BMW i5 long-term test: report 8

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 image of person on reversing camera

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 4326 List price £77,105 Target Price £71,200 Price as tested £92,570 Test range 298 miles Official range 338 miles

4 June 2024 – Idea vs execution

When asked why Apple struggled after he left the company in 1985, Steve Jobs said it suffered from “a disease of thinking that a great idea is 90% of the work” when in reality “an idea is worth nothing unless executed well”. And I think there’s a parallel when it comes to driver assistance technology in cars.

You see, if a car is to earn Euro NCAP’s maximum five-star safety rating, it must now be fitted with a host of systems – including lane-keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist recognition – that many What Car? readers I’ve spoken to clearly find deeply annoying. But I reckon it’s not the systems themselves that are the problem, but the flawed way in which they’ve been executed.

BMW i5 LT 360-degree camera image

I’d have to agree that in some modern cars this tech is far too eager to intervene. However, my BMW i5 proves this doesn’t have to be the case, for while it’s equipped with all of the latest active driver aids, these are so unobtrusive that most of the time I forget they’re there at all.

A good example is the speed limit warning system. In some other cars, this bongs incessantly when it thinks you’re exceeding the posted maximum – something that’s as irritating as it is distracting when it’s read the sign for an adjacent road and you’re actually doing nothing wrong. By contrast, the i5 gently hints that you might want to check your speed, by flashing on the head-up display what it believes to be the limit and emitting a couple of seconds of quiet bongs, before switching the latter off. As a result, it’s a feature I value instead of resent.

Similarly, while some cars with rear cross-traffic alert systems don’t want you to get anywhere near another vehicle when reversing, and so make manoeuvring in tight spaces more difficult than it should be, the i5’s system only usually cuts in when you’d want it to.

BMW i5 LT doing a three-point turn

I say ‘usually’, because the other day while doing a three-point turn, it inexplicably jammed on the brakes despite there being nobody anywhere near me and the nearest parked car or lamppost being about a metre away. Still, I guess even Jobs didn’t always get things right: hockey puck mouse, anyone?

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