Political correctness can sometimes make strange bedfellows. Take, for example, a notorious 'Chelsea tractor' - one of the heavyweight, fuel-slurping, inappropriately luxurious, all-wheel drive monsters the bunny-huggers love to hate - and combine it with an eco-friendly plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Sounds kinda oddball, but that's exactly what BMW has done in the Concept5 X5 eDrive, due to debut at the Frankfurt motor show in a couple of weeks.
The concept has a Twinpower turbopetrol four hooked up to a 70kW electric motor, developed in-house by the BMW Group and fed by a high-voltage lithium-ion battery under the floor of the boot that stores enough amps for a maximum range of 30km or a top speed of 120km/h (but not both at the same time!) on pure electric power.
Working together, they can take the X5 eDrive from standstill to 100km/h in less than seven seconds; BMW also quotes average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle of 3.8 litres per 100 kilometres - which says more about the EU test cycle than it does about the car.
THREE DRIVING MODES
There is a choice of three driving modes - intelligent hybrid drive option for a balance between sportiness and efficiency, pure electric drive for emission-free driving around town, or safe battery mode, which keeps the battery fully charged all the time so you can switch to 'clean and quiet' mode when you really need it.
The battery can also be recharged from any domestic power socket, a three-phase Wallbox designed to offer stronger currents or a public charging station, using a charging cable stored on top of the battery under the floor of the boot.
The concept5 eDrive is distinguished from its more conventional siblings by kidney grille slats, air intake bars and rear bumper inlay, all finished in the special blue colour chosen for the BMW 'i' range, special roof rails, a connector for the charging cable that lights up during charging and streamlined 21" alloy rims.
The familiar iDrive system has been adapted for plug-in hybrid use to display the electric range available as a numerical value, while monitoring traffic conditions, route profile and driving style.
A pro-active driving assistant uses the navigation system to factor in route profile, speed restrictions and the traffic situation, while the driver can call up along the route or at their destination and the system also tells them how much charging time is required to top up the battery.
All the information about battery charge and electric range can also be seen on the driver's smartphone, using an app from BMW ConnectedDrive, which also allows the car to be pre-programmed while it is connected to an electricity source. For example, the air conditioning can be activated remotely to ensure a pleasant temperature inside the car before the driver gets in.