BMW and Cadillac have chosen the 2015 Shanghai auto show as the stage for global introductions of new upscale plug-in hybrid models.
From BMW comes the X5 xDrive40e, a PHEV crossover that pins a turbo four-cylinder (the brand’s familiar 2.0L unit) to an electric motor, but keeps the standard model’s eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive system. BMW says total drivetrain output is 313 hp, but doesn’t mention a torque figure; taking the gasser’s stated 258 lb-ft and electric motor’s 184 (the total is rarely as simple as adding these up), we’d guess at a torque of something like 400 lb-ft.
Selectable eDrive modes include a full-auto setting that balances electric and gas power, and commands the electric motor to step up when quick acceleration is called for, and another that prioritizes electric operation for city driving. Additionally, BMW’s familiar drive mode selections—Comfort, Sport and EcoPro—are available regardless of which eDrive setting is toggled.
Placing the battery under the cargo floor saves space, says BMW, but that juice box still takes a chunk out of the car’s interior volume, cutting luggage room to 500 litres with the seats up, versus 650 litres in a standard X5.
Bimmer says combined consumption will be 3.4 L/100 km (based on European drive cycle testing) and its electric-only ability is limited to 31 km.
Cadillac CT6 PHEV
Cadillac’s latest PHEV is a partial electric version of the range-topping CT6 that it introduced a few weeks ago at the New York auto show. It pairs the 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine from the standard CT6 with a pair of electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack for a combined power output of 335 hp and 432 lb-ft of torque, figures that slot neatly below the 400 hp/400 lb-ft ratings of the top model’s turbocharged V6.
Replacing the standard car’s eight-speed automatic transmission is an electric variable transmission that blends power from the electric motors and gas engine, and the usual regenerative braking system makes an appearance, with Cadillac promising “improved” brake pedal feel (compared to typical hybrids, we assume).
Selectable drive modes include “normal,” “sport” and “hold” settings; the first two are self-explanatory, but the third keeps the car in gasser mode for highway driving, reserving battery charge for city driving, where the car’s EV mode works most efficiently. Typical of hybrid sedans, the battery is housed between the rear seat and trunk, where it occupies what would be cargo space in the gas-only CT6.
Cadillac is more optimistic than BMW about fuel consumption and driving range, claiming 60 km of all-electric driving on a full charge, and a combined consumption rating of 2.0 L/100 km
Audi A6 L e-tron
Also making an appearance is a car not likely to come here—at least not in the specific form shown in Shanghai, as the A6 L e-tron is based on a long-wheelbase platform not available here. Like the Cadillac and BMW, it pairs a turbo 2.0L four-cylinder with electric power for total output of 242 hp and 369 lb-ft. Based on Chinese fuel consumption test methods, Audi says its PHEV sedan is good for 2.2 L/100 km and can run on juice alone for 50 km on a full charge.