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First drive: 2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive. Image by BMW.

First drive: 2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive
Will the high-powered version of BMWs new i5 electric saloon be the variant of choice, or will lowlier models prove better value?

   



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2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive

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We've tried the less powerful i5, and come away suitably impressed, but now it's the turn of the more potent, more expensive M60 xDrive version. Billed as an M car in the electric 5 Series line-up, it promises more dynamism and power, but will that make it a more compelling proposition? And will it justify its asking price of almost 100,000?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive
Price: From 97,745
Engine: two electric motors
Transmission: single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Battery: 81.2kWh lithium-ion battery
Power: 601hp
Torque: 820Nm
Emissions: 0g/km
Range: 283-321 miles
0-62mph: 3.8 seconds
Top speed: 143mph
Boot space: 490 litres

Styling

Like the i5 eDrive40, the M60 xDrive's styling isn't all that radical, but there are more differences to mark out this range-topping model. The most powerful i5 gets a different, sportier grille with a black surround, and there are slightly different bumpers and door mirror caps. The whole car sits a little lower, too, thanks to its model-specific suspension set-up that sees the ride height reduced by 8mm compared with the eDrive40. It's a subtle change, but it gives the M60 xDrive a bit more intent and aggression that suits its position at the head of the i5 range.

Interior

Although the M60 xDrive is more performance-orientated than the eDrive40, it doesn't feel all that different inside. Sure, there are some subtle styling tweaks and some different graphics in the touchscreen, but otherwise it's business as usual.

You get the same wide, clean dashboard design with a crystalline plastic ambient lighting system, and you get the same Curved Display that offers a touchscreen and a digital instrument cluster in one housing. It's one of the better infotainment systems on the market, thanks in part to its logical menus and clear displays, but also because it comes with the iDrive rotary controller that makes navigating the screen much easier when you're on the move. As with the eDrive40, the screen still houses all the climate control functions, which is a bit of a pain when you're trying to drive, but the touchscreen functionality is much better than in some competitor models.

On the plus side, though, the quality is much the same as in the eDrive40, so while a few plastics feel a little cheap, most of the switchgear, materials and touch points feel really strong and robust. Add in the soft vegan leather you get as standard (you can have the real deal as an option) and it feels every inch the premium product.

Practicality

Because the M60s cabin is so similar to that of the eDrive40, the practicality credentials remain unchanged. Both cars have the same 490-litre boot 30 litres smaller than that of the basic 520i petrol model and considerably smaller than that of the Mercedes-Benz EQE. However, interior space is ample, with loads of room at the front and a great driving position, while theres bags of rear legroom and even enough headroom for tall passengers to sit comfortably in the back.

Performance

Unlike the eDrive40 version of the i5, which has a single electric motor on the rear axle, the M60 xDrive version has two motors providing all-wheel drive and a mammoth 517hp. Or, in its sportiest setting, 601hp for short periods. That's quite a lot, and it means despite the heavy battery giving it an unladen weight of just over 2.3 tonnes, this version of the i5 gets from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds. Flat out, it'll travel at a limited top speed of 143mph.

That power isn't just down to the twin motors, though, because powering it all is an 81.2kWh lithium-ion battery that offers a range of between 455 and 516km on a single charge. Naturally, that isn't as impressive as the eDrive40's rang of up to 362 miles, but it isn't bad for such a fast and weighty car. And when the charge is exhausted, the battery will charge at speeds of up to 205kW, theoretically permitting a 10-to-80-per-cent charge in half an hour.

Ride & Handling

Despite its weight and size the i5 is still a 5 Series, so its hardly compact the M60 xDrive is quite a nimble thing. Like the eDrive40 model, it has fantastic balance, but the M60 version adds a fraction more body control courtesy of its lower, slightly stiffer suspension. The difference isnt enormous, but the M60 is that fraction quicker to turn into a corner, with the body following the front wheels slightly more eagerly. The steering is great, too, and that gives you plenty of confidence when youre positioning the car on the road.

That comes in handy when the M60 snaps, and it can kick a little when pushed hard. With that much power heading to the wheels even with all-wheel drive the i5 is more than capable of stepping out of line, particularly in greasy conditions. But its so intuitive and controllable that it isnt a big drama, and its fairly easy to sort out.

Credit must also go to the M60s brakes, which are much more powerful than those of the eDrive40 and therefore inspire more confidence. Just a squeeze of the pedal sees the car slow more rapidly, even though its a little heavier, and that abundance of braking power makes you much happier to push on with the other pedal.

There are just two catches, and one is significantly more troublesome than the other. The lesser evil is the ride, which is a little firmer than that of the eDrive40, and that means its slightly less comfortable at low speeds. Its still quite supple at motorway speeds, though, and it never really threatens to be properly uncomfortable. If were being generous, wed say the wheels give you plenty of feedback.

The second issue is more of a problem, and its a difficulty shared with the eDrive40: the safety kit. The speed limit assistance tech is unreliable and irritating, buzzing at you whenever it deems you have exceeded the prescribed limit, and regardless of whether its right. Its the single most irritating feature of the car, and though you can turn it off, it comes back on the minute you switch the car off and on again.

Value

Whereas the eDrive40 version of the i5 comes in at just over 74,000, you're looking at spending almost 98,000 on the M60 xDrive. If all you want is all-wheel drive, that's a hefty price to pay for it, but if the performance is what matters, it doesn't look so bad. After all, you can still buy the outgoing M5 Competition, but it'll cost you 111,425 and it's only a little faster than the most potent i5. On that basis, it isn't terrible value, and it certainly comes with plenty of equipment, including the screens, reversing camera and climate control that's standard across the range. It gets the M60 xDrive styling upgrade, too, and a few choice specification tweaks.

Verdict

Whereas the i4 M50 xDrive felt like it spoiled the eDrive40's good work, the i5 M60 xDrive feels much more like a development of the i5 recipe. Yes, it's expensive, and yes, nobody needs it to be this fast, but the improved brakes and the sportier attitude give you a reason to choose it over the standard car. For most, though, we expect the eDrive40 to offer much better value for money.



James Fossdyke - 2 Oct 2023



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2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive. Image by BMW.

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive. Image by BMW.2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive. Image by BMW.








 

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