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BMW i5 – An EV beyond the competition

By Blake Boland - 21st Apr 2024

BMW i5

The BMW i5 is an all-electric version of the German brand’s motoring icon. It is an executive saloon, with all the class and luxury that you would expect from BMW. The M60 is the high-performance variant that has gut-punching acceleration.

Aesthetics

BMW are currently balancing almost perfectly upon that line in the sand that demarks aggressive styling and refined beauty. Their cars and SUVs show a flair made up of sharp lines and acute angles. The i5 is no exception.

The i5 is almost imperceptibly all-electric. From all angles, it shows presence.

Inside, the i5 has a classic feel to it, laced with modern twists for the electric age. The crystal-effect rotary knob for the gear selector and multi-coloured ambient lighting fit snugly with plush leathers and finely crafted buttons.

Size

The i5 is a substantially sized vehicle. Next to its bigger brother, the i7, it doesn’t carry the same presence. However, this is an executive saloon that stretches past the five-metre mark in length and weighs in for its bout with the roads at 2.4MT.

Despite the size, you don’t get the corresponding space inside. The boot is 490 litres, which is plenty for the golf clubs and a couple of suitcases, but is not exactly cavernous. For a bit of context, that is smaller than the Tesla Model 3 and only 70 litres more than the Nissan LEAF.


In motion is where the BMW i5 starts to sing

The five-metre length allows BMW to stretch the cabin, and comfortably fit five adults. As with most cars, that central passenger in the rear might feel the pinch on a long drive but, overall, there’s plenty here. And let’s face it, if carting around a young family and dogs are your priority, there are other BMWs in the stable that are more suitable.

Range and charging

Range and charging are key when considering an electric vehicle (EV). You don’t want to spend potentially over €100,000 and not be able to drive the car across the country. The i5 can’t just look good; it has to perform here also.

The news is good (not incredible, but good). The i5 has an 81.2kWh usable battery. That gives you a WLTP range figure up to 516km. Although possible if you massage it around, that figure is a little optimistic. Something in the region of 400-440km is what we would reasonably expect on average.

The good news is that the i5 will charge quite well. It comes with 11kW AC charging as standard, but you can option the 22kW. On a DC charger, which are those faster ones that you see at garages around the country, the i5 can hit 206kW, and average 137kW over a charge from 10-to-80 per cent. So on the right charger, you’ll get from 10-to-80 per cent in just under a half-hour.

Driving

Let’s get to it now, because, in motion is where the BMW i5 starts to sing. And I don’t use the word ‘sing’ lightly as it actually has a soundtrack orchestrated by Hans Zimmer! This is a good time to remind you that we were testing the M60 version. This is the fast one.

Let us hit you with some numbers… 601hp, 820Nm of torque, and a 0-100km/h time that feels undersold at 3.8 seconds. A great feature of the electric motor is that it gives you access to all the power immediately. BMW, perhaps more than any of the other luxury brands, have made this feature work superbly well.

When you want all the power, it features a ‘boost’ paddle behind the steering wheel. Press this, and the i5 gives you the acceleration you need. It is quite the experience. The acceleration is excellent. Thanks to how well the i5 is engineered to drive, you don’t feel out of control. Instead, you get comfort from the poise of the suspension and weight of the steering wheel.

So, just how good is the i5 overall?

In a word, brilliant. It’s not perfect, however. I’ve yet to be convinced that building electric variants on the same platform as combustion gives the EV driver the most from the car. There could be more space inside considering its length. A big battery takes attention off efficiency figures that could be better.

Having said that, when you get behind the wheel of a machine like this, you won’t care about some of those gripes. What the BMW i5 does well, ushers it beyond the competition and makes it stand out as a wonderful thing.

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