The long-awaited BMW i5 saloon has been unveiled and will arrive later this year in the UK with 593bhp and up to 321 miles of range to take on the Mercedes-Benz EQE, Tesla Model S and upcoming Audi A6 E-tron saloon.
Joining the BMW iX1, BMW i4 and BMW i7 in the Munich firm’s swiftly expanding range of EVs, the electric i5 will launch in October alongside a sole combustion-powered model and be later joined by a pair of hybrids.
It is set to also spawn the highly anticipated BMW i5 Touring – one of the first executive all-electric estates on the market.
BMW will hope the electric powertrain, arriving in two power levels, will bring new customers to the brand, as well as bolster the sales of its best-selling model.
At launch, the electric i5 will be available in two specifications - rear-wheel-drive eDrive40 and four-wheel-drive M60 xDrive. The rear-wheel-drive eDrive40 receives a rear-mounted electric motor developing 335bhp and 317lb ft of torque, giving it a claimed 0-62mph time of 6.0sec and a 120mph top speed.
The four-wheel-drive M60 xDrive uses the same rear-mounted electric motor in combination with a smaller front-mounted motor that delivers an added 256bhp and 269lb ft. All up, it develops a combined system output of 593bhp and 605lb ft for a claimed 0-62mph time of 3.8sec and an electronically limited top speed of 143mph.
Both i5 models feature an 81.2kWh lithium ion battery as standard. The eDrive40 offers a claimed range of between 296 and 362 miles, while the more powerful M60 xDrive delivers a claimed 283 to 321 miles of range.
Each i5 has 11kW AC charging functionality as standard, although this can be increased to 22kW with an optional on-board charger. The maximum DC charging capability is put at 205kW, with BMW claiming a 10-80% charge within 30 minutes. Together with the eDrive40 and M60 xDrive, BMW has confirmed that a third i5 model is scheduled to arrive in 2024.
Kerb weights for the initial 5 Series line-up range from 1680kg for the combustion-engined 520i to 2305kg for the i5 M60 xDrive. The basis for the new 5 Series is BMW’s Cluster Architecture (CLAR) platform. It is the same structure that underpins all BMW models featuring either a longitudinally mounted combustion engine or electric drivetrain.
Stylistically, the new model adopts the change in design direction at BMW first seen on the iX, with a much more modern look than the model it replaces. The front is still dominated by BMW’s classic kidney grille, which on the pure-electric i5 sports a blanked-off design in high-gloss black plastic.
As on all recent BMW models, traditional door handles have made way for flush-fitting units. They combine with other wind-cheating elements, including a flat underbody, to allow the i5 eDrive40 to achieve a drag co-efficient of 0.23.
Mirroring the latest 7 Series, with which it shares many critical components, the 5 Series has grown in size.
Its length has increased by 97mm to 5060mm, width has risen by 32mm to 1900mm and height is up by 36mm to 1515mm. The wheelbase has also gained 20mm, at 2995mm.
Inside, the new 5 Series and i5 follow the lead of the larger 7 Series and i7 with a new triple-layer dashboard supporting a single curved display panel.
It houses separate 12.3in instrument and 14.9in infotainment touch displays – the latter running the latest BMW 8.5 operating system based on Linux software and offering gaming and video functions for the first time.