New BMW i5 unveiled: the first pure-electric 5 Series

BMW’s executive saloon juggernaut gets an EV variant and it’s on sale this year from £73,000

BMW has been using a twin-track approach on electrification for some time, mixing combustion power with pure electric on several of its vehicles, but this could be the most important model yet – the new 5 Series-based BMW i5. 

Both the regular 5 Series and the i5 are due to go on sale in October and a more practical ‘Touring’ estate version of each will join the range in 2024. The i5 enters the all-electric executive saloon sector which already has the likes of the Mercedes EQE, Tesla Model S and Genesis Electrified G80 available to UK buyers. 

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The entry-level i5 will be rear-wheel-drive eDrive40, priced from £73,200, which has a single electric motor with 322bhp and 430Nm of torque. That power comes from a 81.2kWh battery – enough, BMW says, for a 0-62mph time of six seconds and a range of between 296 and 362 miles, depending on spec. It can be charged at up to 205kW, allowing a 10-80-per cent refill in half an hour.

The flagship of the whole 5 Series range – at least, until BMW’s M division comes up with its expected hybrid M5 – will be the i5 M60 xDrive. As its name suggests, it has a motor on each axle for four-wheel drive and a combined output of 593bhp and 820Nm of torque. It can reach 62mph in 3.8 seconds and a limited top speed of 143mph, but since it mixes this extra grunt with the same battery capacity, its range drops to between 283 and 321 miles.

Following BMW’s established strategy for it’s electric models, there aren’t too many design changes between the petrol-powered 5 Series and the i5. The styling is also an evolution of what’s gone before – as is usually the case on one of BMW’s cornerstone vehicles. The front has slimmer headlights than previously and, in line with the firm’s recent designs, a larger front grille – but the car is still clearly recognisable as a 5 Series. The grille itself is blanked off to improve aerodynamic efficiency. The 10cm gain in length over the old G30 5 Series gives the Mk8 model a slightly more rakish profile, though, particularly around C-pillar and boot.

The ICE and EV models’ similar exterior design extends to the interior as well. Both use BMW’s double-screen instrument panel and infotainment set-up. The dials continue to be housed in a 12.3-inch display, but the curved panel now features a larger 14.9-inch infotainment system towards the centre of the fascia.

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BMW’s ‘Interaction Bar’ features as well – also seen on the 7 Series and i7. It’s a slim, backlit control panel that runs across the entire dashboard and into the front doors, and allows passengers to adjust the ventilation and seat settings. The centre console has been cleaned up, too, with a small toggle gear selector instead of a traditional stick shifter.

The cabin is completely vegan as standard – even in the entry-level version – with leather-like Veganza used on the seat upholstery and, for the first time at BMW, a vegan material on the steering wheel. BMW plans to continue offering its Merino leather upholstery as an option, however. The i5’s boot space stands at 490 litres – down 30 litres on the petrol 5 Series. 

For an alternative view, see our sister site DrivingElectric's coverage of the BMW i5…

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