Don’t fret just yet: High-performance hybrids and EVs may be very well in our future. With the highly-anticipated 2021 debut of the iNext lineup less than two year away now, and the full 25-electrified-model range set to debut in 2023, electrified rumors continue to make headlines.
The iNext debut comes on the heels of the release of many of the new lineup generations, like the 3 Series and 5 Series, by implementing the newest electrified iterations of each. While the G20 3 Series recently saw the debut of the 330e back in August, avid followers of BMW’s electrified vision have been awaiting the release of the newest generation of the 5 Series, something that has many enthusiasts rather anxious—possibly for good reason.
This apprehensive outlook may have the G11/12 7 Series to blame; the laughably large grille design seemed to divide many enthusiasts, and consequently, may divide them yet again, following the release of spy photos of the new 5 Series, the production version of which is set to debut next year.
But the new design talk that we’ve been hearing through the grapevine isn’t the only thing that’s been commanding everyone’s attention. Talk of a 545e model has.
Currently, the 530e is your only option if you’re looking to get behind the wheel of an electrified 5 Series. The 2020 iteration of the 248-horsepower plug-in hybrid, which is available with either rear-drive or xDrive, recently got a slight bump in all-electric range, from sixteen miles to twenty miles this past August. But those numbers may be dwarfed by the rumored upcoming 545e.
Although they are unconfirmed at the moment, current rumors of the 545e make it a very alluring addition to the 5 Series lineup. It’s hinted that the executive midsize sedan will use the same inline-six combustion and hybrid drivetrains as both the 745e and the X545e; if true, this means that we can expect a brawny 400 horsepower from the 545e. If you recall, the performance figures are rather impressive to begin with, especially if you consider the 745e’s sub-five-second zero-to-60 time, an extraordinary feat for what is essentially a land yacht in its own right.
If BMW truly is going to imbue the 5 Series with that type of hybrid power, it may very well surpass the Seven in performance and all-electric range, given that it weighs roughly 600 pounds less than the range-topping luxury sedan and a whopping 1,000 pounds or so less than the X545e. According to rumors, the 545e also has the potential to dominate the luxury EV market as a more practical, affordable, and performance-based option over the more niche-marketed 745e and X545e, an achievement that may not be seen in North American markets.
If the 545e is produced, it is likely that Canadian and U.S. markets will not be included, an enigmatic decision that may not be a particularly wise one. From what we’ve learned over the last few years, the U.S. market has demanded—and will continue to demand—high-performing, range-extended EV vehicles, especially due to a rise in new laws dictating automotive sustainability. The 545e, if developed in accordance with the rumors we’ve heard so far, may also bridge the gap between the traditional and new electrified eras of BMW, which may incite BMW enthusiasts to learn more about BMW i Performance and its capabilities. While I, like many other enthusiasts, still remain enamored by BMW’s naturally-aspirated and turbocharged drivetrain setups, the 545e may be the catalyst for the more affordable performance-hybrid market, and I am very excited to see how it all unfolds.—Malia Murphy
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]