2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 – Review and Test Drive

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This integration allows the car’s systems to access and analyze data in real time regardingDSC_3175 road conditions and driver requirements.  It allows energy to be stored as needed in anticipation of what is coming up on the route so it can be put to the best and most efficient use.

Included in the analysis are topography (think hills or small mountains and valleys) and speed limits along the route.  For an uphill stretch, the car will automatically use maximum energy from the battery to provide supplementary power with the knowledge that the battery will recharge on the downhill portion.

The car’s systems can also plan ahead to keep the battery as fully charged as possible towards the end of a trip allowing for maximum electric-only driving range at lower speeds close to arrival.DSC_3405

This is all presented on the car’s instrument cluster and central information display, which is what makes it so fascinating, although one can become mesmerized in watching the energy flow and energy recuperation display.   A separate gauge next to the tachometer shows the boost being applied by the electric motor during acceleration (I call this the Freude am Fahren gauge).  The central display will also show the battery’s current charge level and power-sharing between the inline-6 and the electric motor during a drive.


Since the car has only been back in the U.S. for a few weeks, my impressions have been formed largely by driving the ActiveHybrid 5 in Europe after delivery. DSC_3432

As expected, it exhibits poise and grace and is very responsive.  The hybrid gear adds roughly 300 pounds to the car’s weight, which contributes to the car taking 0.3 seconds more to get from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 96 km/h).  I didn’t know the car was slightly slower nor did it seem to matter in my driving which was largely on German and Austrian Autobahnen and an Italian Autostrada.  Passing slower traffic (those moving at a speed of less than 100 mph or 160 km/h) was something the 5er seemed to enjoy doing as the torque from the electric motor was available without any hesitation.

I didn’t get to test this out a lot but I did notice the coasting mode several times while driving.  The coasting mode shuts down the internal combustion engine when coasting at higher speeds (although no faster than 100 mph).  The coasting mode switches off the engine and disconnects it from the driveshaft. At this point, the car was moving silently as a zero-emissions vehicle.  I look forward to experiencing this more in the coming months.

Another thing I immediately noticed is how seamless the auto start-stop feature is. DSC_3126 When the vehicle is stopped in traffic, the engine is shut off and, when I released the brake, the vehicle often stated to move forward on the electric motor only although it appeared to be a combination of the motor and inline-6 on some occasions.


Beyond the hybrid drive and the liberal use of ActiveHybrid badging, this car is just like any other well-equipped 5 Series. In ordering the car, we specified a BMW Individual color, Azurite Black Metallic, and an oyster and black leather interior with piano finish black trim.

In terms of packages that BMW offers, the car has the luxury seating package, premium package, sport package, cold weather package, driver assistance package with driver assistance plus, and the technology package. These packages include too many options to list but the most important ones, at least in my opinion, are heated seats, heated steering wheel, ventilated multi-contour (“Comfort”) seats with massage, and keyless (“Comfort”) access with a virtual “air” pedal that opens the trunk. Also included in the various packages were numerous driver assistance features including lane departure warning, blind spot detection, a rear- view camera, and park distance control. Other favorites of mine include head-up display and BMW Apps.DSC_3118

The last package is a low-cost option ($250, also included in the technology package) that integrates a variety of supported Apple iOS apps with the car, including Facebook, Twitter, and Internet radio powered by TuneIn Radio. Pandora and Mog are also supported and that’s only scratching the surface in terms of functionality.

We also ordered the 5er with the sport automatic transmission with paddle shifters, parking assistance, power rear and rear side manual shades, and automatic high beams.

Finally, two options which I’m having quite a bit of fun with are Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection and the Bang & Olufsen sound system.  We’ll cover these and other technologies in our next review.

The base price of the ActiveHybrid 5 is $61,400. As equipped, it runs $84,550. BMW is currently offering an eco credit of $4,500 to all buyers.

Click here to continue to Page 3Details, Specs, and Virtual Drives with the ActiveHybrid 5

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