The world’s benchmark sport sedan breaks new ground with the introduction of the 2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 5—a model that manages to boost power and performance over its 535i Sedan stablemate, while shifting into the green band of efficiency. For all of its eco-friendly credentials, the ActiveHybrid 5 stays true to its BMW heritage, surpassing the competition in driver engagement, build quality, and interior refinement.
Like other hybrid models in the BMW family, the new 2012 ActiveHybrid 5 (MSRP $60,950) pairs a combustion engine with an electric motor to deliver superior fuel mileage with all the driving pleasure buyers expect. The ActiveHybrid 5, however, is the first BMW hybrid model that can be driven solely on electric power, offering around-town motoring with zero emissions.
The heart of the ActiveHybrid 5 is the same TwinPower turbo 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder that motivates the 535i. Boasting a TwinScroll turbo, piezo direct fuel injection and Valvetronic variable intake valve lift control, the 3.0-liter inline-six cranks out 300 hp and 300 lb/ft of peak torque.
Add the liquid-cooled electric motor and the total drive system output reaches 335-hp and 330 lb/ft of torque.
Also carried over from the 535i is the standard eight-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission paddleshifters mounted on the steering wheel are optional). Acceleration runs from 0-60 in just 5.7 seconds while overall driving range increases (and carbon dioxide emissions decrease) by up to 16 percent compared to the 535i. BMW has not announced final fuel-economy ratings for the ActiveHybrid 5, but, following an initial review, the editors of Car and Driver magazine estimate the vehicle achieving up to 34 mpg on the highway.
Storing power for the electric motor is a 96-cell lithium-ion battery with a usable energy capacity of 675 watt-hours. Encased in a collision-resistant housing set between the rear wheel arches, the battery is so compact that the ActiveHybrid 5 can still offer 13.2 cubic feet of storage space in the trunk. To further boost fuel efficiency, the lithium-ion battery also powers the air conditioning, leaving the passenger compartment cool and comfortable even when the Hybrid Auto Start-Stop function switches off the inline-six-cylinder engine and runs the car on electric power alone—at stoplights, for example, or when coasting downhill.
The ActiveHybrid 5 can also run on emissions-free, all-electric mode for distances up to 2.5 miles at speeds of up to 37 mph, which is perfect for parking spot trawling or negotiating drive-time traffic. And if you’d like to sustain maximum efficiency even when the road clears, set the Driving Dynamics Control system to “ECO PRO” Mode. ECO PRO shuts off the combustion engine and decouples it from the drive shaft when the car is traveling on the highway at speeds up to 100 mph. Dip into the throttle and the TwinPower turbo six instantly reengages for seamless passing power.
Along with the aforementioned Auto Start-Stop function, the BMW EfficientDynamics system includes Brake Energy Regeneration, which charges the lithium-ion battery with up to 15,000 watts when the brakes are applied.
According to the review in Car and Driver, “One of the most interesting aspects of the ActiveHybrid 5 is the level to which its powertrain management system makes decisions based on information from outside the car.” Program a route using the standard navigation system, and BMW’s power electronics analyze the driving conditions of that route—including topography and speed limits—and prime all powertrain systems for more efficient energy management throughout your trip.
Here’s an example of how this “Intelligent Energy Management” system works: If your route includes a series of hills, the system allows the battery to provide maximum energy to the electric motor for supplemental-power delivery on the way up. Depleting the battery on the ascent isn’t a concern, since the system knows it will recharge on the way down.
The first full hybrid model in the history of BMW deserves to stand out. To that end, the ActiveHybrid 5 receives a host of exclusive design cues including “ActiveHybrid 5” lettering on the C-pillars and doorsills, an aluminum plate on the center console bearing the same ID and custom covers for the engine and the lithium-ion battery. Model-exclusive options include Bluewater metallic exterior paint and 18-inch streamline light-alloy wheels designed for superior aerodynamic efficiency.
Following their “First Drive” evaluation of the ActiveHybrid 5, the editors at Motor Trend magazine declared, “Its driving experience [is] absolutely worthy of the marque's performance heritage.” When you’re ready to experience the Ultimate Driving Machine® of premium hybrid sedans, contact us to test drive the new BMW ActiveHybrid 5.