BMW released details on the ActiveHybrid 5 some months ago, but the car turned up in person at the Tokyo Motor Show. The ActiveHybrid 5 is BMW's first hybrid with an I-6 as its internal combustion engine; all of the previous ones used a twin-turbo V-8. The ActiveHybrid 5 on the other hand is powered by the turbocharged 3-liter I-6 from the 535i coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission, with a 55-hp and 155 lb-ft of torque electric motor sandwiched between the two. Peak power output is 335-hp and 330 lb-ft of torque.
One of the most interesting features of the ActiveHybrid 5 in Tokyo is that its navigation system is linked to the drivetrain, allowing the ECU to power up the battery to help the car over a steep hill, and then charge it going down the other side. Sounds good in theory anyway.
Fuel economy is expected to offer a significant improvement over the 535i’s 21/31 mpg city/highway rating. The BMW ActiveHybrid 5 goes on sale in March. Pricing has yet to be announced and it'll be interesting to see if BMW follows Toyota, Honda and Hyundai's lead and keep the price competitive with the gasoline-powered model. The new Camry hybrid offers 39/41 mpg for $25,900, 30 percent better than comparable gasoline models. —Paul Duchene