(Our Auto Expert) – When it comes to the BMW 5 Series, we remember the Active Hybrid 5 from a decade ago, a mid-size sedan that marked BMW’s first foray into electrification. Fast forward to 2023, and we’re back on the scenic N247 coast road in Portugal, but this time, it’s an all-electric affair with the 2024 BMW i5.
The i5 may not flaunt its electric identity like some of its competitors, such as the Tesla Model S or Mercedes-Benz EQE. Still, it shares the same platform as its internal combustion engine siblings, blending electrification seamlessly into the 5 Series family. And thankfully, it doesn’t sport the odd looks of some other electric vehicles.
In the United States, we’ll have two flavors of the i5: the eDrive40, with a single motor powering the rear wheels, and the M60 xDrive, featuring dual motors for all-wheel drive. Both pack an 81.2 kWh lithium-ion battery capable of speedy DC fast-charging at up to 205 kW. At home, a Level 2 charger provides 11 kW.
The eDrive40 boasts a respectable 335 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It zips from 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and offers a range of up to 295 miles. On the other hand, the M60 xDrive cranks things up with a whopping 593 hp and 586 lb-ft of torque, sprinting to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds, although the range dips to 256 miles.
No matter which i5 you choose, the driving experience lives up to the 5 Series reputation. It’s smooth and comfortable on the highway yet surprisingly agile on twisty roads. With rear-axle steering and 48-volt active anti-roll technology (reserved for the M60), the i5 maintains its composure, even when pushed to the limit.
Regenerative braking comes standard, offering different levels of regen, though we recommend sticking to “B” for maximum regen. The optional adaptive recuperation can be a bit unpredictable, so we suggest turning it off.
One standout feature is the hands-free driving capability on mapped highways. BMW’s Highway Assistant allows for extended hands-free driving, and it doesn’t abruptly disengage if you need to make minor corrections. Plus, the i5 introduces gesture-based lane changes. When the system suggests a lane change, simply glance at the corresponding side mirror to activate it – a nifty addition that will soon spread to other BMW models with Highway Assistant.
Inside, the i5 impresses with its attention to detail, from contrast stitching on the vegan upholstery to backlit ambient lighting. The curved display combines a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 14.9-inch multimedia touchscreen, with augmented reality overlays for seamless navigation. The upgraded iDrive 8.5 interface simplifies access to common functions.
But here’s something quirky: Air Console, a feature that lets you play video games on the center screen when parked. Up to seven people can join in, making it perfect for future seven-passenger BMWs.
The 2024 i5 eDrive40 starts at $67,795 (including destination), undercutting rivals like the Mercedes-Benz EQE and Tesla Model S. The higher-performing i5 M60 xDrive comes in at $85,095, still competitive with its AMG counterpart.
In the end, the i5 offers a compelling electric alternative within the 5 Series lineup, with a comfortable ride, innovative tech, and a price tag that makes electrification more accessible than ever. As BMW’s 5 Series continues to evolve, we hope the journey to full electrification won’t take another decade.