BMW has confirmed its 5-series hybrid will only be available in saloon/sedan form when it goes on sale next year. The saloon will also be the first right hand drive hybrid the automaker has built.

Speaking at the launch of the new 5-series Touring [aka estate car/wagon], a BMW spokesman said the hybrid would only be built as a saloon because the 40kW battery’s position and size prevented the installation of folding seats. The saloon would lose a small amount of boot/trunk space in hybrid form because of the battery pack.

While BMW has revealed few details of the 5-series’ hybrid specification first confirmed by chief executive Norbert Reithofer last month, the spokesman added the car will not be the most efficient car in the range. Instead, BMW is expected to offer the hybrid as a ‘clean but performance’ variant because it will use the three-litre petrol engine from the 535i with the 520d remaining the most fuel efficient model in the range.

BMW already sells a mild-hybrid 7-series model in left-hand drive markets.

The redesigned 5 series touring has luggage capacity of 560 litres rising to 1,670 litres when the 40 : 20 : 40 split folding rear seats, said to be unique in this segment, are all folded down.

The rear window can be opened separately, continuing a feature of the model since its first generation in the 1980s.

Tristan Young contributed