2021 BMW 545e xDrive gives new 5 Series a flagship plug-in hybrid

BMW has detailed its flagship 5 Series hybrid, with the 2021 545e xDrive Sedan pairing an engine enthusiasts love with a jolt of electric assistance. Top of the five model plug-in hybrid range in the new 5 Series, the 545e xDrive uses its power pairing to deliver 600 Nm of torque, or 443 lb-ft in total.

That's combined with 394 horsepower from gas and electric motor working together. The former is a 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo straight six-cylinder that contributes 286 hp, while the latter adds 109 hp of its own.

BMW xDrive all-wheel drive is standard, as is an 8-speed Steptronic transmission. Top speed is 155 mph, and the 545e xDrive can do up to 62 mph in electric mode only. 0-62 mph arrives in 4.7 seconds.

A 400V lithium-ion battery is backed under the rear seat, and is sufficient for up to 35 miles of electric-only driving, BMW says, according to the WLTP cycle. We'd expect less from the EPA's range testing. Of course, most driving will be done in Hybrid mode, one of four drive modes the car offers.

In Hybrid, the 545e xDrive makes the decision between gas and electric itself. Though EV-only driving is prioritized, the gas engine will kick in at higher speeds, or when more power is required. It'll also tap into the navigation system, looking to topography of the upcoming route and other driving conditions to figure out the best balance of gas and electric.

Hybrid Eco Pro mode, meanwhile, adds in features like coasting, along with more aggressive energy recuperation when braking. Electric mode locks the drivetrain in EV-only operation, though with limits on speed on range. Finally, Sport mode keeps both systems active, with more aggressive transmission shift mapping.

Outside, you'd have to look closely at the badging – or spot the second hatch covering the charge port – to tell the difference between this 5 Series hybrid and its gas-only counterparts. What might distinguish it better is the acoustic pedestrian protection, for which BMW turned to composer Hans Zimmer. It's played through an external speaker at speeds of up to around 19 mph, to warn them that an otherwise-quiet EV is approaching.

On the inside, there's the same technology and creature-comforts as in the other 5 Series models. The new infotainment system supports hybrid-specific features like public charging point locations – with availability forecasts, nearby cafe and restaurant recommendations, and even the ability to reserve a spot in some cases – along with BMW eDrive Zone to automatically switch the 545e xDrive to electric-only when it enters an urban low-emission zone.

No word on pricing or release date for the 2021 BMW 545e xDrive, nor whether the automaker will be bringing it to the US at this stage.