The most popular business sedan in the world has been completely renewed and is now also available electrically. So time for the first test of the BMW i5.
The BMW 5-series is extremely popular in the Netherlands, and the funfer is also doing well worldwide. Since 1972, BMW has sold more than 10 million copies of the various generations of the 5 Series. The 5 Series has plenty of space, drives well, has modern technology and is (reasonably) affordable, but not cheap. You can see the contrast in the last sentence, but for a premium brand that is important. You also want to radiate a bit of success, probably also the reason why quite a few 5-series in the Netherlands are equipped with an entry-level engine, but do have the M package.
Multiple powertrains, one platform
BMW has two models that are specifically built on an electric platform, the i3 and the iX. With the Vision Neue Class they will soon have a platform on which they will build many more electric models. For the time being, however, BMW is focusing heavily on platforms where both cars with combustion engines and fully electric versions can be built. In a market in transition, that seems to be the best choice for the time being; you can have more petrol or more EVs off the production line depending on demand.
Electric 5-series (i5), 5-series mild hybrid petrol, plug-in hybrids and even diesels will soon roll off the production line at the BMW factory in Dingolfing. It is difficult to say which variant will be the most popular. It all depends on whether the EU, the Dutch and Flemish governments are fully committed to encouraging electrification.
The BMW i5 eDrive40
It is the entry-level model for the time being, but the i5 eDrive40 is anything but lame. The electric motor on the rear axle has 340hp/400Nm. That is only if you use the Sport Boost (0.8 seconds of pulling the paddle behind the steering wheel) or the Launch Control. Without that function, the i5 eDrive40 has 313 hp….
The i5 eDrive40 sprints to 100 in exactly six seconds. It feels smooth, but due to the lack of sound and switching points you would swear that it is slower. At higher speeds, acceleration drops somewhat. With the top speed of 193 km/h, you won’t score much on the autobahn.
A bit rougher is the i5 M60, which BMW also allowed us to take along for the test. The appearance gets the more or less well-known M-performance sauce. The BMW Iconic Grille (with lighting) will not be to everyone’s taste, just like the high-gloss black horizontal elements in that grille. Personally, I thought it was a bit too much and not very coherent, but then I’m getting old. Side skirts and mirror caps in high-gloss black, 20-inch M wheels, diffuser and optional M-sport spoiler lip complete it.
The i5 M60 has xDrive: there is a 261 hp electric motor on the front axle, and the e-motor on the rear axle has 340 hp. The total system power is 601 hp and the i5 M60 sends a maximum of 820 Nm to the four wheels. The M Sport Boost or M Launch Control function must again be used, otherwise “only” 517 hp / 795 Nm is available.
The i5 M60 sprints to 100 in 3.8 seconds. Somewhat hilarious is the M Launch Control, which throws a kind of explosion over the sound system after releasing the brake. It’s completely unnecessary, but funny. And very simple: even though there are plenty of electric cars with more power, this is more than enough. The top speed is also limited to 240 km/h.
And what about the regular 5-series?
There is good and bad news. Of course, there will also be 5-series with a combustion engine, but thanks to the strict EU rules regarding CO2 emissions, we no longer get all engines. The four-cylinder 530i and the six-cylinder 540i will not come to the EU, thanks Frans.
Fortunately, there is still something to choose from, for now from two PHEVs and two mild hybrid variants. The least popular in the Netherlands will undoubtedly be the 520d (xDrive), which undoubtedly drives wonderfully with 197 hp and 400 Nm. With a sprint of 7.3 seconds to 100 km/h and a top speed of 233 km/h, it is not exactly tough.
That is not the case in the 208 hp entry-level 520i. It is slightly slower at top speed and sprint (7.5s/230 km/h), but with a starting price of 65k it is also a lot more affordable than the 520d. All these variants have a 48-volt Mild Hybrid system and an 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission.
For a price of €70,272 you can also get into the 299hp/450Nm 530e (6.4s to the 100). Six-cylinder enthusiasts will have to switch to the 550e xDrive for the time being, which has 489 hp / 700 Nm. For €83,349 you can sprint to 100 in 4.3 seconds and you can reach 250 km/h on the autobahn.
A six-cylinder diesel will follow in 2024 and there will be an extra xDrive version of the electric i5. And oh yes, there will be a plug-in hybrid M5, with the drivetrain of the BMW XM.
Great comfort, good dynamics
The best-selling business sedan in the world must offer enough comfort, but not turn around like a wet newspaper. That is a rather subtle task, so it does not work well for every manufacturer. BMW has a reputation to uphold and starts with the good ingredients. The track widths have increased and weight distribution is almost a perfect 50/50.
Speaking of weight: the flexible architecture with different drivetrains also means that the curb weight can vary considerably. BMW has therefore invested quite a bit of energy in the individual chassis tuning for the different versions. During the test I was only able to drive the fully electric BMW i5, so a judgment on the other variants will have to wait a while.
The base really feels particularly good. The suspension comfort is certainly exceptional, both versions filter out bumps as if they were not there. Almost every BMW i5 or 5-series will have an adaptive component in the chassis, which you can expand to your heart’s content as long as your wallet allows it. The different modes give a clearly different feeling, but don’t expect your i5 to become a rock-hard and razor-sharp device in Sport mode.
The i5 M60 with the optional Adaptive M Suspension Professional and the Active Roll Stabilization with Active Roll Comfort and on top of that Integral Active Steering is of course sharper than the i5 eDrive40. The M60 also rolls marginally lower on the roads: a difference of 8mm.
i5 M60 very good, but not playful
Sometimes you don’t want to give away the whole story in the headline, but this summarizes the i5 M60 quite well. It’s just like the i4 M50: thanks to electric motors on both the front and rear axles and undoubtedly super smart software, the i5 M60 transfers all the power very effectively to the road.
It is really incredible how early and sometimes aggressively you can hit the gas, all the electronics in the i5 ensure that you are thrown out of corners. Very impressive. And you feel it coming… Your input behind the wheel is limited: aim in the right direction and the i5 M60 will take care of the rest. It’s very, very good.
Steering with the accelerator pedal, a small or a large drift, the i5 M60 does not allow that. It is unimportant if you are looking for mobility, but with a BMW and especially with an M-performance model you expect a little more.
Accu, range en loaded BMW i5
BMW’s choice to integrate different drive concepts on the same platform can lead to poorer packaging. The relatively slim battery with higher energy density does not take away any significant interior space.
The battery pack has a usable (net) capacity of 81.2 kWh. In the BMW i5 M60 this leads to a maximum WLTP range of 516 km, the i5 eDrive40 does slightly better with a maximum range of 582 km. Compared to the i4, BMW managed to make the i5 slightly more economical, a difference of about 0.2 kW per 100 km. These are not Goliath’s steps, but every step is another one.
At home or at the regular public charging station, the i5 eDrive reaches 11 kW via three phases. The i5 M60 even has 22 kW, and the i5 eDrive40 can do that too for an additional charge. Fast charging peaks at 205 kW, allowing the battery to charge from 10-80% in 30 minutes. Or to use another statistic: in 10 minutes an additional 156km range is added.
BMW tries to make the life of the electric driver better with all kinds of things. With Plug & Charge you no longer have to use your charging card and nowadays this is also possible with multiple cards. A heat pump is standard, which makes a serious difference in the range in winter. The heat from the e-motors is used to preheat the battery when you fast charge. You can also turn on this function yourself and the time required will be displayed.
The interior of the BMW i5 and 5 series
It is a disadvantage for BMW that I like the outgoing 5-series so well (Autoblog Garage article of the 530i). Some things are clearly better, but in terms of materials, BMW has taken a clear step back for the 5-series. Where previous generations of 5 and 7 series were close to each other, there is now a clear difference in quality. Door panels and dashboard in particular are less attractive and cuddly.
The completely vegan interior almost convinces you never to want real leather again. Veganza almost has the properties of leather, but its production has 85% less CO2 emissions. On the other hand, perhaps we should now go back to beautiful velvet or wool, when leather is out of the question.
As with most electric cars, it can have a nice panoramic roof, but it cannot be opened. Now, I’m not a fan of the noise and banging, but I still regularly see other people driving around with the roof open. No longer in the new BWM 5 series and i5.
Diehard BMW drivers will miss even more: the number of buttons has been reduced. You search in vain for buttons to adjust the following distance of the adaptive cruise control. That handy bar with number buttons to which you could assign anything: gone in 60 seconds. Shortcuts on the screen are supposed to alleviate the suffering, but of course they don’t.
Just like in the BMW i7, the i5 gets the BMW Interaction bar as standard, on the 5-series it becomes an option. It is an LED strip with touch buttons, which are all around you in the interior. Not everything works equally well, although the feedback with colors in the strip is sometimes useful.
Well-known from other modern BMWs is the 12.3-inch Information Display and a 14.9-inch Curved Touch Control Display. It runs the latest version of the BMW iDrive system with ‘QuickSelect’ and BMW Operating System 8.5. BMW develops (in Lisbon) a large part of this software in quick sprints. The functionality has already improved in recent years and BMW gives us the feeling that they will continue to maintain that speed of updating.
Price and conclusion BMW i5 test
If you want a normal car, but it happens to have an electric drivetrain. BMW is the right place for that. The Mercedes-Benz EQE is a different animal and not quite the same as an electric E-class. There isn’t much else, unless you like to take a chance and choose a new (Chinese) brand and/or secretly go for an SUV.
The price tag of the BMW i5 is high: the eDrive40 starts from €77,572, the i5 M60 xDrive starts from €108,427. That is serious money, especially with the additional tax that has risen sharply on EVs. If you consider that a 520i costing 65k probably also drives wonderfully…
As the first real business sedan, but coincidentally electric, the BMW i5 scores great there. Still much better finished than Tesla or the Chinese and with great driving behavior. And to think that there might also be a BMW i5 Touring. That has to be a hit, right?
This article BMW i5 eDrive40 and M60 – test and video first appeared on Ruetir.