Home' Motoring Plus : September 21st 2016 Contents 8 —THE NELSON MAIL Wednesday, September 21, 2016
BMW starts hybrid charge
BMW has a new entry point for its plug-in
models. The 225xe still isn’t cheap, but it’s
pretty clever, reports David Linklater.
Plug-in Active Tourer has gained 250kg thanks to all those batteries - but it’s still the quickest version you can buy in New Zealand. Note the extra flap for electric charging on the front guard.
The Active Tourer’s cabin is well equipped, but still seems
a bit dowdy by the standards of other premium brands.
You can mix and match three ‘eDrive’ modes with the
usual BMW Eco Pro, Normal and Comfort settings.
ook the family to the
movies in the BMW 225xe
this week. Unplugged it in
the garage, drove into the
city in near-silence, save a faint
Star-Trek hum surrounding the
car, did our thing and arrived
back home to plug in again for the
Thing is, nobody said a word
about the car. That surprised me.
I realise that we motoring
writers are privileged to
experience the latest automotive
technology all the time and
therefore so are our families.
But what my domestic
experience with the 225xe did
suggest was that although plug-in
cars are still relatively rare in
New Zealand (the total fleet is just
over 1700 as I write), they’re no
longer really a thing.
Nobody took much notice
when I plugged the little BMW
(which looks just like a standard
Active Tourer) in at my local
shopping centre, either.
Electric cars are no longer
cause for a double-take and/or
So really, the concept is mature
enough for us to stop saying wow-
it’s-got-a-plug and think more
along the lines of what-can-it-do-
for-me? That’s good.
The technology is still more
associated with premium brands,
because it’s still relatively
But for the record, the 225xe is
the cheapest BMW plug-in you
can buy at $68,500. It’s also
cheaper than any EV-capable
model from Audi, or Mercedes-
Benz’s just-launched plug-in
It’s a combination of
practicality (that’s the Active
Tourer’s reason for being
anyway) and clever technology.
This model series is based on
the Mini platform; so it’s front-
drive and because it’s tall (‘Active
Tourer’ is actually BMW-code for
‘people mover’ I think), it’s a
surprisingly spacious family
vehicle for something that’s less
than four-and-a-half-metres long.
It has big glass areas and a rear
seat that’s split 40/20/40.
Except it’s not strictly front-
drive, because while the three-
cylinder turbo engine does indeed
power the front wheels, the e-axle
is hooked up to the back. So it can
also be rear-drive or all-wheel
It takes about four hours to
charge the 225xe on a domestic
socket. BMW claims 37km electric
range, but it’s more like 20-25km
based on my week (27km was my
But that’s still more than the
average Kiwi commute.
You can lock the powertrain in
Max eDrive and the petrol engine
won’t fire up unless you put your
foot right down. You can leave it
in Auto eDrive and let the car do
the thinking, or select Save and
preserve the battery for later use.
The 225xe is a whole different
thing from BMW’s ‘‘other’’ plug-in
small car, the i3, because it’s an
electrified version of a
conventional model rather a
But it’s impressive in its own
right. You can debate the $8k you
have to pay over the conventional
218d turbo-diesel all day, but the
225xe gives you that zero-
emissions commuting ability and
it’s a lot quicker. The argument
for electric cars isn’t just about
running cost. At least not yet.
The 225xe still not the ideal
choice for a lot of long-haul
driving compared with other
Active Tourer models, because
once the battery is depleted
you’ve got a small petrol engine
hauling a car that’s 250kg heavier
than it needs to be. And the fuel
tank is 15 litres smaller in plug-in
form (just 35 litres total).
Don’t take any notice of the
mandated fuel economy figure of
2.1 litres per 100km, because that
includes a full charge (unless
you’re going to plug in every
100km on a trip).
But the 225xe should still be
good for well over 500km once
you’ve depleted the battery. Just
don’t expect to match the 5.1 litres
per 100km of the conventional 218i
with the same petrol engine,
because the 225xe is so much
heavier. The 225xe isn’t Mini-agile
- or at least it’s not as close as the
The plug-in has heavier
steering and brakes, which seems
like an attempt to cover up the
dynamically corrupting effects of
weighty batteries and
regenerative braking, through
But there are compensations:
it’s the fastest of the Active
Tourer bunch, you get the benefit
of AWD traction when required
and even if it doesn’t want to
dance, the superior weight
distribution keeps the 225xe
planted through fast corners.
As an electric incarnation of
the Active Tourer, the 225xe is
It’s arguably a lot more
interesting than either the 218i
and 218d, but still very practical.
You do loose 70 litres in
bootspace thanks to the battery
pack, but the cargo area remains
generous at 400 litres.
Having the rear seat raised
30mm doesn’t hurt headroom at
all for adults. Might even be an
improvement; just ask the kids.
The most disappointing aspect
of the 225xe is the one that afflicts
all Active Tourers: the interior is
nicely finished but inescapably
dowdy and dated-looking
compared with small cars from
Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.
That’s simply a generational
thing, but many of BMW’s cabins
could do with a spruce-up.
Compare the latest X1 SUV with
the Active Tourer and you really
get a sense that there’s a smart
new design sense at BMW... and it
hasn’t reached the 225xe yet.
While we’re on the subject of
those new generations, it’s no
secret that the X1 rides on the
same Mini-derived platform as
the Active Tourer.
A plug-in version of the X1
called the xDrive25Le has just
been launched in China, based on
a long-wheelbase version of the
SUV and using exactly the same
powertrain as the 225xe.
Surely an electrified version of
the standard-length X1 we have
here is a no-brainer for the
factory? Watch this space.
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