BMW i5 long-term test: report 3

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 charging at motorway services

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 2918 List price £77,105 Target Price £72,533 Price as tested £92,570 Test range 268 miles Official range 338 miles

21 February 2024 – Waiting game

If you’re a company car driver with the ability to charge at home overnight, choosing something electric is a bit of a no-brainer, because you’ll save a fortune in benefit-in-kind tax, and wake up every morning with your car’s battery replenished. But what if you can’t charge at home?

Well, that’s the situation I find myself in with my BMW i5, because I live in a first floor flat. So, while I still enjoy the tax advantages, roughly once a week I have to visit a public charger.

BMW i5 LT charging at motorway services

Now, electric car evangelists often claim that this doesn’t require you to adjust your lifestyle, because by the time you’ve been for a comfort break, the car is ready to go. However, let’s be honest, that’s nonsense at the speeds most UK ‘rapid’ chargers are capable of delivering electricity.

In reality, topping up my i5’s 81.2kWh (usable capacity) battery usually means sitting parked up for a little over an hour. And you know what: I’m actually fine with that.

You see, most evenings, after I get home from the office, I’ll pull out my laptop at some point to do a bit of work – whether it’s bashing out a few words, catching up on emails or signing off expenses. So, on those nights when I’ve stopped for a charge, I just do that work in the car instead to help pass the time.

This really is no hardship, either, because the i5’s interior is a great place to be.

BMW i5 LT with person working in passenger seat at night

For starters, its front seats are very comfortable, and can be moved a long way back on their runners (electrically, of course) so that my laptop screen isn’t jammed up against the dashboard.

What’s more, with the car plugged in, I can still run the climate control and heated seats to keep myself nice and warm, and play music on the Bowers & Wilkins surround sound stereo (a £1250 option), which sounds much better than any speakers I have at home.

And if by some miracle there's no work that needs doing? Well, there's always Netflix or the latest What Car? YouTube videos to watch.

Indeed, there’s just one thing that spoils things, and it’s to do with the charging infrastructure rather than the i5 itself.

BMW i5 LT Bowers & Wilkins speaker

Unfortunately, at every motorway services I’ve tried, the electric car chargers are too far away from the building for you to be in range of the wi-fi. So, instead, I have to access the internet via my phone, which means I burn through my data and have to put up with a rather slow connection.

First world problems, I know, and I could obviously go into the services themselves. But then I wouldn’t be anywhere near as comfortable as I am sitting in my i5.

And besides, being able to access the wi-fi from within your electric car really doesn’t feel like a lot to ask for – especially when you’re paying 79p for every kWh of electricity.

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