What is your opinion regarding luxury hybrid SUVs? Which is the overall winner based on economy, standard gear, value, space and performance? I’m looking at the Mercedes GLE 500e, BMW X5 40e and Volvo XC90 T8. Vu Via Plug-in hybrids are a smart buy for those who travel relatively short distances to and from work. They promise the best of both worlds — electric driving for up to 30km with the back-up of an internal combustion engine to allay range anxiety. These three have a big physical footprint and weigh more than two tonnes, yet match or better the thirst of a Toyota Prius. We’re quoting makers’ fuel claims but it is worth comparing your potential purchases on the greenvehicleguide.gov.au site where the vehicles are rated for electrical consumption per kilometre … and the Volvo doesn’t do as well as the fuel figure indicates.
Mercedes-Benz GLE 500e, $124,900 The Benz wins the pace race at an impressive 5.3 seconds from rest to 100km/h. At that point you are tapping into a combined 325kW/650Nm from the electric motor and the 3.0-litre V6 turbo. The regular GLE’s 690L cargo area drops to 480L here because Benz, not unreasonably, put the batteries in the boot. The extra loading height may be an issue with heavy items. Drop the seats and cargo space is 1800L. Claimed fuel economy is 3.3L/100km using premium fuel. Active driving aids are standard and the Benz rides on air suspension. BMW X5 40e, $124,200 It trails the opposition with a claimed 6.8 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint. The 2.0-litre turbo engine pairs with an 83kW motor for a combined 230kW/ 450Nm, claiming 3.3L/100km if you’re not trying to match the sprint time. The X5 wants 98 RON fuel, as does the Volvo. Cargo capacity is 500L, growing to 1720L with the rear seats folded. Lane departure alert and what BMW calls “light city braking” are standard, along with a 10-inch infotainment screen. The X5 also rides on adaptive air suspension. Volvo XC90 T8, $120,900 The Volvo cedes a little on boot space at 430L but more than atones with seven-seat capacity. Fold everything flat and it wins with 1868L. The XC90 was engineered as a hybrid and the batteries are packed along the chassis rather than making the cargo area smaller or higher. The 2.0-litre twin-charge engine, in concert with the electric motor, can crank out 300kW/640Nm. That dispatches the 0-100km/h run in 5.6 seconds. Claimed fuel use is just 2.1L/100km (good luck with that in the real world). Rear cross-traffic alert and autonomous emergency braking are among the standard features yet the likes of digital radio can only be found in the options.
Porsche Cayenne S E-hybrid, $145,500 Combined power from the supercharged 3.0-litre and 70kW motor is 309kW/590Nm, delivering a 0-100km/h time of 5.9 seconds. Official fuel use is 3.4L/100km. Luggage space is 580L, expanding to 1690L with the rear seats folded. Active driving aids are a conspicuous omission in this company — you’re meant to drive a Porsche, not have a Porsche drive you — but the rest of the package is on a par and the cabin, while festooned with more buttons, looks and feels hand-built.
If you can afford it,the Porsche is the best all-round drive. If the budget doesn’t stretch that far, I’d look closely at the BMW on the basis it is a marginally better drive than the Mercedes. It might just depend on what value you put on the badge.
BENZ GLE VOLVO XC90