Plug And Play

8 min read
Plug-in hybrids offer the best of both worlds when it comes to the current evolution of electric vehicles. Here are two latest models that push the envelope of technology and performance.

1. BMW 530E PLUG-IN HYBRID

The Bavarian automobile company is no stranger to electrified vehicles, having launched and refined both the pure electric i3 and plug-in hybrid i8 for several years now. Their plunge into the bridging segment of plug-in hybrids fill the gap in their stable of cars, and the BMW 530e plug-in hybrid sedan is as fine as any in their range to embrace this technology.

As a matter of practicality, plug-in hybrids just make sense, at least until our entire country is wired for cost-effective charging of totally electric cars. Plug-in hybrids have both a petrol engine and an electric motor that is charged from a wall socket or charging station. Efficiency is obviously better in these sorts of vehicles when compared to totally fuel combustion ones, and is comparable to full hybrids.

While charging of the BMW 530e may be done from any public charging station in Singapore with Type 2 AC charger, the BMW Wallbox is highly recommended for charging at home. Obviously, owners will need to have a dedicated space in their garage to do this.

The BMW 530e is a luxury sport sedan for the eco-conscious. The hybrid system sees a 184hp petrol engine partnered with an electric drive unit (with a maximum output of 80kW/109hp) that is integrated into the eight-speed Steptronic transmission. Furthermore, BMW’s XtraBoost helps to lift the car’s power to a respectable 292hp of maximum system output, which is more than enough to zip through traffic and highways on this island. Acceleration from 0 to 100km/h takes a decent 5.9 seconds, which is not half bad for a family four-door.

The 5 Series being one of BMW’s best-selling cars, the 530e comes with many of the top tech features the brand is known for. Just some of the elements on tap are the BMW eDrive incorporating an intelligent electric management system used with the lithium battery, cruise control with braking, and BMW Driving Experience Control to customise the dynamics of the vehicle to the driver.

Visually, the plug-in hybrid in the new BMW 5 Series sports a sleek façade. When compared to the previous generation, the kidney grille sits lower, and is wider as well as taller. Headlights are slimmer and provide for a new take on the familiar. Lights in the rear have an L-shaped graphic with black edging. Brake lights are now integrated into the light fixture. The trapezoidal exhaust pipes here define the new 5 Series and add a high-tech facet to what is already a very smart-looking car.

Inside, the Dakota leather found on the seats and steering wheel provides all the luxury you need in an urban saloon. There are 11 different ambient light designs to choose from to match your mood anytime of the day or night. The 10.25-inch Control Display matches seamlessly with the newly designed controls on the centre console. Multifunction buttons on the steering wheel further lets you manage all your display needs without compromising safety.Like all variants in the new BMW 5 Series range, the 530e boasts the new BMW Operating System 7, which offers extra digital services like BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, allowing you to ‘ask’ your car to execute certain commands, or even check, “Is the oil level okay?” Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also available wirelessly. With the BMW Digital Key, drivers can unlock their cars and start driving by placing their compatible iPhone or Apple Watch in the designated tray and pushing the start button. And for a touch of the future, the Remote Software Upgrade allows improved vehicle functions and additional digital services to be imported into the car wirelessly, helping launch the BMW 530e into a sphere that transcends its plug-in hybrid prowess.

PRICE  $299,888 (with COE)
ENGINE  1,998CC INLINE 4-CYLINDER PLUG-IN HYBRID
TRANSMISSION  8-SPEED AUTOMATIC
POWER  292HP @ 5,000–6,500RPM
TORQUE  420NM @ 1,350–4,250RPM
0–100KM/H  5.9 SECONDS
DISTRIBUTOR  PERFORMANCE MOTORS LIMITED (Tel: 1800 225 5269)

2. VOLVO XC90 RECHARGE PLUG-IN HYBRID

Volvo’s Recharge range is making headways in the hybrid arena, and the new Volvo XC90 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid is an ideal vehicle if you want a full-size SUV without the bugbear of heightened fuel consumption and environmental concerns.

This seven-seater is certainly one of the handsomest full-size SUV in the market. The exterior is a nice balance of stateliness and a sporty disposition. The iconic Thor Hammer LED headlights accentuate the car’s Swedish roots, while the side lines flow elegantly from front to rear. Twenty-inch 10-Spoke Black Diamond-cut alloy wheels further add a sporty countenance to this do-everything car.Volvo’s 2.0-litre T8 Twin Engine with plug-in hybrid technology offers power without the baggage of high fuel consumption and emission, and the supercharged and turbocharged four-litre engine provides all the power you need for an effortless and consistent response.

One of the car’s key features is the wide range of driving modes available: Pure uses only the electric motor; Power combines both electric and petrol for high performance; Hybrid (the default) lets both the electric and combustion engine work together to maximise efficiency and minimise emissions; All-Wheel optimises all-wheel drive functions in all driving conditions; Off-Road lets you traverse challenging terrain; and Individual lets you customise modes to suit your personal preference.

This being a Volvo, safety is up front and centre. City Safety allows the car to combine automatic braking and collision avoidance systems to accommodate different potentially dangerous situations. For the first time, City Safety allows the car to automatically brake to mitigate oncoming collisions, such as when the car senses another vehicle heading directly towards you.

Blind Spot Information, Cross Traffic Alert, and rear collision warning come together to make up the Volvo’s IntelliSafe Surround feature. This integrated feature uses radar sensors to avoid accidents with other road users all around the car. In addition, the 360-degree camera helps to make parking easier by providing a bird’s-eye view of the car and its surroundings.

One unique aspect to note is the new Volvo Care Key. The system allows any driver to restrict top speeds to between 50 and 180km/h, and is standard in all Volvo models from 2021.

Safety and performance aren’t the only highlights of the XC90 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid. The interior exudes a sophistication and appointment that reflect Volvo’s pursuit of design, ergonomics and an attention to detail and functionality. The 12.3-inch fully graphical adaptive driver display combines with the nine-inch iPad-style infotainment touchscreen to give drivers all the information they need for a full driving experience. Sun blinds for the rear side windows and the large, panoramic sun roof allows everyone within the luxurious interiors to enjoy a customised association with the outdoors, while the tinted glass is specially treated to reduce heat and UV radiation. Added touches of sophistication include Nappa leather upholstery, inscription floor mats, grey ash or blackened ash trimmings, and an Orrefors crystal gear shifter.

Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system further integrates car functions, navigation and in-car entertainment apps like Spotify and Tunein with smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to give drivers the connectivity they desire to go along with the performance and fuel efficiency of the powerful hybrid performance.

PRICE  $400,000 (WITH COE)
ENGINE  1,969CC INLINE 4-CYLINDER SUPERCHARGED AND TURBOCHARGED PLUG-IN HYBRID
TRANSMISSION  8-SPEED AUTOMATIC WITH ELECTRIC ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
POWER  402BHP (COMBINED)
TORQUE  640NM
0–100KM/H  5.6 SECONDS
DISTRIBUTOR  WEARNES AUTOMOTIVE PTE LTD (Tel: 6473 1488)

3. RANGE ROVER SPORT PLUG-IN HYBRID

Land Rover pulled out all the stops on the Range Rover Sport’s offerings lately, with new engines to meet different desires. One of these is the Range Rover Sport P400e PHEV, which provides 41km of electric vehicle range with zero tailpipe emissions and a fuel economy of 3.2l/100km (WLTP figure). Not bad for a car that weighs in at over 2,400kg. Needless to say, this plug-in hybrid is the most fuel-efficient Range Rover Sport in the stable.

Fuel efficiency doesn’t mean a compromise in power. The P400e’s Ingenium petrol engine is capable of 300PS, putting out 404PS when combined with the 105kW electric motor. The plug-in hybrid is capable of getting from 0 to 100km/h in 6.3 seconds. Charging is also a breeze with the Range Rover Sport PHEV. You can get a full charge in under three hours from a wall box or public charging port.

Drivers can rely on the car’s other intelligent features to help them drive even more efficiently. The Intelligent Plug-in Hybrid Display is integrated with Touch Pro Duo and the Interactive Driver Display to tell you how efficiently you’re driving. It also gives you real-time information about how the electric motor is working alongside the petrol combustion engine.

Aesthetically, the Range Rover Sport variant is one of the handsomest looking one in the range. The lines are sleek and stylish, yet possess an understated air of luxury. From the side, the powerful front block — so dominant in the Range Rover line — flows seamlessly towards the rear, enhanced by the sporty spoiler on the roof. The result is a car that looks as good parked in front of a five-star hotel as it does taking on the trails in a national park.

The PHEV, together with its brethren variants, boasts enhancements to connectivity and security. Apple Car Play and Android Auto is now standard, and drivers and passengers can stay connected through the up to eight 4G Wi-Fi connections available.

Given these pandemic times, drivers and passengers would be happy to hear that the Range Rover Sport’s Cabin Air Ionisation system now offers PM2.5 filtration. This can be activated by hitting a button within the touchscreen system. Not only does the system filter out fine dust particles and allergens, it also neutralises odours.

Note: Available on indent basis; specifications may vary, and you can configure them to your preference.

PRICE  AVAILABLE UPON CONFIGURATION
ENGINE  1,997CC INLINE 4-CYLINDER PETROL ENGINE WITH 105KW BATTERY
TRANSMISSION  8-SPEED AUTOMATIC 4-WHEEL DRIVE WITH PADDLE SHIFT
POWER  404PS @ 4,000RPM
TORQUE  640NM @ 1,500–4,000RPM
0–100KM/H  6.3 SECONDS
DISTRIBUTOR  WEARNES AUTOMOTIVE PTE LTD (Tel: 6378 2626)

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