We drove the BMW 225xe Active Tourer: all the seduction of hybrid e-power…

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When BMW comes up with a plug-in hybrid, you can expect something truly special. Indeed, the cars from Munich offer not only sublime power and performance, but always combine it with uncanny mechanical refinement and a sporting willingness which truly stands out. You just want to put that right foot deeper, and enjoy the velvety  stream of power which unfolds, time and again, just for your pleasure. “Aus Freude am Fahren”,  the men from Munich say, and indeed, the 225xe delivers this unique driving pleasure which we all cherish behind the wheel of a BMW.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

State of the art plug-in Hybrid technology…

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The 225xe brings superb technology. First of all there is the stunning three cylinder 1499 cc TwinPower Turbo engine, which delivers here a lively 136 HP or 100 kW at 4500 rpm and 220 Nm of torque over a very wide rev range between 1250 and 4300 rpm. It runs ever so smooth, revs beautifully until 6500 rpm when called for, and delivers the thoroughbred sound one comes to expect from a BMW petrol engine.

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It drives the front wheels, and is coupled to an electrically controlled  xDrive Steptronic gearbox, which provides the smoothest and cleverest power transmission one can think of. Indeed, the gearchanges are imperceptible in all driving circumstances, and it combines ideally the engine power with the power of the electric engine. This BMW produced electrical engine is quite powerful, drives the rear wheels through a fixed ratio which itself functions as a differential, delivering itself 65 kW or 88 HP at 4000 rpm. One can imagine that in combination with the petrol engine, all this power is quite promising indeed. What is impressive also is the excellent smoothness, the two power sources dovetailing impressively to deliver a very suave and uninterrupted power flow.

BMW enthusiasts know that this marvelous petrol engine is also found in the i8, where it is mounted transversely behind the passenger cabin and drives there the rear wheels.

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In the so-called “Auto eDrive” mode, this BMW has not less than 165 kW or 224 HP on tap, and this results in a whispering smooth sprint from 0 to 100 in merely 6,7 seconds. Remember, anybody can do this, no expert rally or racing driver skills are needed, so it is clear that this is a very, very fast car indeed…

There are two other modes to choose from. The “Max eDrive” and the “Save Battery” mode. In the Max eDrive mode, only the electric motor is used, and hence the rear wheels are driven. When the state of charge of the battery drops below 20 % however, the petrol engine kicks in.

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It just translates the philosophy of BMW cars, being in the first place  well performing cars, providing, as we said, maximum driving pleasure, even when electrical power allows them to move around emission free in our modern megacities.

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Top cruising speed depends in its turn almost solely on petrol engine power, as for the sake of battery autonomy one cannot engage the electric engine here for long lengths of time. 100 kW or thereabouts delivered by the petrol engine then results in a top speed slightly over 200 kmh, which is sufficient in 99,9 pct of all driving circumstances. We mention here that when driving with the electric engine alone, accelerations remain quite lively indeed, with top speed being 125 kmh, with an autonomy being 41 km, that is if you have a very light foot indeed!

Frugality and versatility galore…

In combination with the electric engine, thus using the available battery power, average consumption can be very low indeed. The manufacturer quotes merely 2 to 2,1 liters/100 km. CO2 Emissions are as low as 46 to 49 g/km. To achieve these figures, it is however necessary to charge the battery through an external socket.

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When used in the “save battery power” mode, the consumption hovered between 6 liters on the open road, and 7,5 liters in urban driving conditions. In this “save” battery mode, the battery charge is saved for later, and when the battery is fully depleted at the moment when one chooses this “save battery” mode, the battery will – when possible, allowing the driving circumstances and distance –  be charged up to 50 pct.

External, or plug-in recharging is a breeze, with an easy to reach opening on the left front wing, which can be easily connected to the domestic plug, and even more efficiently through the dedicated BMW i Wallbox. Charging “normally” will cost 3 hours and 15 minutes, with the Wallbox (only) one hour less.

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In the back, mounted underneath the rear seat, sits a 7.6 kWh Lithium battery. To make room, the fuel tank capacity has been reduced to 36 litres. It is a steel tank, allowing it to be pressurized, necessary when petrol is not used for longer periods, as the car can be used in electric mode day after day when regularly charged. The rear seat has also been raised by 30 mm

Luxury and elegance…

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The 225xe we tested looked quite pleasing with “Glaciersilver” paint and light beige “Dakota” leather, dubbed “Canberrabeige”. The interior and instrumentation carries very well the typical BMW design language, which is very well timelessly honed, perfected and continued into contemporary and forthcoming BMW cars. We also liked very much the wood inserts “Fineline Stream” with inserts in “Perlglanz Chrom”. It brings this ambiente of sporting luxury so typical for BMW…

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The “Luxury” model we tested sported park distance control, and Driving Assistant Plus. It has collision prevention and camera based cruise control. A Navigation Plus system with head up display was also included, and the central LCD 8,8 inch display is a model of clarity.

…with an excellent chassis

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The xDrive system distributes the power expertly between the front and rear axle to control over- and understeer, with the BMW Performance Control controlling power with adjusted and specific braking to improve traction and surefootedness in corners. The four wheel drive layout of the 225xe makes it a very enjoyable and safe car to drive of course…

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The Driving Experience Control allows to choose between the Comfort mode, but one can also opt for the ECO PRO or the Sport mode. In ECO PRO mode, the manufacturer states, consumption will be reduced by as much as 20 pct. We noted that this mode manages available power quite smartly, with even a very subtle and smooth coasting function, indeed quite impressive!

The 225xe can be driven spiritedly and with verve, and the chassis follows any of your wishes. This BMW steers absolutely precise, and the car can be “placed” into corners ideally, enhancing certainly your personal driving style. Nevertheless, this 225xe remains quite comfortable, and yes, we drove it in comfort mode most of the time, as the BMW will react immediately also in this mode, when you put your foot down.

Practical

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The 2 series BMW is also a very useful people carrier, offering good luggage and passenger space. The batteries on this 225xe take very little space in the rear, and indeed, one can enjoy a flat boot floor, with rear seats being foldable separately. The boot space is only reduced by 70 liters to 400 liters.

Conclusion

This 225xe combines e-driving with performance and driving pleasure in a sublime way, and shows dramatically how entertaining hybrid propulsion and driving can be. Of course, one also enjoys the “zen” like smooth quietness of electric engine power, together with impressive economy.

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Its plug-in versatility makes it ideal for our modern megacities in the coming decades, providing nevertheless also long range high-speed transport, still very essential for use in our European continent, taking into account the present state of our e- or hydrogen infrastructure… So it proves to be ideal energy-conscious transportation for years to come!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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