First Drive Review: BMW i5

Independent review by Chris Russon

5-minute read

BMW i5 Front

First Drive: BMW i5

Explore the key features of the BMW i5 in our expert first drive review

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The BMW i5 shows off the best of BMW in the form of a state-of-the-art all-electric saloon car, packed with high-quality features.


  • Great performance
  • Plenty of tech
  • Efficient powertrains
  • Long range
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BMW has a new 5 Series, and it is making its debut in the UK as the all-electric i5.

A zero-emission executive express, the i5 takes all the characteristics for which the 5 Series is famed and rockets them into the modern age.

Packed with innovations and technology, it is the eighth generation of BMW’s legendary saloon, which first broke cover in 1972 and now sets the German carmaker on course for an electric future.

The i5 is the trailblazer for the new 5 Series line up, and shortly it will be joined by 530e and 550e plug-in hybrids and a 520i mild hybrid petrol version, while by spring 2024 a touring estate will be entering the range.

The Bavarian brand is pulling no punches with the launch of the new 5 Series, and we have just put the new i5 through its paces.

Swish and stylish, the car is an evolution of the design that has become a classic 5 Series trait and compared to other large EV saloons the i5 is something of a masterpiece.

Range and Performance

It uses the fifth iteration of BMW’s electric powertrain, and the i5 is available in two guises – the eDrive40 and the incredibly potent M60 xDrive.

The eDrive40 is priced from £74,105 while the M60 tips the scales from £97,745. Heady prices yet both are possibly the finest battery-powered saloons we have driven.

The M60 with its all-wheel drive delivers a massive 593bhp, giving it a scintillating performance of 0 to 62mph in just 3.8 seconds with a maximum speed of 142mph.

Range is claimed to be up to 315.7 miles while the eDrive40 – which pumps out 330bhp - is said to be capable of managing up to 356 miles on a full charge with performance figures of a top speed of 119mph and an acceleration time of 6.0 seconds.

Even the grille has a role to play in the i5’s range and can add up to 16 extra miles when the air intakes are open, helping reduce turbulence around the front of the car.

Cleverness abounds in virtually every aspect of the technology, and the i5 can be recharged from 10 to 80 per cent capacity in 30 minutes from a fast charger. Almost 100 miles of range can be added in just 10 minutes from such a charger.

There is even a Max Range function in the driving modes, which increases the car’s range by up to 25 percent if a planned charging stop cannot be made successfully. It works by limiting the top speed to 60mph, deactivating the air conditioning and limiting other functions such as steering wheel and seat heating.

Special features range from a boost lever on the left side of the steering wheel which gives maximum power for a few seconds to a humble yet classy 5 symbol in the rear door just above the classic Hofmeister kink.

On the road, the i5 is as impressive as all of its other attributes with excellent poise, a wonderfully solid feel and beautifully weighted, just as any true performance car should be.
Chris Russon

Then there is the sound – albeit artificial – that BMW has created for its latest EV, which comes alive the more sporty the drive mode selected. It can be as rewarding as the noise created by a good old-fashioned V8-powered M5, if needs be.

Design and Practicality

The new 5 Series has grown in length by 97mm to 5.06 metres, in width by 32mm to 1,900mm and in height by 36mm to 1,515mm. The wheelbase has been increased by 20mm to 2,995mm for comfier seating, especially in the rear.

The i5 is also the first BMW in the UK to use Veganza synthetic upholstery instead of leather in the seats and trim, and for the first time in its history is available with a panoramic sunroof.

Interior and Technology

Then there is the high-tech interaction bar akin to that in the larger BMW 7 Series which runs across the bottom of the facia and houses touch controls for the ventilation and air conditioning as well as being fitted with its own light display.

Factor in the likes of BMW’s Curved Display set up for the instrument panel and centre screen and the car has just about everything you could need in a modern, zero emission super saloon – even an in-car gaming feature for use when the vehicle is stationary.

The M60 has a number of special features to make it stand out as the flagship of the range, including horizontal slats in the grille which are illuminated, 20-inch wheels, a pronounced diffuser at the rear and a sporty looking spoiler lip.


Offering good looks and plenty of performance no matter which variant you choose, the BMW i5 is a true BMW electric icon.

The M60 in particular is a true masterpiece, and in many a way it is a car that is as great as an M5 in terms of real driver enjoyment.

For a connoisseur who craves a car that is at the top of its class in the new age of motoring, the i5 has become the pacesetter – and the M60 takes that to a new dimension.

Prices correct at time of writing, 07/11/2023.