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In fact, at litres the latter is a full litres down on a regular 5-series, and BMW is also unlikely to offer a Touring estate version of the e in the UK.
Passenger space is more impressive, and the interior itself a masterclass in contemporary luxury. Back to those numbers, and the bhp power output of the e puts it 10bhp behind the d diesel. Charging, incidentally, takes 3 to 4 hours depending on the power source and will give a pure electric range of up to 31 miles.
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Or, if those charging cables seem like too much of a faff, BMW is also working on a wireless induction system for later this year or early next, although whether buyers will want to stomach the cost of having it fitted is yet to be seen. With the new 5-series being such a fine all-rounder the bar has been set very high indeed.
On electric power it is supremely quiet, as well as being fast enough for most situations. Smarter still is how the hybrid system works in conjunction with the satnav to plan where best to deploy battery power on a given journey for maximum efficiency.
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This is useful technology, seamlessly deployed. On the whole, performance is good, with strong acceleration when petrol and electric combine, although it can take the gearbox a second or so to respond to sudden demands for full power.
It is no larger than the typical car in this class, but somehow looks sturdier. Inside, the distinctive design continues. Of the three cars in our test, the XC40 has the most minimalist look. Volvo has achieved this by handing over responsibility for the majority of controls to a touchscreen. Volvo refers to the speaker positioning as Air Woofer technology, which sounds like an ideal feature for dog owners.
All we know is that with the optional Harman Kardon audio system, the sound quality is better than being in the front row of an Abba reunion gig. The aesthetic qualities are a cut above the BMW and Lexus. Glance around and it all looks cool, feels solid and reminds you that Volvo has really found its mojo of late.
And just as some German car makers are licking their wounds from one scandal or another. The boot is a good, square shape and comes with a ski hatch, 12V power sockets, catches to fold down the seat backs, and a false floor. So far, so practical. What about the driving experience? As the representative for pure petrol power in this group, the XC40 features a 2-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine with bhp, which is channelled through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and an all-wheel drive system.
It is, in this company, something of a star. Silent at idle, smooth throughout the rev range and packing plenty of performance to make effortless progress, it serves to remind drivers just how much more pleasant petrol engines are than nearly all, equivalent four-cylinder diesel engines and hybrid powertrains.
The rest of the package is impeccably behaved. The handling is tidy and the ride comfort is better than the BMW or Lexus. It also makes an outstanding long distance cruiser, thanks to that refined and punchy engine.
However, the electronic lever for the automatic gearbox can irritate, as it required a double-push or pull to switch from Drive to Reverse, or vice versa. The only cause for alarm was the autonomous emergency braking system. It was a relief, on both occasions, that there was no traffic following, and serves as a reminder that such semi-autonomous systems are not yet a match for an alert driver.
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Unfortunately, alert drivers seem to be hard to find these days. This is a chilled, confident SUV that goes its own way and feels all the better for it.
A plug-in hybrid, known as the T5 Twin Engine, is joining the XC40 range in the future but for now, anyone looking for an alternative to diesel should start their search here.
The designers at Lexus have thrown a lot at their smallest SUV and the result is a car that stands out of the crowd and, judging by our experience, will have the neighbours coming round for a better look. It starts with the grille, which has enough plastic in it to have David Attenborough leaving protest flyers under the windscreen wipers. Yet, with the Nike-swoosh shaped daytime running lights creating some interesting angles it succeeds in grabbing attention without turning stomachs.
This theme continues all the way round the car. Walk around it and your eyes are kept busy taking it all in. Lexus has come a long way, since it was launched in Originally, a lot of drivers were drawn to it for the simple reason it was an alternative to German cars. The design theme is carried through to the dashboard.
Instead, the infotainment system is controlled by a track pad, which some owners have nicknamed the faff pad. Like anything, it just takes some getting used to, but to our mind, the rotary dial, as fitted to the BMW X1, is the most intuitive thing to use and, in turn, the least distracting. There are big sporty-looking, aluminium-effect pedals, the driving position is good and you grasp a chunky steering wheel, while much of what you can see is wrapped in thick, nicely stitched leather.
Like all these cars, the boot is a good size even with the optional cage we had fittedhas a false floor and carries a space-saver spare wheel, and it comes with a 12v power socket and tie-points. But the back seats can only be lowered using handles inside the back doors, built in to the seat base.
Enough about the boot… what about the promise of the technology that lies beneath the floor — the petrol-electric hybrid system? Instead, it charges its high voltage battery via the 2.
It asks nothing of the driver — good to know for those weighing up a switch from diesel.
It also calculates when best to engage the two electric motors, when to use the engine, and when to combine the two. In other words, it takes care of everything for you. You can switch to an electric-only operating mode, but the range is little more than a mile at best.
There are three driving modes — Eco, Normal and Sport — and as with all these cars, Normal works the best.