2020 BMW 545e xDrive – Test Drive

The BMW 5 Series model range has already been out on the market for a few years. Worldwide sales of the current generation just recently topped the mark of 600,000 units. Starting July 2020, the revised version of the 5 Series went on sale as well. Next to design changes and technology updates, we also see new models coming to global markets. Especially the plug-in hybrid range has been extended to a total of five models. And that’s also the main reason why we came to Munich.

BMW invited us to test drive the all-new BMW 545e xDrive Sedan, BMW’s flagship PHEV (plug-in hybrid electrified vehicle) model within the 5 Series model range. The new BMW 545e joins the BMW 530e which went on sale in early 2017. While the 530e is available as Sedan and Touring (either with or without xDrive), the 545e will solely be offered as a Sedan and comes standard with the xDrive all-wheel drive system.

Engine and Technology

Over the course of the last year, we saw the introduction of the BMW 745e and the BMW X5 xDrive45e. Both cars are powered by the marvelous BMW B58 engine, a turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine with a total power output of 286 HP. Although the B58 is capable of producing even more power in other models, the engine has been modified and adapted for the cooperation with an electric motor. Consequently, also the BMW 545e xDrive is powered by combination of the B58 engine and an electric motor.

The electric motor is integrated in the drivetrain of the car and uses a 12 kWh battery to generate a maximum power output of 109 HP. If you are driving on pure electric power, BMW claims an electric range of 54 – 57 km (34 – 35 miles). Both systems are able to generate a combined power of 394 HP or 600 Nm (442 lb-ft) of torque.

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The Exterior Design

Our pre-production test car came with the refreshed design of the M Sport package and featured the new exterior color Bernina Grey with an amber effect. Since the car was a pre-production model, some parts of exterior were still hidden with a camouflage tape.

At the front, a new taller and wider kidney grille stands out and is framed on the left and right side by the optional BMW laser lights. The laser light technology is available for the first time ever for a BMW 5 Series and features a new design with L-shaped light tubes arranged next to each other.

Driving the BMW 545e xDrive

Our test drive with the BMW 545e xDrive started in Garching at the BMW press department. An instructor would be leading the way for the next one and a half hours. We will spend some time cruising through the Bavarian countryside and head back via the Autobahn.

For the first part of drive I kept the BMW 545e in the HYBRID mode, which is also the default driving mode of the car. The HYBRID mode allows the car to choose the way of generating its power. You can either run on pure electric power or, if needed, use the petrol engine. The additional use of the petrol engine happens smoothly and effortless, although you can feel the boost in power immediately.

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Alongside the HYBRID driving mode the driver can also select an ADAPTIVE driving mode which is automatically adjusting the vehicles settings. In combination with the active route guidance of the navigation system, the car is able to anticipate upcoming driving situations.

During our test drive, we were also able to see BMW’s ADAPTIVE driving mode in action. When we passed the entrance of Hohenkammer, the BMW 545e rolled down the hill and used the generated energy to charge the batteries.

Of course, the goal was to also test the ELECTRIC driving mode, especially when I entered smaller villages. While driving in the ELECTRIC mode, the BMW 545e is capable of accelerating up to 140 km/h (87 mph). The car runs on electric power all the way as long as the battery isn’t empty or you kick down the accelerator pedal.

For some parts of the drive, I was also able to enjoy some curvy roads with less traffic. Naturally, I switched the driving mode to SPORT. The center display immediately highlights the dashboard in red colors. The new 544e PHEV felt more aggressive, stiffer and ready for some action.

The six-cylinder petrol engine and the electric motor join forces and transform the plug-in hybrid into a powerful sports car which is eager to hunt one corner after the other. The steering is exactly what we’ve seen in other 5 Series models: softer in the more comfortable driving modes, but precise and stiff in SPORT.

But the BMW 545e is much more than just a sports sedan. The idea behind the new plug-in hybrid is to offer the customer a wide range of driving modes and features, with fuel consumption and eco-friendliness in mind.

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At the end of our test drive I was quite impressed by the overall performance of the BMW 545e.  The numbers on the central display also reflect that. I drove a total distance of 99 km (61.5 miles) and I was able to cover two-thirds of the distance on pure electric range.

The energy usage for this part of the trip was 10.4 kWh/100 km (which is even below the official WLTP rating). For the rest of the distance I used 4.4 l/100 km (53.4 mpg).

Not a bad result at all for a 5 Series sedan with 394 HP.

Price and Availability

The 2020 BMW 545e xDrive is scheduled to arrive at European dealership in November this year. The base price for the car starts at 68,235 EUR. For now, BMW has no plans to bring the 545e to the North American market.

Bottom Line

Of course, it can be questioned if a plug-in hybrid needs to have a six-cylinder engine and a combined system output of 394 HP. But if it’s up to me, that’s not a question at all. In the end it comes down to everyone’s personal driving profile.

While I can use the electric motor to drive environmental friendly to my office on weekdays, I am also able to enjoy the power of the six-cylinder engine during a weekend trip in the mountains. The BMW 545e xDrive is capable to offer the best of both worlds. If you are looking for a powerful and yet environmental friendly car, the BMW 545e xDrive is the perfect symbiosis of both worlds.

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