While the first two plug-in vehicles from BMW - the i3 and i8 – were easy to identify and remember, things have gotten a bit more complicated in the era of the iPerformance line-up, which started this July. Less "out there" than the i3 and i8, the iPerformance plug-in hybrids take standard BMWs and, with an emphasis on performance (it's right there in the name, after all), add an electric motor and a battery. The latest example is the new BMW X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance, which was just unveiled in China.

The plug-in X1 is a compact luxury SUV, BMW says, that uses a 10.7-kWh li-ion battery to go up to 37 miles on electricity. With the pack, BMW says that the X1 iPerformance can be quite frugal, burning just 1.8 litres of gas per 100 kilometers. In the US, we like to think of that as 131 MPGe, but different test procedures means that this isn't the number that the EPA would assign the SUV, if it were to be sold here. It won't so, let's just go with 131 MPGe.

The performance side of the xDrive25Le means a 0-62 miles per hour time of 7.4 seconds and can drive electrically at speeds of up to 75 miles per hour. But that's only when the driver selects Max eDrive mode. In the default Auto eDrive mode, the SUV, "intelligently selects either a single or a combination of energy sources to maximise the combined energy efficiency with ease." In the real world, that means that electric drive cuts off at speeds above 50 mph. Above that speed, or when the driver stomps the accelerator, "the system activates the petrol engine automatically, letting both power systems work in tandem with each other to supply ample power and deliver the superior driving performance expected by the driver." There's also a Save Battery mode if you want to keep your zero-emission miles for use in the city.

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