Introducing The Diesel Driver’s New Long-Term Car: the 2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 5

By Paul Riegler on 4 May 2013
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DSC_2997MUNICH—A BMW ActiveHybrid 5 is the newest member of The Diesel Driver’s long-term fleet, but it arrived a bit late   The Azurite Black ActiveHybrid 5 was to be delivered to Jonathan Spira and Christian Stampfer at the BMW Welt in Munich Thursday but, over the preceding weekend, a hailstorm pelted the town of Dingolfing, where the 5 Series is manufactured, and caused damage to several vehicles.

Instead, BMW provided a Liquid Blue Metallic ActiveHybrid 5 as loaner car for two days with the same BMW Welt delivery experience that customers have come to expect.  And now, on Saturday, the fully restored Azurite Black ActiveHybrid 5 was delivered to our two editors at the BMW Welt.  (Azurite Black Metallic is a BMW Individual Color, incidentally.)

The BMW ActiveHybrid 5 is our first hybrid-electric vehicle and certainly won’t be our last although we expect a new diesel to join our fleet towards the end of the summer.

DSC_3086In a recent online poll, 25% of The Diesel Driver’s readers correctly guessed that our new car would be a BMW.  (Admittedly, an equal number voted for Porsche, while 20% voted for Audi, 15.9% for Mercedes-Benz, and 13.6% for Volkswagen.)

The BMW ActiveHybrid 5 made its world debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in November 2011, joining the ActiveHybrid 7, a mild hybrid, and the ActiveHybrid X6, a full hybrid that has since been discontinued.  BMW has also introduced the ActiveHybrid 3.

The ActiveHybrid 5 is powered by a turbo-charged 3.0-liter inline six plus an electric motor.  The hybrid setup places the electric motor in between the engine and a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. The motor adds 55 hp and 155 pound-feet of torque and is powered by a 96-cell lithium-ion battery pack that is mounted between the rear wheels and can store enough energy to allow the car to go up to four kilometers (2.5 miles) in all-electric mode at an average speed of 35 km/h (22 mph).

DSC_3061The combined power output is 335 hp and 330 pound-feet of torque.  This pushes the BMW ActiveHybrid 5 from a standstill to 60 mph (96 km/h) in just 5.7 seconds. Fuel consumption is 30 mpg (7.84 l/100 km) on the highway, and 23 (10.23) in town.  The car’s city fuel economy figures are identical to the less powerful BMW 528i (which admittedly gets better fuel economy on the highway, 34 mpg or 6.92 l/100 km).  The 17.7 (67 liter) fuel tank gives the car a range of 530 miles (853 kilometers).

Beyond the hybrid drive, this is just like any other well-equipped 5 Series.  We specified a BMW Individual color, Azurite Black Metallic, and oyster and black leather with piano finish black trim.  In terms of packages, 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 many options but the most important ones 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 packages were numerous driver assistance features including lane departure warning, blind spot detection, a rear- view camera, and park distance control.  Other favorites include head-up display and BMW Apps.

A little bit about BMW Apps: this is a low-cost option ($250, also included in the technology package) that integrates a variety of supported 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.

In addition, we specified the sport automatic transmission with paddle shifters, parking assistance, power rear and rear side manual shades, and automatic high beams.

DSC_3100Finally, we ordered two options I am really looking forward to experiencing: Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection and the Bang & Olufsen sound system.

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.

Picking up a new car at the BMW Welt via BMW’s European Delivery program offers a number of benefits.  In addition to the cost savings (assume a minimum of $4,250), which can be substantial, the car comes with 14 days of insurance, license plates and registration, and free passage to the United States.  In addition, those picking up a new car can make a full day out of the occasion, with a factory tour and visit to the BMW Museum available at no charge.  The BMW Premium Lounge, which could set the standard for first-class airport lounges, offers a place to relax, a variety of light bites to eat and refreshments, and free Wi-Fi.

The Liquid Blue Metallic ActiveHybrid 5’s first stop was Berchtesgaden, roughly 180 kilometers (112 miles) from Munich (and 30 kilometers from the Austrian border) in the Bavarian Alps.  It was (as a stand-in) the third car from our magazine group to visit, a tradition that started in 2005 and continued in 2009 with the BMW 335d.  Berchtesgaden is a region known for its natural beauty and mountains including the Watzmann, at 2,713 m the third-highest peak in Germany and the Kehlstein mountain (1,835 m), which offers visitors spectacular views from Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle’s Nest).

(Photos: Accura Media Group)