruct you to let go of the steering wheel. It will then do the calculation and the steering for you. You might feel slightly uncomfortable initially, watching the steering wheel turn by itself. Your feet remain in control of the pedals at all times so your input is still needed but at any point, you can step on the brakes to stop the procedure.
The cabin of the HybridDrive 5 is luxurious and comfortable, as expected from BMW standards. Boot space is compromised because of the battery housed in the luggage area, but is still decently big. The boot can be opened via just by swiftly moving your foot below the rear bumper, requiring no contact and proving extremely useful when my hands are full. Other goodies in the car include the four-zone climate control, paddle shifts, rain sensors, cruise control and a soft-close function for the doors so that you never have to worry about the door not being shut properly.
Launched in Singapore since May, the ActiveHybrid 5 is the first BMW hybrid vehicle to be sold locally. Current green rebates offered by the government until end of December puts the ActiveHybrid 5 in a favourable price position of S$323,800 (with COE) – that means an entire savings of S$18,000 compared to the conventional 3-litre turbocharged petrol 535i’s price tag of S$341,800 (with COE).
BMW ActiveHybrid 5
Engine: 2,979cc inline-6 turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed Steptronic automatic
Total Power: 340bhp at 5,800rpm
Total Torque: 450Nm at 1,950-5,000rpm
0-100 km/h: 5.9 secs
Top Speed: 250 km/h
Price: $323,800 (with COE)
Distributor: Performance Motors
*All prices are right at time of publication.