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First drive: BMW i5 Touring. Image by BMW.

First drive: BMW i5 Touring
BMW turns its electric 5 Series into the expected Touring estate. Any good?

   



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BMW i5 Touring eDrive40

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Fully 33 years on from the first version, the BMW 5 Series Touring is going electric, with the same rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive options as you get in the i5 saloon. Will its extra boot space be enough to tempt British buyers out of their SUVs?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW i5 Touring eDrive40 M Sport
UK pricing: 76,355 as tested; from 69,945
Powertrain: electric - 250kW rear-mounted electric motor with 81.2kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmission: automatic gearbox - single-speed, rear-wheel drive
Body style: five-door estate
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Energy consumption: 3.5-3.7mi/kWh
Electric range: 342 miles
Top speed: 120mph
0-62mph: 6.1sec
Max power: 340hp (in Boost mode)
Max torque: 430Nm (in Boost mode)
Boot space: 570 litres all seats in use, 1,700 litres rear seats folded
Kerb weight: 2,255kg
Towing capacity: 1,500kg

Styling

Not everyone loves the looks of current BMWs, and that's OK. It's fine to like or not like different things - life would be pretty dull if we all just liked the same stuff - and BMW is sitting pretty on solid global sales of its current range, so if you don't like the way the i5 Touring looks, then that's just dandy. It is a somewhat polarising design, albeit not to the same extent as the iX or i7, but in the Cape York Green paint of our eDrive40 test car (or better yet, the blood red with black carbon bits applied to the M60 version we drove...) we reckon this is a pretty handsome thing. The exterior dimensions are as per the saloon, so this is a big car - breaking the five-metre barrier - but the only external difference is the longer roof and the tailgate. Actually, it's worth noting that this is the first BMW 5 Series Touring that doesn't have an opening rear glass screen in the tailgate. That's a decision that's been taken for sound engineering reasons - aerodynamics, boot volume, visibility - but we're still sad that it's gone. The standard 19-inch alloy wheels look a little underfed in the i5's arches, so you'll probably want to go for the optional 21-inch rims fitted to our test cars.

Interior

BMW has kind of quietly worked its way past Mercedes and Audi in terms of cabin design and quality to become the leader of the German pack, and this i5 Touring is a perfect example. Again, as with the exterior, not everyone's a fan (that crystal-look light bar is definitely a point of argument) but there's no denying that it has the Mercedes EQE well and truly beaten in terms of quality, and it makes Audi's rigorous black-and-chrome look seem rather cold and uninviting.

As standard, the i5 Touring comes with 'vegan' leather upholstery (do you think BMW knows we know that means plastic?) but our test cars had the gorgeous upgraded Merino leather.

The big screens - 12.3 inches for the driver's instruments and 14.5 inches for the infotainment - are combined into one sweep that runs across the dash, and they look great (all expensive graphics and swoosh animations), but the menu system can take some time to find your way around and the lack of proper physical buttons for climate control is annoying. You can use the still-physical iDrive click wheel of course, which does help a bit when you're on the move. The head-up display is also excellent.

Practicality

As far as the front and back seats are concerned, nothing has changed in practicality terms relative to the i5 saloon. The front of the cabin feels a little snug at times, and the likes of the door bins and the storage box under the front armrest could be bigger, but it's fine. The almost-three-metre wheelbase means that there's generous legroom and headroom in the back, albeit there's no extra headroom for the Touring as the roof sits at the same height as that of the four-door.

The boot is very good, though. At 570 litres, it's considerably larger than that of the saloon (which musters 490 litres) and with a simple tug of some handles in the boot, the back seats plop forward, leaving a large flat loadspace with no loading lip and 1,700 litres of space. Better yet, although there's no 'frunk' in the nose, there is an underfloor storage space in the boot which swallows your charging cables and the boot's luggage cover. It might be posh, but this i5 Touring is properly practical and useful.

Performance

In choosing between the eDrive40 and the M60 versions of the i5 Touring, you're basically choosing between 'brisk' and 'sweet suffering Jebus'. There's a little paddle marked 'Boost' that looks like a gearshift paddle behind the steering wheel, but which simply allows access to all the power and torque of which the electric motors are capable. Tug that in the eDrive40, and you get 340hp and 430Nm of torque, complete with an on-dash ten-second countdown before everything goes back to normal. In Boost mode, the eDrive40 will scamper to 62mph in 6.1 seconds, which feels entirely brisk enough. Once you're rolling, you're unlikely to feel at any stage that the single electric motor, driving the rear wheels of course, has anything less than entirely ample power for everyday driving.

Of course, then there's the M60... tugging the Boost paddle in that unleashes 610hp and 820Nm of torque, and a 3.8-second 0-62mph run that feels like someone has added a Saturn V booster rocket to the big roller coaster at Blackpool. The M60 has utterly vicious acceleration, and frankly at full beans it feels pretty uncomfortable. Switch everything over to Efficency mode via the selectable driving modes and it still feels like a savagely fast car, certainly as quick as you'd want any car to be on the public road.

Both cars use the same 81.2kWh battery pack, which charges at speeds of up to 205kW on DC power, and optionally up to 22kW on AC. Both models also suffer slightly from what seems like underwhelming range. In mixed driving, the eDrive40 should just about top 310 miles of range, while the M60 will probably manage about 280-290 miles or so. However, if you're a long-haul motorway driver, you'll most likely find that those ranges will contract considerably, to more like 220-250 for the eDrive40, which is only OK, especially considering how far a Mercedes EQE goes at motorway speeds (albeit, the EQE isn't available at all as an estate).

Ride & Handling

As ever with a big-battery electric car, weight is a limiting factor for the i5 Touring. That said, it's really only in tight slow corners that you'll feel the bulk of either version. On more open roads, the i5 Touring feels imperious, with steering weight (albeit not feel) that's just right, and seriously good body control. There's air suspension on the rear and double wishbones at the front, and both of our test cars came with adaptive dampers (standard on the M60, optional on the eDrive40) and while the i5 isn't quiet as pin-sharp as you might ultimately hope, what it does do is strike a remarkable balance between twisty-road entertainment and main-road refinement. Even on the big optional wheels, this is a seriously refined and comfortable car, and it's that in-built dual personality - combined with the usefulness of the boot - that arguably makes the i5 Touring a more enticing buy than the saloon.

Value

The i5 Touring is a big car with a big price tag. OK, so maybe 69,945 for the basic Sport version isn't as outrageous as once it might have been, but it's perilously easy to spec one of these up beyond 80,000 and even 90,000, never mind the 99,995 asked for the M60, sans equipment. You do get reasonably generous standard kit though, including the vegan leather, the big screens, heated seats, parking assistant, adaptive cruise, and adaptive LED headlights.

Verdict

In a world so enamoured of SUVs, the i5 Touring might be a slightly difficult sell, and it would probably help if its range was just that bit more emphatically long-legged in all conditions. Even so, this is a hugely appealing car, with a bewitching combo of space, poise and speed that we reckon will be top of discerning buyers' lists.



Neil Briscoe - 28 May 2024



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








 

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