The 2012 BMW hybrid lineup might have lost the BMW ActiveHybrid X6 but it gains a new member in the 2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 5. The BMW ActiveHybrid 5 is a gasoline / electric version of the brand's popular 5 Series mid-size luxury sedan, and like each of the hybrid BMWs that preceded it, the focus in the ActiveHybrid 5 is on balancing performance with fuel economy.
Earlier ActiveHybrids, including the ActiveHybrid 7 and the previously-mentioned ActiveHybrid X6 each made use of their battery-assisted electric drivetrains to provide an acceleration boost while offering fuel economy that was less than stellar. The 2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 might not turn heads with impressive fuel mileage projections on the level of those offered by a dedicated hybrid like the Toyota Prius, but BMW is claiming that the ActiveHybrid 5 will out-do the less-powerful BMW 535i at the fuel pump. This would mean that the hybrid sedan would check in with an EPA rating better than 20 miles per gallon city and 30 miles per gallon highway.
Rest assured that the ActiveHybrid 5 is still capable of delivering the kind of responsive ride that BMW owners have come to expect from the segment-leading sport sedan. By combining an electric motor with the BMW 535i's turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, the BMW ActiveHybrid 5 delivers a total of 335 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque and leaps to 60-mph in a respectably quick 5.7 seconds. The lighter curb weight of the 5 Series platform (when compared against other BMW hybrid offerings) was undoubtedly an advantage when putting together the ActiveHybrid 5 package, in terms of both fuel economy and performance. An eight-speed automatic transmission handles the gear shifting duties for the electrified 5 Series.
Like most hybrids, the lithium-ion battery pack found in the ActiveHybrid 5 recharges under braking, and the vehicle can travel a limited distance (2.5 miles) on electric power alone at speeds of up to 37 miles per hour. The sedan features what BMW calls an "ECO PRO" mode that is designed to squeeze out as many miles from a drop of gas as possible by shutting down the gasoline engine while coasting and eliminating idling when the automobile is stopped. The ECO PRO mode also works together with the vehicle's navigation system in order to help the hybrid system "predict" what type of driving situations and topography (elevation changes, etc) will be encountered on a given route, enabling it to optimize vehicle performance and battery charging accordingly.
The 2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 5's balance of frugality and power is in line with the brand's current hybrid strategy, which refuses to sacrifice spirited driving character for significant fuel mileage increases. That being said, the BMW ActiveHybrid 5 is brawnier than competitors such as the 2012 Infiniti M35h, is based on a platform that is dynamically more interesting that the Lexus GS Hybrid and is expected to offer economy figures that are equivalent or better than those associated with either of these sedans. BMW's decision to maintain its ActiveHybrid editions as halo models at or near the top of each respective vehicle's food chain will most likely keep curious and willing buyers streaming into BMW showrooms.