New BMW 545e plug-in hybrid: price, range and performance

BMW has launched its most powerful plug-in hybrid car to date: the 394hp petrol-electric version of its upmarket 5 Series saloon

James Allen
Oct 22, 2020

If the substantial 292hp from the BMW 530e plug-in hybrid isn’t quite enough for you, then the new 545e version of the BMW 5 Series will be more like what you're after. In fact, thanks to the combined 394hp from its petrol engine and electric motor, the 545e is currently the most powerful plug-in hybrid BMW to date.

BMW says there’s more to the new plug-in hybrid 5 Series than its raw power, though. Like many hybrid cars, it also promises to be an efficient and affordable car to run - if you regularly plug it in and keep those batteries charged - thanks to its low claimed CO2 emissions of 54g/km and fuel economy of up to 134mpg. And, thanks to its decent-sized 12kWh battery pack, the 545e also has a claimed electric-only range of up to 35 miles on a single charge.

Other than discreet details such as the large charging port panel behind the nearside front wheel and the ‘545e’ badge on the back, there’s very little to differentiate this plug-in hybrid version from a standard 5 Series saloon.

The only major change is in the boot - because of the way the larger battery has been packaged, the luggage volume has reduced from the conventionally-powered model's 530 litres to 410 litres in the plug-in hybrid. There’s no way to offset that by going for the more practical estate version, either, as the BMW 545e is currently only available as a saloon.

Full technical details for the new plug-in hybrid 5 Series haven’t been confirmed yet, though BMW has stated its latest hybrid model will go into production in late 2020.

Quick facts

  • Claimed economy of up to 134mpg
  • Up to 35 miles of electric-only driving
  • Only available from launch as a saloon
  • All-wheel drive and automatic gearbox
  • Prices start from £54,945
  • Expected to go on sale in late 2020

BMW 545e plug-in hybrid economy and performance

Many plug-in hybrid cars have impressive on-paper fuel economy figures, and the new 545e is no exception. BMW reckons it can return up to 134mpg, which is pretty good for a car of this size - though that relies on you charging the batteries regularly to make the most of the electric power. Still, this is admittedly somewhat down on the economy of rivals like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class plug-in hybrid, which is capable of up to 176mpg.

In order to get as close to those claimed figures as possible, you’ll need to make sure there’s sufficient charge in the battery to benefit from the electric motor. If you run down the battery until it’s completely flat and don’t recharge it, the BMW 545e will work like a conventional petrol-powered car, meaning you’ll likely use up more fuel than you otherwise would have done, as the car has to carry around a heavy battery pack and electric motor, while getting little economy benefit from it.

Don’t expect to see stellar fuel economy figures either if you decide to let the BMW’s punchy petrol-electric powertrain stretch its legs a bit. The power from the 286hp, 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine is already quite startling when you put your foot down, but the extra assistance from the electric motor brings the total output to 394hp. Factor in the hefty 600Nm of torque, and BMW says this means the 545e can accelerate from 0-62mph in a sports car-rivalling 4.7 seconds, and reach a top speed of 155mph.

While other BMW 5 Series plug-in hybrids are available with rear-wheel drive, the 545e for now at least only comes with all-wheel drive, which means that you should be able to make good use of the power without constantly spinning the wheels. There’s also only one gearbox option: an eight-speed automatic.

BMW 545e plug-in hybrid range and charging times

Because of its fairly big 12kWh battery pack, the BMW 545e is claimed to have a pretty decent electric-only range for such a big and heavy car. According to BMW, the plug-in hybrid 5 Series can cover up to 35 miles on battery power alone - which is a little bit better than the Audi A6 50 plug-in hybrid’s electric-only range of 34 miles, and a more noticeable improvement over the Volvo S90 T8 Recharge’s range of up to 31 miles.

That claimed range means the 545e should be able to comfortably cover short trips into town and back before the batteries run flat. However, as with every plug-in hybrid and fully electric car, your range will depend greatly on factors such as how fast you’re going, the type of road and traffic conditions and how much charge is in the battery pack before you set off.

No charging times for the 545e have been announced by BMW yet, though they’re likely they’ll be at least fairly similar to the ones quoted for the less powerful 530e version of the plug-in hybrid 5 Series. Expect to be able to recharge the battery up to 80% (the equivalent of up to 28 miles of range) in around 2 hours 40 minutes when using a 3.7kW public charging point.

BMW 545e plug-in hybrid specifications

BMW hasn’t yet confirmed the full technical specifications for the new plug-in hybrid 5 Series. However, it has confirmed the car will be available in two trim levels - entry-level SE and M Sport, the latter of which should look and feel sharper from behind the wheel - so we have an idea of what to expect from them.

SE cars should come as standard with tech like cruise control, a 12.3-inch touchscreen media system with smartphone connectivity and a partially-autonomous parking assist that can allow the car to parallel park by itself. M Sport models will have mostly the same kit as standard, as well as sportier pieces inside and out such as more supportive front seats, a subtly redesigned leather-wrapped steering wheel and new front and rear bumpers that more closely resemble the items on the high-performance M5 saloon.

The BMW 545e will also come with an ‘eDrive Zones’ feature. Using GPS data, the system can detect if the car is driving in a low-emission area like London’s Congestion Charge zone, and automatically switch to an electric-only driving mode if there’s sufficient battery charge.

BMW 545e plug-in hybrid price and release date

Prices for the BMW 545e will start at £54,945 for the entry level SE models, and rise to £58,445 for cars specified in the sportier M Sport trim. As always with new cars, you're likely to be able to add many thousands of pounds to those figures if you start adding on pricey optional extras. 

BMW hasn’t yet said exactly when the new plug-in hybrid 5 Series will go on sale. It will likely be available in autumn 2020, though as BMW claims that the first 545e customer cars will start rolling off the production line in November 2020.


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