BMW i5 Review & Prices
The BMW i5 is the first ever all-electric BMW 5 Series. It’s a superb car, although some alternatives can go further on a full charge
Find out more about the BMW i5
The BMW i5 is a bit like an alcohol-free pilsner. You still enjoy the refreshing taste of German lager, but it’s better for you – or in this case the planet. You see, the new i5 is the all-electric version of the latest BMW 5 Series. So you can choose a traditional pilsner if you can live with an internal-combustion hangover, or pick the EV if you want to wake up feeling refreshed and virtuous in the morning.
If you plan to stick with a conventionally powered BMW for a while longer, have a read of our review of the 5 Series. Here we’re focusing on the all-electric i5.
The two models look broadly similar from the outside. With a smaller grille than some recent BMWs, the styling isn’t as divisive as other current Beemers. It’s a bit more understated, certainly if you stick with the entry-level i40. We kind of like it and have a feeling that the looks will continue to grow on us as we become more used to the design. A slow-burner, maybe.
There are two power outputs to choose from. The less powerful is the i5 eDrive40, which has one 340hp motor powering the rear wheels. Step up to the M60 for two electric motors, one for the front wheels and one for the rears. Being four-wheel drive has to be a good thing when the car has 601hp.
The regular eDrive40 is quick, with a 0-62mph time of six seconds. The M60 reaches 62mph in a kidney-bruising 3.8 seconds.
Both models have the same battery pack, with an 81.2 kWh usable capacity. In the less powerful, lighter model, that gives an official range of up to 357 miles, dropping to a maximum of 315 miles for the heavier range-topper. That compares with 376 miles for a Mercedes EQE 350, one of the alternatives that could be on your shortlist if you are looking for an upmarket electric saloon.
Will you be able to travel that far in the real world? Well, the way you drive will make a big difference. When Mat drove the M60 in Portugal the range was closer to 200 miles, but car reviewers aren’t renowned for driving gently. Assume that’s a worst-case scenario, and the official numbers are a best case.
The i5 has a lovely interior and incredible performance, it's just a shame it doesn't go a bit further on a charge
Plenty of electric cars are fast in a straight line, but BMWs are supposed to be fun around corners as well.
The i5 corners with poise, especially cars with adaptive sports suspension and active anti-roll bars. The trouble is, the i5 is heavier than the regular 5 Series saloon, weighing as much as a big 4x4. The M60 is especially heavy, which is a shame as the car doesn’t feel as light on its feet as we’d hope. Get carried away and the front tyres push wide surprisingly early.
Drive more steadily and the i5 is remarkably comfortable and super-quiet, with only a murmur of wind and road noise.
Inside, the cabin is a high-tech banquet for the eyes, with a huge twin-screen display and an exceptional standard of finish. Even lower down the dash and doors there’s no sign of penny-pinching. Only the brittle action of the indicator stalks feels less than premium.
There’s plenty of space front and rear, too, although the big transmission tunnel that exists for the internal-combustion-engined 5 Series gets in the way if there are three passengers in the back.
The car is packed with clever tech, although frustratingly perhaps the smartest technology of all isn’t available in the UK. The optional upgrade for the adaptive cruise control available in some markets will change lanes for you. All the driver needs to do is look in their mirrors to check that it’s safe, and the car’s sensors can tell that you’ve looked to the side and will swap lanes. Where legal, the driver can even take their hands off the wheel. The eye activation feature is launching initially in Germany, the USA and Canada. A UK launch date for the automated lane-changing function has not been confirmed.
So, clever, quick, and very good to drive – if not quite great compared with BMW’s greatest hits of the past. Next to other electric saloons, though, the i5 is pretty much as good as it gets.
Click the link to see how much a BMW i5 will cost you through carwow, or have a look at the latest savings on BMW’s entire model range. We’ve also got plenty of used BMWs for sale via our trusted dealers, and when you’ve found your new car, you can sell your current car through carwow too.
The BMW i5 has a RRP range of £74,105 to £109,945. However, with carwow you can save on average £7,405. Prices start at £67,517 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £672.
Our most popular versions of the BMW i5 are:
|Model version||carwow price from|
|250kW eDrive40 M Sport 84kWh 4dr Auto||£67,517||Compare offers|
The i5 is a lot more expensive to buy than a petrol-powered 5 Series. On the other hand, the EV will be much cheaper to run, and for company car drivers the tax incentives for running an electric car make picking the i5 over the regular 5 an easy choice.
Obvious alternatives to the i5 are few, the most likely being the Mercedes-Benz EQE. The entry-level EQE 300 Mercedes costs less than the most affordable i5, but it’s a lot less powerful. Then EQE 350 is closer to the i5 in terms of power and pace, and costs a bit more. You might also be considering the Porsche Taycan, which is pricier than the i5.
Super-fast and comfortable, but feels a bit heavy when the road goes twisty
Even a hardened EV-sceptic could be converted by the i5 around town. It really is a great way to get from one side of the city to another.
Performance is a given with either the eDrive40 or the M60. Both cars will leap into any gap in traffic. But it’s not the way the i5 accelerates that makes it so well suited to urban driving, it’s how quiet and comfortable the car is.
Motor noise is almost non-existent, you just waft along in near silence. And of course, there’s no jolt when the gearbox changes ratio, as there’s just one forward gear. It’s such a smooth and relaxing experience it’s hard to be annoyed, even if someone cuts you up in heavy traffic.
In some electric cars the brakes can be grabby and a little unpredictable, but the i5’s brakes are easy to apply smoothly. Your passengers will think you’ve retrained as a chauffeur.
Although it’s a big car, decent all-round visibility makes for easy manoeuvres and parking.
On the motorway
Any i5 makes a great motorway car. It’s super-quiet, so much so that you’ll need to keep a close eye on your speed. Even on big alloy wheels, road noise is kept in check and there’s no more than a flutter of wind noise.
The ride is very well judged if your car comes with adaptive suspension, taut and controlled but far from harsh in the more comfortable setting.
The only downside to long drives in the i5 is that recharging isn’t as quick and easy as topping up a fuel tank, but the same is true of any electric car.
On a twisty road
The i5 is a satisfying machine to drive when the traffic clears and the road starts to twist and turn. It’s certainly more fun than a Mercedes EQE. The trouble is, the i5 doesn’t reward keen drivers the way the old 5 Series did. It’s a very heavy car, especially the M60 with the extra weight of a second motor and four-wheel drive.
Don’t get the idea that the i5 drives like a tank – far from it. This is one of the most enjoyable electric cars around. But compared with, say, the 550i from the previous generation, the i5 is less agile and more prone to gently push the front tyres wide.
In between the bends, the i40 is fast and the M60 ferocious.
It’s roomy and well made, but the i5 has less boot space than a petrol 5 Series
As soon as you step inside the cabin, the quality is obvious. It’s spacious too, with plenty of room up front for tall drivers.
Whichever spec you choose, the driver’s seat moves electrically. Adjustable lumbar support is included, which is good news if you suffer from back pain.
There’s a wide range of height adjustment, so you can sit low to the floor for a sporty driving position or lift the seat up for a better view. The steering wheel moves in and out and up and down over a broad range, so we can’t see many drivers failing to be comfortable.
The standard seats have plenty of side support to hold you in place while cornering without being too narrow or restrictive – just what you want in a sports saloon.
Sitting comfortably? Good. Then look around, and you’ll find there’s plenty of storage. The door bins are a healthy size, large enough to cope with a flask or a big bottle of water. There’s more storage under the driver’s armrest, which opens to either side so rear-seat passengers can reach inside as well as those in the front. There’s a 12-volt socket in there, should you need to power a device that doesn’t use USB charging.
There are two USB-C ports between the front seats which are more likely to be in demand than the old-fashioned 12-volt socket. There’s also a wireless charging pad to do away with the need for cables completely.
The glovebox is big enough to be useful for more than just gloves, and it’s lined with felt so whatever you put inside won’t rattle around.
Space in the back seats
Head and legroom are plentiful, no surprise there when BMW has made the i5 longer, wider and taller than the old 5 Series, with an extra 20mm between the front and rear wheels.
The back of the cabin isn’t without its quirks, though. It’s odd that there are no map pockets on the back of the front seats, and the raised floor to accommodate the batteries means your legs are pushed up, giving less under-thigh support. It’s not uncomfortable, but it could be better.
Plus there’s a big hump in the floor to house the transmission of internal-combustion-engined models. It really gets in the way when travelling with three in the back. The Mercedes EQE has a flat floor and is more accommodating of a trio of rear-seat passengers.
If you want lots of luggage room you may prefer the upcoming i5 Touring (BMW-speak for estate). But the i5 saloon’s boot will be big enough for many with a capacity of 490 litres. That’s a few litres down compared with the petrol 5 Series but offers more room for bags than a Mercedes EQE.
There’s not much of a load lip to lift items over and the opening is quite large by saloon standards. The rear bench can be folded down in three parts if you need more space, although you’ll need to reach a long way inside to give the seat backs a shove. How about powered folding, BMW?
High quality and loads of tech, although it can take some getting used to the raft of menus and controls on the touchscreen system
BMW’s exterior styling tends to divide opinion. The interiors are less controversial, but no less striking.
The i5’s cabin is superb, both in the standard of finish and the technology on show. The twin screens grab you first. We say two screens, although to look at you’d think they were one as if you’d accidentally loaded a wide screen TV in the front instead of the boot.
Directly ahead of the driver is the Information Display, measuring a whopping 12.3 inches across. Next door is the Control Display, which is even bigger at 14.9 inches.
The smaller screen handles the essentials, such as speed and charge level. It can be tailored to show different information. The graphics are sharp, modern and colourful.
If anything, the larger touchscreen is even more impressive, with a high-resolution display and a near-immediate response to the touch. It’s so big, though, that you may need telescopic arms to reach icons on the far side.
It’s better to use the smart-looking iDrive rotary controller, which is less distracting on the move. Or try voice commands to save taking your hands from the wheel at all.
BMW says the Operating System 8.5 is easier to use than the earlier 8.0. Perhaps so, but there’s still an awful lot going on so there’s a learning curve to getting the most from it.
Some new functions are welcome additions, such as the facility to watch YouTube videos while stationary or play video games using your smartphone as a display. Don’t dismiss those features as gimmicks – they’ll come in handy if you need to recharge on a long journey. Although whether playing ‘Go Kart Go’ makes a proper rest from driving is a moot point.
Proper buttons are few in number, but BMW has used physical controls on the steering wheel rather than the touch-sensitive pads favoured by Mercedes. That’s a sensible decision, as it’s too easy to brush the palm of your hand against the Merc’s touchpad while turning the wheel.
Being an electric car, the i5 has no exhaust emissions. That doesn’t mean there’s no pollution associated with the car’s production or use, but the greener the electricity used to charge the batteries, the greener the car.
The lighter, single-motored eDrive40 is the more efficient model, with official consumption of 3.3-3.9 miles per kWh depending on spec, and wheel choice in particular. That drops to 3.0-3.4 miles per kWh for the M60 xDrive. Being more efficient means a longer range of up to 357 miles for the eDrive40, compared with up to 315 miles for the more powerful version.
The cost of recharging will vary hugely, but a dedicated EV tariff with overnight charging at home will keep running costs to a minimum. For charging mid-journey, the i5 is compatible with DC charging at up to 205kW for a range increase of up to 97 miles in 10 minutes.
For company car drivers, there are big tax incentives to encourage the take up of electric cars. Between now and the end of the 2024/25 tax year, the Benefit-in-Kind tax rate is just 2%. That means teeny-tiny tax bills, even when running a premium-priced executive car like the i5.
There are tax benefits to running an electric car for private buyers, too. Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) costs nothing in the first year on the road, or in subsequent years until April 2025. From then on electric car drivers will have to pay some VED, although at a much lower level than petrol or diesel cars.
The latest 5 Series and its electric i5 brother have not yet been tested by the safety experts at Euro NCAP. However, the previous generation 5 Series scored five stars. In the past couple of years BMW has earned five stars three times and four stars twice, so anything less for the i5 would be a surprise.
Although kitted out with lots of safety features as standard, if you want to geek-out on the very best in driver aids you’ll need the Tech Pack Plus. This includes Distance Control with Stop & Go function and Steering and Lane Control Assistant. What you don’t get in the UK – for now at least – is Active Lane Change Assistant. This will prompt the driver to change lanes, which the driver approves by simply looking in the side mirror. Pity us poor drivers in the UK who need to steer from one lane to the other for ourselves. There’s no confirmation as to when the Active Lane Change Assistant function will be added to UK cars.
German cars are often thought of as reliable, but the reality isn’t quite so straightforward. BMW tends to finish in the midfield in reliability and ownership satisfaction surveys rather than at the top alongside the likes of Lexus. Some models fare better than others, though, and the previous 5 Series has a solid reputation for durability.
That bodes well for the new i5. What’s more, electric cars tend to be more reliable than petrols and diesels with fewer moving parts to go wrong.
If problems occur there’s a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty to fall back on, and an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty for the battery.
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