You won't find powerful petrol or diesel engines - once much sought after in the Bavarian 5 Series family - in the price list of the new generation. In Europe there is only one Schmalhans offering of pure combustion engines with the 520 logo on the rear. Customers should rather choose the two electric versions of the BMW i5 and the 520i, 520d and the two plug-in hybrids 530e and 550e are still on offer primarily for fleet customers. The Munich-based company makes the decision to get into the basic electrician even easier than with its big brother, the 7 Series.
The 5 Series design is a complete new start, because nothing reminds us of its successful predecessor and with a volume model from the luxury class you can't afford any visual extravagances like the higher-class 7 Series. The design is pleasing, worth seeing and definitely dynamic. The supposed basic engine in the BMW i5 eDrive40, which costs at least 70,200 euros, fits perfectly because the electric motor on the rear axle produces 250 kW / 340 hp and a maximum torque of 430 Nm. No wonder that the stately 2.2-ton sedan pushes hard when the chauffeur requests it. This applies not only from a standstill, but at any speed, provided you are not traveling too fast on the motorway, because here the BMW i5 eDrive40 makes a painful mistake; an embarrassment that no one would have expected of him. The powerful business sedan is electronically limited too early at 193 km/h - this would have been unthinkable in the past, because in the over 300 hp league the limit was always 250 km/h. And even if you don't want to thunder along the highways of southern Germany in full-throttle smoke, you have to admit one thing: 193 km/h is a very poor speed for the class and performance of a BMW i5. A few years ago, weren't people at the company headquarters on Munich's Petuelring joking about the 180 speed limit imposed by Volvo and Co.?
But apart from this embarrassing mistake, driving in the electric BMW i5 is a real show because it is relaxed and comfortable, incredibly quiet and has an excellent chassis. Depending on the drive program selected and the selection in the equipment list, this is sometimes sporty and tight, sometimes comfortable and always very confident and casual. Just as you would want from a luxury sedan. But even the sensitive chassis, good steering and powerful brakes cannot hide one thing: the i5 is a true colossus with more than 2.2 tons on its stylishly packaged ribs. A few fast corners and despite the low center of gravity, the driver is aware of the extra weight when the four-door car noticeably pushes over the front axle in fast corners. Meanwhile, the precise control shines with its finely adjusted restoring forces and the damping ensures that the Bavarian never falters. The consumption depends heavily on the wheel/tire combination and the driving style. BMW promises a standard thirst of 15.9 to 18.9 kWh per 100 kilometers, which promises a range of between 500 and 580 liters with the 81 kWh battery pack in the underbody. The later all-wheel drive brother or the top version of the BMW i5 xDrive60 have significantly fewer. It's annoying that the charging speed isn't the best, because it stops at 205 kW because the corresponding 800 or 900 volt technology is missing on board. If things get tight, you can select the “Max Range” emergency program, which increases the range by another valuable 25 percent by reducing power and comfort functions.
The seating position and space in the 5.06 meter long electric five-seater are definitely convincing, but the Bavarians make things a little easy for themselves when it comes to the display technology. The two slightly curved 12.3 and 14.9 inch screens are razor sharp, but for a new car from the 2024 model year they are a bit underwhelming and have been installed in almost everything from BMW for years. Compared to the competitors from Europe and Asia, the displays could be a little larger and a screen for the front passenger isn't even available for an extra charge. However, the customer can order a highway assistant for this. It's not level three highly automated driving, but at least you no longer have to take your hands on the wheel up to 130 km/h and can put your hands in your lap. However, the freedom you gain cannot be used because you have to keep your eyes on the road, even if you can overtake as if by magic by looking in the exterior mirrors without manually signaling.