Update: ‘Production’ section updated.
After years of speculations, a Tesla Model S rivaling BMW is finally here – the BMW i5. Munich’s high-tech executive sedan will be joined by a station wagon in 2024 – the BMW i5 Touring. America’s focus is on the sedan, as that’s the electric 5er that’s headed to the U.S. Yes, the BMW i5 is formally a part of the BMW 5 Series, not a standalone product. Here’s everything we know about the larger alternative to the BMW i4:
Unlike other sedans today that are trying to be coupes or fastbacks, the BMW i5 is a proper three-box sedan. A flattish roof, large windows, a straight beltline, a conventional trunk, and several other details strongly communicate its conventional identity. Flush-fit door handles, “5” embossed at the base of the C-pillar to highlight the Hofmeister kink (the counter-swing at the base of the C-pillar), a high shoulder line, and a slightly sloping luggage compartment line provide a contrast to the traditional look.
At the front, the BMW i5 features a bigger BMW kidney grille with a wide surround and BMW Iconic Glow contour lighting. While we wish it was smaller and sleeker like that of the seventh-gen 5 Series, we’re relieved it’s not hideously huge like that of the i4 or i7. It sits far forward, which projects confidence.
There’s a new iteration of the signature twin headlights creating the hallmark four-eye face, one that has a reduced form and sweeps back like on the iX1, expressing more aggression. The bumper is quite sporty in the M Sport style, but in the base style, it strikes off as odd.
At the rear, the BMW i5 flaunts flat combination lamps consisting of four narrow and horizontally aligned LED strips, divided by an L-shaped chrome strip. Horizontal lines highlight the width and solid stature and prominent surfaces, including muscular corners at the corners in the lower fascia, generate a powerful aura.
Due to the conventional silhouette, the i5 isn’t ultra-sleek. Thus, it’s not as aerodynamically efficient as the Lucid Air, Tesla Model S, or Nio ET7, all of which have the same Cd value – 0.21. These models were designed as EVs from the ground up and developed on an EV-specific platform, while the i5 sedan is a conversion of an ICE model (the eighth-gen 5 Series).
The i5’s drag coefficient, depending on the variant you select, is as low as 0.23 Cd. This means it’s not as aerodynamically compared to not only its rivals but also the seventh-gen 5 Series, which was a benchmark in its class when it arrived in 2016 (0.22 Cd). The gas-powered eight-gen 5 Series disappoints even more in this aspect, with an even higher drag coefficient of 0.24 Cd.
Internationally, the BMW i5 will be available in one solid paint and twelve metallic paints, including three BMW Individual finishes:
- Alpine White (solid)
- Sapphire Black (metallic)
- Sophisto Grey Brilliant Effect (metallic)
- Mineral White (metallic)
- Phytonic Blue (metallic)
- Oxide Grey (metallic)
- Cape York Green (metallic)
- Fire Red (metallic)
- M Carbon Black (metallic)
- M Brooklyn Grey (metallic)
- BMW Individual Tanzanite Blue (metallic)
- BMW Individual Frozen Pure Grey (metallic)
- BMW Individual Frozen Deep Grey (metallic)
The interior of the BMW i5 offers the right balance between minimalism and practicality. It’s a sumptuous cabin that’s not loud but about the car being a plush luxury model, but not silent either. The low-profile dashboard houses a bank of displays that underline the car’s high-tech nature and the fact that its functions are easy to operate. It has seam vents instead of conventional air vents, which makes it look even cleaner.
A large trim strip on the dashboard, available in Dark Graphite matt effect paintwork, Aluminum Rhomicle Dark Silver finish, Carbon Fibre variant with high-gloss silver threads, or several fine wood finishes, shows the car’s fine workmanship. Crystal glass applications for various controls on the center console similarly add a luxurious touch.
On the technology front, it’s no surprise that the i5 features the BMW Curved Display comprising a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch touch-operated central display. The two displays seamlessly merge to look like a single unit. These electronic systems run on the new BMW Operating System 8.5, which is more intuitive than BMW OS 8.
The new software has a new operating principle of zero-layer. All relevant functions and information are present on a single level. A new home screen with a neatly organized home screen and “QuickSelect” functionality. The latter allows the user to directly choose entertainment programs, contact lists, and vehicle settings, use the voice assistant, or activate other menu options, all by touch. On completing the desired operation, the user can tap on the Home icon at the bottom of the touchscreen to go back to the home screen.
The biggest talking point on the technology front in the i5 is actually in-car gaming with the gaming platform ‘AirConsole.’ When the car is stationary, say to kill time while it charges, for example, the driver and passengers can play casual games on the 14.9-inch central display using their smartphones as controllers. The rear passengers can also play with them, the AirConsole app allows multiple players simultaneously. About 15 games, including Go Kart Go, Overcooked, Music Guess, and Golazo are available currently, and the list will be continually expanded.
Another highlight on the technology front is the BMW Interaction Bar, a slim crystalline surface structure that extends across the full width of the dashboard and well into the door panel trim. It has dramatic backlighting and houses touch-sensitive control panels for adjusting the ventilation and climate control and various other controls you’d typically see on buttons, switches, or some other form of physical control in a traditional car. It is the car’s means to say welcome or goodbye to the driver when they enter or exit. It also alerts the driver for phone calls with animation and indicates to them and the front passenger when it’s safe to exit the car.
The i5 is available with plenty of comfort features, some of which are new for the 5 Series. Preheating is a standard feature in the electric car. A four-zone automatic climate control system with a separate rear control panel, B-pillar air vents, and nanoparticle filters is available in all variants. This optional system allows separately regulating the temperature in the footwell of the front seats as well. A second solar sensor helps the system accurately regulate the temperature in the rear.
Also optionally available, for the first time in any 5 Series, is a panoramic glass roof. Called ‘Sky Lounge,’ it is designed as a fixed structural module and connects almost the entire roof surface. Measuring 33 inches long and 32 inches wide, it offers an almost 90% larger viewing area than the slid-and-tilt moon roof of the seventh-gen 5 Series.
One more optional feature that makes the i5 a very comfortable car is Highway Assistant including Active Lane Change with eye activation. At speeds up to 85 mph, where conditions and speed limits allow, the driver can enable hands-free driving. When the car suggests a lane change, the driver can confirm it by simply looking in the exterior mirror. The driver doesn’t need to raise their hand and confirm the lane change with the turn indicator, although it is still possible to do that.
The i5 is the first BMW to feature a fully vegan interior as standard. From the surfaces of the dashboard, seats, and door panels, as well as the steering wheel, everything piece of upholstery in the cabin is cruelty-free. Of course, BMW’s main purpose behind offering a leather-free interior is sustainability. BMW says using vegan surface material instead of leather helps reduce the carbon footprint by 85%.
While on the sustainability subject, it’s also worth mentioning the upper material of the floor covering is made of 100% recycled material, like old fishing nets to name one. The loudspeakers in the door trim are covered with a decorative spacer fabric, which does away with the need for fabrics and adhesives.
The BMW i5 measures 199.2 in. in length, 74.8 in. in width, and 59.6/59.3 in. in height and has a 117.9 in. wheelbase. It offers 17.3 cu. ft. of luggage space in the trunk; there’s no frunk in this car. Customers can choose from two variants: eDrive40 (RWD) and M60 xDrive (AWD). BMW has confirmed an additional variant with AWD is coming in 2024, and we think that’ll be xDrive40.
Performance & range
Both i5 eDrive40 and i5 M60 xDrive have an 81.2 kWh battery pack and a heat pump as standard. The base variant uses a rear-mounted motor that produces 335 hp and 295 lb.-ft. of torque, and the top-end variant sports two motors, one at each axle, which develop 590 hp and 586 lb.-ft. of torque.
The i5 eDrive40 takes 5.7 seconds for a 0-60 mph sprint and maxes out at 120 mph. The i5 M60 xDrive can perform the same acceleration in 3.7 seconds, and it has a higher top speed of 130 mph. Moreover, when equipped with performance tires, it can attain an even higher top speed of 143 mph.
Charging & range
Charging the 81.2 kWh battery pack with a Level 2 charger is possible at up to 11 kW, and at that rate, it takes 8.25 hours for a 0-100% SoC charging session. The peak DC charging input is 205 kW. Charging from 10 to 80% SoC using a DC fast charger takes about 30 minutes. The i5 is the first BMW EV to support Plug & Charge.
On a full charge, BMW estimates the i5 eDrive40 will travel up to 295 miles and the i5 M60 xDrive will deliver a range of 256 miles. When running low on charging, the driver can turn on a new ‘Max Range’ mode. Max Range turns off the climate control system, seating heating, seat ventilation, and steering wheel heating and restricts the power and top speed to save energy.
Rear-axle air suspension is part of the BMW i5’s standard equipment. Integral Active Steering, which includes rear-axle steering to make low-speed turns in the city easier for the driver and provide the car with more agility during high-speed turns on the highway, is available. An Active Roll Stabilization system, which includes an Active Roll Comfort function, is available. It operates using a 48-volt electric motor.
One of the chassis highlights of the BMW i5 is Adaptive Suspension Professional, optionally available in the eDrive40 variant and included as standard in the M60 variant. Claimed to offer 7 Series-like ride comfort and 3 Series-like agility, thanks to ninth-gen BMW Vertical Dynamics management, Adaptive Suspension Professional includes electronically controlled dampers.
The ninth-gen BMW Vertical Dynamics management makes its brand-wide debut in the eighth-gen 5 Series Sedan family. It takes into consideration every input variable, including acceleration, wheel speeds, steering angle, and yaw rate, to establish the optimum damping forces. It relies on the physical calculation of data on the prevailing driving condition, which gives the car proper body control and the right suspension response in all driving situations.
|Aspect||BMW i5 eDrive40 Specification||BMW i5 M60 xDrive Specification|
|Length||199.2 in.||199.2 in.|
|Width||74.8 in.||74.8 in.|
|Height||59.6 in.||59.3 in.|
|Wheelbase||117.9 in.||117.9 in.|
|Ground Clearance||5.7 in.||5.4 in.|
|Turning Circle||40.4 ft.||39 ft.|
|Curb Weight||4,916 lbs.||5,247 lbs.|
|Gross Weight||6,063 lbs.||6,404 lbs.|
|Luggage Space||17.3 cu. ft.||17.3 cu. ft.|
|Power||335 hp at 8,000 rpm||590 hp at 8,000 rpm|
|Torque||295 lb.-ft. at 0-5,000 rpm||586 lb.-ft. at 0-5,000 rpm|
|Battery Pack Capacity (Net/Gross)||81.2 kWh/84.3 kWh||81.2 kWh/84.3 kWh|
|Max. Charging Power||11 kW (AC)/205 kW (DC)||11 kW (AC)/205 kW (DC)|
|AC Charging Time (0-100% SoC)||8.25 hours||8.25 hours|
|DC Charging Time (10-80% SoC)||~30 minutes||~30 minutes|
|Targeted EPA-est. Range||295 miles||256 miles|
No BMW i5M planned
BMW M apparently has no plans for a full-blown performance version of the i5, at least not in the new generation, as per BMWBlog. The company will continue with the current engineering philosophy followed in launches like the iX1 and i7, of using the CLAR platform, which is a conversion-type architecture shared with the combustion variants. M-engineered fully electric cars won’t arrive until the Neue Klasse family of cars goes on sale later this decade, adds the report.
Citing BMW’s ex-Development boss Klaus Fröhlich, an article in Autocar dated August 23, 2021, stated that we cannot expect fully electric M cars until 2025. While PHEVs like the BMW XM will be available, he said (current) pure-electric powertrains will not match the dynamic nature of current M cars.
Early impressions behind the wheel of the BMW i5 suggest it’s be quite fun despite the bulk of the lithium-ion batteries that’ll make it significantly heavier than the gas-powered 5 Series. Prototype driving reviews indicate it’s as agile as a gas-powered 3 Series, even though it’s quite bigger and way heavier.
The superb responsiveness of the steering, high stability at tight corners, quick acceleration, and a great ride of this electric luxury car should make the i5 equally likable for driving enthusiasts and comfort-seeking customers. Advanced features like a 48-volt active roll stabilization system, air suspension (rear), rear-axle steering, etc. will play a big part in making the i5 such an all-rounder.
BMW Group started manufacturing the i5 along with the iX and i7 at its domestic factory in Dingolfing, on July 21, 2023. The i5 Touring will join these cars in 2024.
The Dingolfing E-Powertrain Competence Center will be in charge of the 5 Series electric battery modules, battery cell coating, high-voltage battery assembly, and e-machine development (electric motor). Since 2020, this facility has been producing the electric motor for the BMW iX3, and in May 2021, it began producing the batteries and battery modules for the BMW iX and BMW i4. This facility will also supply electric motors for the iX and i4.
Expecting no less than a 50% share of electrified vehicles in its annual sales globally from 2030, BMW Group is preparing to gear up for the production of both electric cars and electric vehicle components. It had said it would manufacture electric drivetrains for 500,000 electrified vehicles annually in Dingolfing from 2022.
BMW said it was investing more than EUR 500 million (USD 536 million) to expand electric drivetrain production capacity in this location by 2022. It is preparing other production sites – like Regensburg and Leipzig – to produce electric drivetrains. The German automaker planned to invest around EUR 790 million (USD 836 million) in scaling up the production capacity for electric powertrain components at these three sites and Steyr by 2022.
BMW i5 release date
The BMW i5 will start arriving at U.S. dealerships on October 28, 2023. Prices start at USD 66,800 in the eDrive40 variant and USD 84,100 in the M60 xDrive variant. A standard USD 995 destination and handling charge is additional. The U.S. will be among the first markets worldwide to get the new electric sedan.
The BMW i5 Touring will debut in Spring 2024 and be available with the same powertrains as the sedan. BMW Group says it has developed the electric station wagon “specifically” for European markets, Japan, and Taiwan. Thus, we don’t expect the company to launch it in the U.S.
Shaun Bugbee, Executive Vice President of Operations, BMW of North America, has told Automotive News that the company plans to sell 50,000 electric cars in the U.S. in 2023. While the i4 is leading the charge, the i5 is expected to help accelerate BMW’s battery-electric vehicle sales in the last quarter of the year.
BMW i5 FAQs
What is the release date of the 2024 BMW i5?
The BMW i5 will start arriving at U.S. dealerships on October 28, 2023.
What are the rivals to the 2024 BMW i5?
The BMW i5 will head straight for the Mercedes EQE and the 2024 Audi A6 e-tron (Audi E6).
What is the 2024 BMW i5 price?
The BMW i5’s prices start at USD 66,800 (excl. USD 995 destination and handling).
Featured Image: BMW Group