Update: ‘Begins Testing’ section added to the story.
Sources have told our friends at BMWBlog that the BMW i5 Touring is under consideration and that a market launch is expected in 2024. Internally called ‘BMW G61, it will be among the first electric luxury station wagons to hit the market. Subsequently, the first spy photos, captured in Europe, confirmed that BMW has started testing the electrified version of the Touring model. Here’s what you can expect.
The station wagon or estate is not dead
According to a report from analyst firm LMC Automotive in 2019, while the station wagon body style is losing popularity to the SUV, still, 1.5 million estate cars are expected to be sold in 2025 with Europe accounting for around 75 per cent of the market. Naturally, demand has started shifting towards electrified models as governments are setting deadlines for the phasing out of combustion engines.
Northern Europe, a particularly strong market for estates, is accelerating the shift to electric vehicles, which builds a strong case for BMW to approve the project. It is also interesting to note that the world’s first and perhaps only electric estate on sale is the MG5 which is available in Europe. A Peugeot e-308 SW will arrive in the region in mid-2023, whereas Skoda has also confirmed an electric Combi due later this decade.
In a flurry of spy shots that emerged from Europe on December 14, 2022, on the global web media, we get to see a well-camouflaged test mule of the upcoming BMW i5 Touring. The photos show the all-electric station wagon being driving in a possibly-remote location in snowy Germany. The large but covered kidney grille is clearly visible, and so are the red brake calipers and LED running lights in the tail lamps. A closer look also reveals “Electrified Vehicle” stickers on the front doors and rear bumper of the car.
BMW i5 Touring Exterior
Unlike the BMW iX or the BMW i4, spy shots have shown that BMW designers will maintain the subtle kidney grille design on the G60 5 Series, which should appear on the BMW i5, too. That does beg the question, though, if the BMW i5 Touring will get the iX’s ability to erase scratch marks on its grille thanks to the additional polyurethane coating applied by the manufacturer.
The rest of the design of the BMW i5 Touring should resemble the business estate of today with a focus on improved aerodynamics (which explains the need for flush door handles that pop open automatically and electrically).
Our rendering imagines the BMW i5 Touring with a shape and size similar to today’s gas-powered car. We’ve included a blanked-off horizontal kidney grille in a gloss black color, slimmer and sharper headlights in a classical twin-eyed layout, a functional lower grille, functional side air intakes, flush door handles, and new, rounded mirrors. An “i” badge in the kidney grille and BMW i-style blue accents on the kidney grille, side air intakes, rocker panels, and inside the headlamps convey the fact that this is a BMW i model. The bronze body paint provides clear indications of the electric powertrain of the car, while the silver finish on the mirror is a stylish contrasting touch, as observed in the iX1.
The interior of the BMW i5 should have a minimalist design and a luxurious lounge-style ambiance. Expect an iX-type low-profile dashboard with simplistic surfacing, delicately styled air vents, discreetly integrated speakers, a HUD projector, and a pair of sleek displays.
According to Bimmerpost forum member ynguldyn, who is a credible source for BMW scoops, the i5 will be available with 19-inch wheels (standard)/20- or 21-inch wheels (optional), more glass and metal trim than the next-gen 5 Series, an Iconic Glow package, Highway Assistant, and Harman Kardon audio system (standard)/Bowers & Wilkins audio system (optional). All of these should apply to the i5 Touring as well. All that ynguldyn says about the features of the electric station wagon specifically is that it will gain Level 3 autonomous driving capability in July 2024.
BMW Curved Display
The i5 and i5 Touring may feature a combination of the virtual instrument cluster (driver information display) and the BMW iDrive control/operation system’s central display (control display) clubbed into a frameless single-piece glass surface angled towards the driver. Called BMW Curved Display, this panel that brings together the two cockpit displays may appear to be free-standing, giving the cockpit area a neat, low-profile appearance. The instrument cluster could measure 12.3 inches diagonally, with the central display measuring 14.9 inches.
There should be plenty of space between the dashboard and the center console, which may house an electronic gear selector, iDrive 8 function scroller and selector, volume adjuster, start-stop button, and an electronic parking brake, designed artfully and made from premium materials, possibly including glass and wood. The center console may feature touch control buttons with haptic feedback. The principle of shy tech and reduction to the essentials would be visible throughout the cabin.
Based on the same cluster architecture (CLAR) platform as the i4, the BMW i5 Touring will come with the brand’s 5th Generation eDrive powertrain that houses a more densely packed and energy-efficient battery module and an integrated drive system that houses the e-motor, transmission, and power electronics in one common housing.
Bimmerpost forum’s ynguldyn suggests that the i5 Touring will be available in two variants at launch: xDrive40 and M60. In that case, two motors, one for the front wheels and one for the rear wheels, will be standard.
The i5 Touring xDrive40’s powertrain could produce around 320 horsepower and 465 lb.-ft. of torque. The i5 Touring M60’s powertrain may develop 590 horsepower (temporarily, in Sport Mode) and around 800 lb.-ft. of torque (temporarily, with Launch Control).
Range & Charging
Expect the i5 Touring xDrive40 and i5 Touring M60 to share an 80.7 kWh battery pack. The WLTP range could be around 360 miles (580 km) for the former and just under 311 miles (500 km) for the latter.
The i5 Touring is expected to support 200 kW DC fast charging, 10 minutes of which can add 90 miles range. It may also support 11 kW AC charging that can recharge the battery fully in 8 hours. These figures, however, are subject to vary in case BMW decides to install a larger battery pack.
Production & Launch
The G60 5 Series and its electric counterparts (which now would include the i5 Touring) will be made at BMW Group Plant Dingolfing, Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW confirmed. The BMW i5 sedan should be launched by end-2023, and a 2024 launch can be anticipated for the i5 Touring. It will compete with the Audi A6 e-tron Avant and the purported Mercedes EQE shooting brake.
Bimmerpost’s ynguldyn says that production of the next-gen 5 Series Touring family, which includes the first-ever i5 Touring, will start in March 2024 and conclude in February 2031. There’s no plan to sell the station wagon in the U.S., neither with an internal combustion engine nor with electric motors, as per ynguldyn.
While the market for station wagons is not growing globally, it is an important segment for premium car makers from the perspective of future-proofing their line-up. An i5 Touring’s innovative luggage space and the all-electric powertrain would attract both fleet and personal car buyers, and appeal to shoppers who don’t want another SUV. And BMW wouldn’t want their current 3 and 5 Series Touring customers to think about shopping at Audi or Mercedes when it’s time for a new car.
Featured Image: TopElectricSUV’s rendition of the BMW i5 Touring.