BMW i5 long-term test: report 5

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 BMW 5 Series

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 3742 List price £77,105 Target Price £71,771 Price as tested £92,570 Test range 272 miles Official range 338 miles

2 April 2024 – The same but different

For most of last year, I had no television signal, with the management company for my building saying it was being blocked by the large number of cranes working in the area. And while I didn’t believe this, assuming that there must instead be a problem with the aerial, I decided it wasn’t important enough to make a big deal about (and, apparently, so did all of my neighbours).

Now, not so long ago, the idea of being without TV for almost 12 months would have given me the shivers. But these days my wife and I are far more likely to stream something than watch the Beeb, while my daughter is happy as long as YouTube is accessible.

BMW i5 LT with BMW 520i in car park

It was proof of how quickly the norm can become the opposite, and I had a further reminder of this the other day when I tested the new BMW 520i (above right) – the petrol sister to my BMW i5.

You see, despite running combustion cars for the first 24 years of my driving life, I'm now used to pressing the start button of the i5, and it resulting in nothing more than a brief power-up sound effect and the instrument panel coming to life. So, sitting in a near-identical car, but hearing an engine fire up and feeling the vibrations that accompany this, was genuinely weird.

Similarly, a few years ago I wouldn’t have given much thought to the fact that you have to wait for the automatic gearbox to change down before the 520i will accelerate with any urgency, but here it really stood out, because the i5's electric motor offers instant responses.

Then again, there was also evidence that combustion cars have their own strengths when I glanced at the range readout and saw 563 miles – more than twice what my i5 has so far shown when fully charged.

BMW i5 LT boot badge

I said that the two models look almost identical, though, and that’s no exaggeration. Indeed, the only obvious differences on the outside (beyond the paint specced) are the boot badges and the i5’s lack of exhaust pipes, while inside the areas of separation are limited to instrumentation and the fact that the 520i has two shift paddles behind the steering wheel instead of a single Boost lever.

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.