BMW i5 long-term test: report 6

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...

Steve Huntingford test driving BMW i5

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 3882 List price £77,105 Target Price £71,771 Price as tested £92,570 Test range 276 miles Official range 338 miles

23 April 2024 – Second (and third) opinion

As Ricky Gervais once said, if you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one. And that doesn’t just apply to comedy.

Products that are clearly intended to be as inoffensive as possible, are invariably bland and forgettable. Sure, they might function perfectly adequately, but people aren’t going to be queuing up in front of a store to buy them or raving about them to friends and family.

On reflection, I reckon this was in the minds of the team behind the interior of my BMW i5, because its design is very much of the Marmite variety.

BMW i5 LT being debated

While I was on holiday for a couple of weeks recently, I left the i5 at the office so other What Car? staffers could have a go in it, and when I returned, managing editor Allan Muir told me how much he disliked the dashboard.

In particular, he hated the thick, crystal-like ambient lighting strip that runs across it and through to the doors, describing it as “very tacky”. And while I initially thought it might be the shade of pink selected by my seven-year-old daughter that he’d found off-putting (you can change the colour to pretty much anything you want), Allan said that it was actually the overwhelming scale of the lighting that was most offensive to him.

By contrast, deputy digital editor Darren Moss was a huge fan of this feature, saying “it makes the i5’s interior feel really special day and night, specifically because the ambient lighting isn’t confined to small strips which aren’t bright enough to be effective until night-time”.

BMW i5 LT door speaker

Darren also liked the fact that these strips aren’t just there for style, but are also functional; for example, they pulse red if the hazard warning lights are activated.

Beyond stuff that’s merely a matter of personal taste, Allan had a problem with the position of the iDrive rotary controller in the i5 (which is used to scroll through the car’s various onscreen menus), saying that it’s too far forward to fall readily to hand for him.

Interestingly, it’s in exactly the right position for me, but then I’m somewhat shorter than Allan, so have the driving seat closer to the steering wheel. But I do agree with him that the dial’s considerable diameter makes it slightly more awkward to turn and press than the ones in some other BMWs and Allan’s Mazda MX-30 R-EV.

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