BMW i5 long-term test: report 2

Does the electric version of BMW’s latest 5 Series executive saloon impress as much as the larger and pricier i7? We're living with an i5 to find out...

BMW i5 LT with person on ladder looking through binoculars

The Car BMW i5 eDrive40 M Sport Pro Run by Steve Huntingford, editor

Why it’s here To see if BMW’s latest electric car feels special enough to justify its hefty pricing when you live with it day-to-day

Needs to Combine outstanding comfort and refinement with strong performance, an enjoyable drive and a good real-world range

Mileage 2234 List price £77,105 Target Price £72,533 Price as tested £92,570 Test range 272 miles Official range 338 miles

3 February 2024 – Living the high life

While people buy SUVs for a variety of reasons, the main one given in our most recent survey of car buyer priorities was that they value an elevated driving position. However, it turns out that I also get this with my BMW i5, even though it’s about as SUV-shaped as I am.

I didn’t notice initially – probably because I previously ran a Range Rover Sport, and the i5 doesn’t sit you as high as that does; few cars do. But then I briefly swapped into a BMW 3 Series for a recent magazine cover shoot, and having just got out of my i5, the 3 Series felt like a ground-hugging sports car by comparison.

BMW i5 interior front seats

Since then, I’ve realised that the i5 puts you at the same sort of altitude as many family SUVs. The only difference is that instead of the whole car being raised up, it’s merely the passenger compartment, with this done to make room for the large drive battery mounted beneath you.

Despite being a side effect rather than something done for its own sake, though, the resulting seating brings SUV-style advantages. I don’t have to bend down as far to strap my daughter into her child seat, for example, and forward visibility is excellent.

True, the saloon body means you can’t see where the rear of the car ends when you look over your shoulder, whereas I could in the Range Rover Sport. But manoeuvring is still a doddle, thanks to my i5’s 360-degree parking camera (part of the £3300 Technology Plus Pack).

BMW i5 LT with Mercedes EQE

It’s also worth noting that the seats are more comfortable than those in the Mercedes EQE – a rival electric saloon with a similarly high floor. You see, the seats in that don't place you much higher than a regular saloon, so they're unusually close to said floor and you end up sitting with your legs near-horizontal in the front, or with your knees around your ears in the back.

Perhaps the thing I like most about the i5's elevated seating, though, is that it doesn't compromise the driving experience; this is a car that still corners very much like a saloon instead of leaning and lurching like many SUVs do when driven briskly through bends.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Buy a new car with What Car?

Like the sound of the BMW i5?

If so, check out the latest BMW i5 deals available through our free New Car Deals service.

Our network of What Car? approved dealers use our Target Price discounts (the most our mystery shoppers think you should pay) as the basis for their savings.