Here’s a BMW 5 Series that’s both more frugal and more dynamic. What’s not to like?

BMW is dead serious about its electrification ambitions. And to prove the use of electricity isn’t solely justified by a bump in performance - a la Porsche, if you wish - the Bavarians just dropped the 545e xDrive 5 Series, a PHEV version of its core model, one than can run purely on electricity when needed. But, yeah, it will also pull its own weight and more on the Autobahn, so no need to worry about sluggish behavior. Here’s all you need to know.

What is this BMW 545e?

2021 BMW 545e xDrive PHEV Exterior
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Essentially, the 545e is your 5 Series fitted with a hybrid powertrain. It can also be charged like an electric car. This, of course, isn’t BMW first sting at PHEVs.

In fact, the 545e is here to complete the hybridized 5 Series range, joining the likes of BMW 530e and 530e xDrive.

What’s more, BMW will launch the more practical (i.e. wagon-shaped) derivatives of these models in November 2020 - we’re talking about the 530e Touring and 530e xDrive Touring.

What powers the 5 Series 545e?

2021 BMW 545e xDrive PHEV Exterior
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The 545e is the range-topper in BMW’s PHEV club. That status comes courtesy of a synchronous electric motor (80 kilowatts, 107 horsepower) that assists the straight-six gasoline mill (210 kilowatts, 282 horsepower).

Total system power output is rated at 290 kilowatts or 389 horsepower, while torque comes in at a hip-breaking 600 Newton-meters (443 pound-feet).

These resources reach the asphalt through an eight-speed Steptronic gearbox and BMW’s xDrive setup, generating a 0-100 kph (62 mph) sprint cleared in 4.7 seconds and a top speed limited to 250 kph (155 mph). In pure EV mode, the BMW 545e can reach a top speed of just 140 kph (87 mph).

2021 BMW 545e xDrive PHEV
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Speaking of EV mode, BMW claims its 545e can travel for anywhere between 54 and 57 kilometers (33.5 and 35.4 miles) relying solely on the power generated by the electric motor, which in turns feeds from a 400-volt Lithium-ion battery pack positioned under the rear seat, which can store up to 11.2 kWh. Overall fuel consumption is rated at 2.1-2.4 l/100 km, roughly around 98 mpg U.S.

Looking at the performance numbers, there’s a serious increase compared to what the 530e xDrive has to offer. The latter combines a 2.0-liter straight-four gasoline engine with an e-motor to produce 215 kilowatts (288 horsepower) and 420 Newton-meters (310 pound-feet of torque), while the 545e ups the ante with a 3.0-liter straight-six ICE and an e-motor for 290 kilowatts/389 horsepower and 600 Newton-meters (443 pound-feet).

2021 BMW 545e xDrive PHEV Exterior
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The 530e xDrive is also tad slower from a standstill, with a 0-100 kph (62 mph) time of 5.9 seconds, and can reach only 230 kph (143 mph).

BMW 545e XDrive PHEV Full Specs
E-motor power 80 kW/107 hp
ICE 3.0-liter, inline-six
ICE Power 210 kW/282 hp
Total system power 290 kW/389 hp
Total system torque 600 Nm/443 lb-ft
Transmission 8-speed Steptronic, BMW xDrive
Top speed (EV mode) 140 kph/ 87 mph
Top speed 250 kph/ 155 mph
Acceleration 0-100 kph (62 mph) in 4.7 sec

Any changes inside the cabin?

2021 BMW 545e xDrive PHEV Interior
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Yes, there are a few mods, but nothing too consistent. In fact, these adjustments are only normal during the conversion from pure ICE propulsion to PHEV. Normally, the regular 5 Series offers 530 liters (18.7 cubic feet) worth of cargo space. The 545e, however, is good for only 410 liters (14.4 cubic feet).

This being badged as an eDrive model, the pre-set drive modes differ from the regular, gasoline-only 5ers. For example, the default setting is Hybrid, which mediates the interaction between the ICE and e-motor. Keep in mind that in this mode, the e-motor is used as much as possible, with the ICE only kicking in at high speeds or under heavy acceleration/load.

2021 BMW 545e xDrive PHEV Interior
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Drivers can also select the Electric mode, which cuts the ICE entirely, letting the car run solely on the electricity stored in the battery. Alternatively, users can activate the Hybrid Eco Pro mode by pressing the Hybrid button twice. This activates the coasting feature and the braking energy recovery process is tweaked for better efficiency.

Last but not least, you can enjoy the 5 Series’ appetite for dynamic driving by engaging the Sport mode. When selected, it allows the e-motor to support the ICE whenever you need the full band of power and torque. The eight-speed gearbox also gets nippier in Sport mode, for quicker, preciser shifts.

2021 BMW 545e xDrive PHEV Exterior
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Last but not least, the 545e is fitted with a sound suite developed by Hans Zimmer, what works two-fold: on one hand it generates a range of exterior sounds for pedestrian protection (at speeds of up to 30 kph (18.6 mph) and on the other, the Active Sound Design feature turns on while in Sport mode for a more intense engine sound to match the car’s dynamism.

Tudor Rus
Assistant Content Manager - Automotive Expert - tudor@topspeed.com
Tudor’s first encounter with cars took place when he was only a child. Back then, his father brought home a Trabant 601 Kombi and a few years later, a Wartburg 353. At that time, he was too young to know how they worked and way too young to drive them, but he could see one thing – each of them had a different ethos and their own unique personality. As time went on, he started seeing that in other cars as well, and his love for the automobile was born.  Read More
About the author

With a ten-year plan for sustainability, the BMW Group is underscoring its commitment to the goals of the Paris climate agreement, the main focus being on the expansion of electric mobility. More than 500,000 electrified vehicles were sold by the end of 2019 and this figure will most likely rise to over 1 million by the end of 2021. The BMW 5 Series makes a substantial contribution towards achieving both past and future goals. With almost 50,000 units, BMW 5 Series plug-in hybrid models were the most successful electrified models in the BMW Group’s portfolio worldwide in 2019.

Extension of the BMW 5 Series to include five plug-in hybrid models.
With an increase from two to five models featuring innovative plug-in hybrid drive by November 2020, the new BMW 5 Series offers the largest range of PHEVs within one BMW Group model series.

The latest generation of BMW eDrive technology in conjunction with a four-cylinder petrol engine powers the BMW 530e plug-in hybrid models. July 2020 saw the launch of the new BMW 530e Sedan (combined fuel consumption: 1.8 – 1.7 l/100 km; combined power consumption: 14.8 – 13.7 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 42 – 39 g/km)* and the new BMW 530e xDrive Sedan (combined fuel consumption: 2.1 – 2.0 l/100 km; combined power consumption: 16.4 – 15.9 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 49 – 46 g/km)*.

In November 2020, the new BMW 530e Touring (combined fuel consumption: 2.1 – 1.9 l/100 km; combined power consumption: 15.9 – 14.9 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 47 – 43 g/km)* and the new BMW 530e xDrive Touring (combined fuel consumption: 2.3 – 2.1 l/100 km; combined power consumption: 16.9 – 15.9 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 52 – 49 g/km)* will be launched.

Top of the range model: The new BMW 545e xDrive Sedan.
The new BMW 545e xDrive Sedan (combined fuel consumption: 2.4 – 2.1 l/100 km; combined power consumption: 16.3 – 15.3 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 54 – 49 g/km)* features a synchronous electric motor delivering a maximum power output of 80 kW/109 hp, which is combined with an efficient straight six-cylinder petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo Technology and 210 kW/286 hp, together generating an overall system output of 290 kW/394 hp. Power is distributed as required to all four wheels via an 8-speed Steptronic transmission and intelligent BMW xDrive four-wheel drive. Maximum system torque is 600 Nm and top speed is reached at 250 km/h, whilst a speed of 140 km/h is possible in purely electric operation. From a standstill, the new BMW 545e xDrive accelerates to a speed of 100 km/h in just 4.7 seconds*. Thus, the BMW 545e xDrive clearly excels as the most dynamic of all BMW six-cylinder plug-in hybrids.

Thanks to intelligently controlled interaction between both drive systems, the new BMW 545e xDrive combines the best of two worlds. It facilitates not only purely electric driving in urban traffic and efficient commuting between home and the workplace, but also excels through dynamic performance and comfortable long-distance travel. With a purely electric range of 54–57 kilometres* and an average fuel consumption of 2.4–2.1 litres/100 km*, the new BMW 545e xDrive combines brand-typical driving dynamics and a high level of long-distance ride comfort with extremely efficient use of resources.

The latest plug-in hybrid model of the BMW 5 Series is fitted with a 400V lithium-ion battery which is positioned under the rear seat in order to save space. With a luggage volume of 410 litres, the transport capacity of the BMW 545e xDrive is only slightly smaller than of those model variants which are fitted with a conventional engine.

Different driving modes for maximum efficiency in accordance with the relevant driving style and situation.
In order to make optimum use of the combination of the straight six-cylinder engine featuring ultra-smooth running characteristics and eDrive technology in all driving situations, the BMW 545e xDrive supports the driver in numerous ways in terms of energy management. Various driving modes, some of which can be individualised in their operation, are simply selected by pressing the corresponding button on the centre console.

The HYBRID mode is the default setting, which ensures a balanced set-up and an intelligent interaction between combustion engine and electric motor. It is also possible to select ELECTRIC mode as the standard setting via the iDrive menu. In HYBRID mode, the electric motor is predominantly used. The combustion engine only kicks in at higher speeds or under intensive load conditions. Since the system is linked to the navigation system, the interaction between combustion engine and electric motor can be adapted more precisely to the route profile, topography and other driving situations in an anticipatory manner. The electric range is increased by recuperation in overrun and braking phases. The energy supply saved in this way can then be used specifically for locally emission-free driving through urban areas and the arrival at the defined destination.

By pressing the HYBRID button twice, an efficiency-optimised version of this operating mode (HYBRID ECO PRO) is activated.
The coasting function on the overrun, among other things, contributes to a further reduction in consumption. The navigation and sensor data-supported control system also optimises the effectiveness of braking energy recovery. When approaching a junction or a vehicle driving ahead, for example, infinitely adaptive recuperation can be put to particularly intensive use for the purpose of deceleration.

In SPORT mode, the electric motor supports the straight six-cylinder petrol engine when the overall system output of 290 kW/394 hp is fully needed. The set-up is designed for dynamic performance, and the gearshift program is sporty.

The ELECTRIC mode, on the other hand, enables locally purely emission-free driving up to 57 kilometres* and up to 140 km/h.

Special sounds for a special driving experience.
The new “ready to drive sound” produced by the BMW 545e xDrive is the result of the collaboration with composer Hans Zimmer and is designed to trigger joyful anticipation of the electric drive when the driver enters the vehicle and presses the Start/Stop button.

A distinctive sound created especially for electrified BMW models is used for the purpose of acoustic pedestrian protection, emitted via a speaker system. The sound design in the low speed range of up to 30 km/h radiates a vibrant acoustic presence, though without impairing the acoustic comfort of vehicle occupants.

Likewise, via the vehicle audio system, “Active Sound Design” provides for an authentic and, in the SPORT mode of the Driving Experience Control Switch, for a particularly intense and pronounced sound.

Electric mobility meets digitalisation: Digital services for the plug-in hybrid models of the BMW 5 Series.
The BMW Group also offers innovative digital services that actively contribute towards increasing the attractiveness of electric driving even further.

The BMW eDrive Zone service facilitates the automatic switching over of the drive system to purely electric mode when entering an urban low-emission zone and similar inner-city areas. In addition, local emission-free driving with a BMW plug-in hybrid model is rewarded through the globally unique loyalty programme BMW Points.

Apart from filling stations, the navigation system also displays public charging points. When selecting a charging station, the driver is also provided with a forecast on its occupation status as well as recommendations for nearby restaurants or cafés. Moreover, BMW enables BMW Charging customers to reserve an enabled charging station for a limited period of time.

Furthermore, other products from BMW Charging also offer the possibility of comfortable charging at home and when out and about. These also comprise various versions of the Wallbox, including installation service, individual offers for the purchase of electricity and access to the world’s largest network of public charging stations comprising more than 155,000 charging points in Europe alone.

Preconditioning of the interior by means of auxiliary heating and air conditioning ensures optimised comfort during any season. If the preconditioning system is activated during the charging process after defining a specific departure time, the system also guarantees the full electric range in drive mode. The system is controlled either from inside the vehicle or conveniently via the My BMW app.

* All figures are provisional.

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