19 March 2024
BMW i5 eDrive40 Review – Optimum Opulence

The BMW i5 presents a thoroughly convincing case for itself, and for prospective buyers who are thinking of making the jump to EVs.

This is probably one of the most anticipated vehicles in recent history – the 8th generation BMW 5 Series. Dubbed the G60, it follows in the footsteps of a famed legacy, a car that its creators believe is still one of the world’s most beloved executive saloons.

I mean, with 10 million units sold since the first generation launched back in 1972, you cannot argue with success.

But, things are different now, and electric is the new fancy word these days. Therefore, this is also the first time the 5 Series has launched with an electric counterpart, the i5.

The new boy is pitted against stiff competition like the Mercedes EQE, Porsche Taycan and Polestar 2. It’s a crowded room all right, but can the BMW i5 stand its ground against its rivals?

Subdued Wealth

The biggest difference between this G60 5 Series and its bigger G70 7 Series sibling is the omission of a comically large front grille.

Certain BMWs are deliberately ‘louder’ than others (think BMW XM, BMW i7), but the 5 Series is thankfully spared. It may look more subdued and conservatively styled as a result, but I dig this facade more, as it stays true to what is quintessentially BMW.

The kidney grille is modestly sized here but gets the Iconic Glow illumination as standard on this M Sport variant.

This traditional design doesn’t hinder performance too; drag coefficient is just 0.22-0.23cd across the range. This is thanks to innovations like an Air Flap control system that opens intakes in the grille and an Air Curtain that directs turbulent air past the front wheels.

Lightweight alloy wheels also help enhance range, and the omission of tailpipes adds to that sleek dominant look.

The new 5 Series has had a growth spurt too. It’s now over five metres long, with a wheelbase 5mm shy of three metres. Park up next to an older 7 Series, and most people will get confused this is actually a 5-ver.

Plush Innards

BMW has been on a roll with its Curved Glass display, first seen in the iX, and now it’s making its mark in the i5 with some notable upgrades and fresh interior elements. 

The Curved Glass setup features a 12.3-inch instrument cluster blending seamlessly with a 14.9-inch infotainment screen.

It’s also rocking OS 8.5, boasting new graphics, a crisp start screen, and a ‘QuickSelect’ feature that adds shortcuts to key menu items; a very useful addition in practice, since most folks only dabble with audio and navigation.

BMW’s also introducing in-car gaming to the 5 Series with AirConsole. Simply scan a QR code on the Curved Display, and your smartphone transforms into a game controller. BMW offers 20 built-in games, with more on the way. It’s a neat way to pass the time while waiting for your i5 to charge, as BMW openly admits.

New to the i5 (and the 5 Series) is the Interaction Bar, making its debut on the 7 Series. It’s a bit more subtle here, but it’s still a backlit unit that spans the dashboard’s width.

It’s got a crystalline look, flirting with a hint of bling without going full Versace. The trim below it can be customised in aluminum or carbon fibre too.

The Interaction Bar lights up for phone calls or to signal if it’s safe to exit, and can be tweaked to your liking in the My Modes menu. However, I do feel it does go a little overboard sometimes, especially when you turn the hazards on.

The air conditioning controls is another area that the i5 feels foreign. Car designers have been trying to hide air vents for ages without sacrificing function, and even though the touch controls are responsive, the controls for the vents can be frustrating for users who aren’t accustomed to its unorthodox design.

The centre console control panel gets a makeover for the 5 Series, housing the iDrive controller (though you’ll likely use the touchscreen more), a redesigned drive selector switch, stop/start button, My Modes button (Personal, Sport, Efficient), parking brake, and, thankfully, a physical volume control. 

Wireless charging comes standard, and you get a Harman Kardon audio system with a 205-watt amplifier. There are four USB-C ports, with the option to add more.

The 5 Series is BMW’s first vegan model, featuring a leather-like material called Veganza. It covers the seats, dashboard, and door panels. Merino leather is also available for those who want the real deal.

The seats are supportive, with electric adjustment and heating as standard. The rear seats split 40:20:40, and while the regular 5 Series has 520 litres of boot space, the i5 has 490 litres due to its rear axle drive unit.

Silent Comfort

When it comes to the BMW i5, its driving characteristic sings a familiar tune – and that’s not a bad thing. Following in the footsteps of the i4, iX, and i7, the i5 is another addition to the competent stable of electric BMWs.

Even if you’re someone who’s deeply acquainted with BMW’s internal combustion engines, especially those charismatic straight-sixes, you might feel a twinge of nostalgia with the way this car handles.

The 5 Series rocks BMW’s modular Cluster Architecture (CLAR), the foundation for all their bigger models. The double-wishbone front axle and five-link rear axle have been fine-tuned for better refinement, and it shows its worth when pushed enthusiastically. 

The i5’s vibration dampening and acoustics are top-notch, keeping errant noises at bay as you trundle silently along. M Sport suspension is standard, so the springs, dampers, and anti-roll bars are all set a bit firmer. It might feel a tad firm on bumpier roads, but for the most part, it just glides over the bumps like they’re not even there.

This EV is as dynamic as executive saloons come. The eDrive40 is quick without being overly aggressive, rewarding sharper inputs without pushing you to drive like a maniac. It’s more about enjoying the luxurious interior and giving your occupants a smashing ol’ time than throwing the car into corners.

The brakes and regen blend so seamlessly that you hardly notice them, a far cry from what you find in most Mercedes EQ models. Whenever the need arises to prove you’re the fastest off the line, a ‘boost’ paddle shift gives you a 10% energy boost for 10 seconds when you need it. 

Of course, the new 5 Series is packed with every kind of assistance imaginable, including Evasion Assistant and Crossroads Warning with brake intervention.

You can even park the car using your smartphone. Manoeuvre Assistant uses GPS and trajectory data to pull off complex parking moves. Or, you know, just park it yourself.

Range anxiety isn’t an issue either, with the 81.2kWh battery giving sufficient coverage for easily a week’s worth of driving. I managed around 22.2kWh/100km, which equates to about 4.5km/kWh, and this was with driving that wasn’t exactly nursing the throttle.

Expect better returns with less liberal use of the boost paddle.

Luxury Defined

The BMW i5 is a great executive EV saloon. Sure, there are small issues I may dislike with the car, and the tech can come off as a little too aspirant, but these are tiny compared to the overall user experience.

BMW was confident they could combine the dynamism from the 3 Series with the opulence from the 7 Series, and they pretty much nailed it.

Best of all, the price for the i5 is pretty competitive against its rivals, and it feels like you’ve got your money’s worth. 

In a crowded room full of executive EVs, the BMW i5 really makes a strong case for itself. Can’t argue with success, right?

Technical Specifications

BMW i5 eDrive40

Engine: Single Electric Motor
Power: 250kW (335bhp)
Torque: 400Nm
Gearbox: Single-Speed (A)
0-100km/h: 6 seconds (claimed)
Top Speed: 193km/h
Battery Capacity: 81.2 kWh
Drive Range: 582 km (claimed)
Energy Consumption: 5.1 km/kWh (claimed)

Price: S$370,888 (eDrive40), S$381,888 (eDrive 40 M Sport), both with COE (accurate at the time of this article)
Contact: Performance Motors / Eurokars Auto

Photo Credits: Sean Loo (@auto.driven)

Read more automotive news at AutoApp, or check out our latest videos on Ignition Labs TVand on TikTok!