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New BMW 5 series arrives with all-electric i5. Image by BMW.

New BMW 5 series arrives with all-electric i5
You can choose between 340hp and 610hp(!) i5 models…
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What's all this about?

In essence, it’s the new BMW 5 Series, but like the 7 Series before it, customers are getting the electric version first. Following on from the i4 and the i7, it wears the i5 badge and will arrive in the UK later this year, alongside more conventional combustion-engined models.

BMW gunning for Tesla, is it?

You could say that, and the recent cancellation of right-hand-drive Tesla Model S production might open a window of opportunity for this new i5. It comes with an 82.1kWh battery, which should give it enough juice for a 361-mile range on one charge.

That’s what BMW is claiming for the entry level i5 – the eDrive40 version – which uses a rear-mounted electric motor to send 340hp and 430Nm of torque to the rear wheels. That’s good enough for a 0-62mph time of 6.0secs.

The i5 will also be available in high-performance M60 form, which uses two electric motors for four-wheel drive, and has… wait for it… 601hp. That, combined with the 820Nm of torque you get when you pull the ‘Boost’ paddle behind the steering wheel, will get you to 62mph in just 3.8secs. You won’t get as much range in the M60, of course, but it’ll still go a claimed 320 miles on one charge.

That’s bonkers quick. Has BMW given it, er, ‘interesting’ styling though?

A bit, but it’s nowhere near as in-your-face as the i7 nor the XM plug-in-hybrid SUV. The grilles are a little more prominent and angular than they were on the old 5 Series, but they’re not hideously big. Even so, BMW is pushing the styling envelope a little with this 5 Series. It’s a big car — more than 5.0-metres long now — and so the designers have used a lot of angles and lines to try and hide that bulk. It definitely looks best in M60 guise, with its aggressive blanked-off grille.

What about the inside?

If you’ve seen the interiors of the new i7 and the iX electric SUV, there’s nothing much here ot surprise you. There’s the same big, sweeping, curved screen on top of the dashboard, which houses the 12.3-inch instrument panel and the 14.9-inch infotainment screen.

There’s also an upgraded ‘Highway Assistant’ digital driver’s aid, which can allow you — where the law permits — to take your hands off the wheel for extended periods. There’s also an automated lane change assistant that uses eye-tracking software to know which side of the road you want to switch to. The big screen now gets movie streaming services and video games — you use your phone as the controller — to keep you amused while you wait for a charging point. Oh, and you can also use that phone as a remote control for the entire car, backing it in and out of tight parking spaces for up to 200 metres.

Speaking of charging…

Actually, there’s some good news on that. As standard, the i5 charges at 11kW on AC power, but you can upgrade that to 22kW AC charging, which is great for making the most of those kerb-side chargers. For DC high-speed chargers, it can cope with up to 205kW, which gives you a 10-80 per cent charge in 30 minutes. And if your battery is running low and you just need a bit extra to get home or get to a charger, there’s a ‘Max Range’ function which dials back all non-essential systems and limits the top speed to give you as much as a 25 per cent boost in available range.

What if I, erm, 'dislike' batteries?

Well, there will be combustion-engined models. There’s a new 520i with 208hp (thanks to a 48-volt mild-hybrid system) and CO2 emissions of 130g/km, and a 520d diesel, with the same mild-hybrid, 197hp, and 133g/km of CO2 (you can have that in four-wheel drive xDrive form too). In 2024, we’ll see two plug-in hybrids — a 530e and a 550e — and another all-electric i5, with four-wheel drive, but without the M60’s gargantuan power output. Oh, and 2024 sees the debut of the new Touring estate model, which you’ll be able to get in combustion and electric forms.

Neil Briscoe - 24 May 2023

2024 BMW i5. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5. Image by BMW.

2024 BMW i5. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5. Image by BMW.    - BMW road tests
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