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Is BMW's 5-Series Hybrid better than a diesel?

There are things BMW are known to do well. High-revving, thumping M engines, for starters, then there is the handling balance from their sweet rear-drive chassis, the clean ergonomics inside and a dozen other things besides.

But you don’t know BMW for hybrids. Correction: you don’t know BMW for hybrids that make any rational, practical or ecological sense.

There have, until now, been two of them on BMW’s books. Both of them are based around the V8 engines in the X6 and the 7 Series and neither of them contribute anything useful to the car world as a whole and, what’s more, contribute it at considerable additional cost to those few people who fell for them.

But BMW has always admitted its V8 hybrids were a toe-in-the-water to sort themselves out for more-credible hybrids that were to come. And the first of them is the 5 Series ActiveHybrid.