How green are the new BMW cars?

Charging up the BMW 225xe

Charging up the BMW 225xe - Credit: Archant

German sporting executive brand BMW has evolved into a champion of greener motoring, launching a raft of eco champions this year

BMW 225xe and BMW 330e

BMW 225xe and BMW 330e - Credit: Archant

Although BMW has always cultivated a sporting image with its ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ advertising strapline, the upmarket German brand might also claim the phrase covers many of its other facets.

Not least its eco heritage, highlighted by the excellent EfficientDynamics programme, which introduced brake-energy recovery and other green tech to the wider consumer market.

But BMW also developed a hydrogen-powered vehicle nearly 40 years ago and an electrically powered saloon in 1972 and proclaims its green credentials – or blue, as the Germans prefer – loudly this year with a raft of new models.

These include follow ups to its i3 supermini and i8 supercar electric and range extender electric models; the latter is where a small internal combustion unit is used simply to charge batteries en route rather than power the car.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Mercedes-Benz E-Class - Credit: Archant

But while these grab headlines for innovation, it is the new Plug-in-Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) and the more efficient conventional engines that will grab volume.

The star here is the new 330e (from £33,935) PHEV saloon based on darling of the executive classes, the ubiqitous 3 Series, joined by the BMW 225xe Active Tourer MPV (from £32,545), both followed later by the BMW 740e and the 740Le xDrive luxury models – the latter pair targeting plutocrats who like to show they are in touch with their green side.

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But the 330e is the ‘real world’ model to watch with its fuel and emission-saving Efficient Dynamics technology fitted as standard and a claimed official combined fuel consumption of 148.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 44g/km – not even close to the 100g level that incurs road tax.

If required, it can still live up to the marque’s traditional Ultimate Driving machine heritage too: a 184hp 2.0-litre petrol engine plus 88hp equivalent electric motor delivers 0-62mph in just 6.1 seconds.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep Grand Cherokee - Credit: Archant

Persistent profligacy there, however, will deplete the hi-tech lithium-ion battery pack snugged beneath the boot so as to offer the same lugging capacity as a conventionally powered 3 Series Saloon.

Like its BMW 225xe counterpart, the 330e offers three driving modes: default is AUTO eDRIVE, optimising both engines’ outputs and limiting maximum electric speed to 50mph.

MAX eDRIVE uses electric power only, with a top speed of 75mph. Again self-explanatory, setting number three is the petrol power only SAVE BATTERY, allowing battery power to be maintained or topped up for later use in town or where congestion/pollution measures might be in place, ideal for commuters.

Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Defender - Credit: Archant

BMW 330e Saloon

Price: from £33,935

Driving appeal: *****

Image: *****

Space: ****

Value: *****

Running costs: ***** (estimated)

Reliability: ****

How green?: *****

Best rival: VW Golf GTE

E-Class evolution No5

Mercedes-Benz founded its modern-day business on the model now known as the E-Class, but it was not until 1993 that this label was first used. The latest and fifth generation E-Class is arriving now, priced from just under £36,000 and available at launch in SE and posh plus sporty AMG trim, with engines including an advanced all-aluminium four-cylinder diesel.

Jeep marks 75 years

Off-road brand Jeep is celebrating a big birthday with a smart line-up of 75th Anniversary limited editions. They range from one based on the Wrangler – the car most closely related to the original Second World War ‘battlefield taxi’ – to the US marque’s new kid on the block, the Renegade. 75th Anniversary Cherokee and Grand Cherokee (pictured) models are also on sale.

Lock up your ‘Landies’

Shocking statistics from insurer NFU Mutual show thefts of Land Rover Defenders have soared by 75 per cent. The hike has been caused by specialist gangs targeting rural areas to source the classic ‘Landie’ model for resale or spares, following the end of production in January, causing NFU Mutual to team up with the stolen vehicle recovery expert, Tracker.

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