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What Car? Electric Car Awards in association with ONTO

Electric Car Awards 2021: Best hybrid luxury SUV

With electrified cars now coming in all shapes and sizes – and available to suit every budget – we’ve named the best models in every class. Here we look at the best hybrid luxury SUV...

WINNER: Best hybrid luxury SUV

BMW X5 xDrive45e M Sport

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The problem with most luxury SUVs is that they drink like a bunch of students during freshers’ week, but the BMW X5 xDrive45e is an exception.

Indeed, this plug-in hybrid can travel up to 54 miles on electric power before it needs to use any petrol at all.

That’s significantly better than key rivals such as the Audi Q7 55 TFSIe and Volvo XC90 Recharge T8. And that range advantage also helps the X5 to qualify for a low 7% benefit-in-kind tax rating. Company car drivers who choose the Q7 or XC90 will be taxed at 15% and 16% respectively.

BMW X5 45e front cornering - 69-plate car

True, the 45e won’t be as efficient as a diesel X5 once its battery has run flat, but if you enter your destination into the sat-nav, the hybrid system is clever enough to juggle between power sources to maximise economy on your trip. For example, if you’re starting on the motorway and finishing in the city, the 3.0-litre petrol engine will take most of the strain at the start so there’s enough battery power left over for the more congested sections to follow.

Don’t go thinking that the xDrive45e is just a luxury SUV for penny pinchers, though. It’s also fast enough to out-accelerate plenty of hot hatches (we managed 0-60mph in just 5.1sec at our test track) and the air suspension is beautifully judged, giving it sharper handling than the Q7 yet a more comfortable ride than the XC90.

Refinement is another strength. The standard eight-speed automatic gearbox shifts almost imperceptibly and wind noise is well suppressed. Meanwhile, the X5’s engine is quieter than the XC90’s when it fires into life and more tuneful when you rev it hard.

LUXURY SUV: BMW X5 xDrive45e M Sport dashboard

Finding a comfortable driving position is a doddle, because the seat moves every which way electrically. It also features a memory function that lets you quickly return it to your chosen position after someone else has sat there and adjusted it.

What’s more, the seating position is high enough to make an HGV driver feel at home, the interior is beautifully finished and BMW’s iDrive infotainment system continues to set the standard for ease of use, despite being loaded with features.

In fact, the only real disappointment is that, unlike the XC90, the X5 xDrive45e can’t be specified with seven seats due to the need to squeeze in its hefty 24kWh battery. Nonetheless, it’s still very practical, with loads of space for five people and all their luggage.

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