BMW i5 reader test team

Does the electric version of BMW’s latest 5 Series executive saloon impress as much as the larger i7 luxury car? Our readers give their verdict...

BMW i5 reader test team

The headline-grabber of the new 5 Series executive car line-up is the electric BMW i5. With sales of new petrol and diesel cars ceasing from 2030, it’s the electric variants that will take the brand forward in the future, so there’s a lot of pressure to get them right.

There are two versions of the i5: a 335bhp, rear-wheel-drive eDrive40 and a 593bhp, four-wheel-drive M60. We’ve driven the latter and found it to be fast, comfortable and more agile than its main rival, the Mercedes-Benz EQE. The interior is suitably luxurious and high-tech, with echoes of the larger BMW 7 Series limousine, and there’s plenty of room for four tall adults.

Officially, the eDrive40 has a range of up to 357 miles; that isn’t quite as far as the equivalent EQE can manage, but it should be plenty for most drivers. The M60, meanwhile, promises up to 315 miles between charges.

Prices are expected to start at around £65,000, significantly undercutting the EQE, with the M60 likely to cost around £85,000.

To find out how well received the i5 is likely to be, we invited a group of readers to check it out and give us their verdicts.

Brian Groom

BMW i5 reader test team

Age 61
Job Retired
Drives BMW 4 Series Convertible, Volvo XC40

“The 4 Series is my third BMW. I previously owned a BMW 5 Series and a BMW X3, so I’m keen to see how the 5 Series has changed to go electric.

“I like the fact that the i5 is still recognisable as a 5 Series; after all, it’s been popular for many years.

“The interior is an improvement on my car’s. In the past, BMWs felt a bit conservative compared with Audis and Mercedes, but this latest car feels far more modern.

“The driving position is great and the digital instrument panel is easy to use, with intuitive menus and sharp graphics. It’s great to see the rotary iDrive controller has been retained, too. My wife’s XC40 doesn’t have anything like it, and it’s much harder to use many of the controls while you’re driving.

“The i5’s vegan leather seats are excellent. I appreciate the sustainability and the fact that they feel just as supple and comfortable as genuine leather ones.

“Although most of my driving is long-distance, I like the i5 enough to consider going electric. The range is enough for me, and there’s an app that lets you plan long trips in advance .”

Star rating 5/5

Richard Stubbing

BMW i5 reader test team

Age 63
Job Insurance retentions manager
Drives Mercedes E-Class Estate

“I wanted to see the i5 because it's a direct competitor to my Mercedes. In terms of space, it compares well. I’m 6ft 3in tall, and I had no trouble finding a comfortable driving position.

“I love the way the i5 looks. The fact that it’s still recognisable as a 5 Series is important because it’s such a well-known model. Mercedes’ electric models look different from its traditional cars, and I don’t find them as appealing.

“I’m particularly interested in the i5 Touring, because I often carry two large dogs. And I’d go for the four-wheel-drive M60, because it would have better roadholding than the two-wheel-drive eDrive40 in poor conditions.

“One concern is that the new 5 Series won’t come with an opening sunroof. Although the panoramic glass roof lets in lots of light, I like being able to get some fresh air on the move.

“I’m yet to be convinced that a pure electric car is for me, but I’m keen to drive the i5 to see if it ’s as good as conventionally powered BMWs.”

Star rating 4/5

Steve Wigzell

BMW i5 reader test team

Age 71
Job Retired
Drives Mercedes GLB, Porsche Boxster

“The previous 5 Series Touring was on my shortlist when I was replacing my car last year, so I’m interested to see the latest version.

“I like the interior design of the i5. The dashboard and controls are well laid out and the driving position is good.

“Having personal settings for the driver’s seat and mirrors is important because my wife and I are very different in size. It’s great that you can set up your profile and then choose the driver via the app to automatically adjust the seat and mirrors to your preferred positions.

“I’m less impressed with the overall packaging. Although it’s bigger than the previous 5 Series, the i5 doesn’t feel much roomier. The rear seats feel a bit tight for space and the seatbacks don’t recline, so the i5 isn’t as versatile as some other new cars.

“It’s also a shame there isn’t a storage space under the bonnet for the charging cables. Although it’s useful to have a separate storage area for them under the boot floor, access wouldn’t be as easy when the boot is full.

“The i5’s exterior styling is sleek, but features like the long bonnet aren’t necessary on an EV, so maybe the styling should have changed to reflect that.”

Star rating 3/5

Paul Fenner

BMW i5 reader test team

Age 66
Job Retired
Drives BMW M3 Convertible, BMW X3

“I’m looking to replace my X3 soon, possibly with an electric model, but I haven’t been impressed enough to buy one yet, so I wanted to see if the i5 is better than the rest.

“I love the looks of the i5. It’s the first electric car I’ve looked at that really appeals to me.

“I don’t think it’s that roomy inside, though, even though it’s bigger than the previous 5 Series. That said, I’m impressed with the size of the boot and the folding rear seatbacks, which are easy to lower and lie almost flat, creating a large extended load space.

“I’m not convinced that the i5’s range would be enough for me. My wife and I live in rural Suffolk and regularly drive to Scotland and Devon. Once you factor in bad weather and high-speed motorway driving, the eDrive40’s range could drop below 300 miles, and that would be a concern.

“It’s good that you can preselect charging locations on the sat-na v, though, and that you don’t have to have loads of different charging apps; you can just use the BMW network to access lots of different chargers.

“While the i5 has lots of positive points, overall I don’t think it moves the electric car game on far enough .”

Star rating 3/5

Martin Corney

BMW i5 reader test team

Age 59
Job Company CEO
Drives BMW 5 Series Touring, MGB, Volkswagen Polo

“I’ve recently become a BMW convert, because the brand’s cars drive and hold the road so well, and their driver convenience and comfort are all first-rate.

“I’m very impressed with the i5 from the driver’s point of view. The large digital instrument panel could have been daunting, but it’s surprisingly easy to navigate, and I’m pleased to see BMW has kept the iDrive rotary controller for the infotainment. In some cars, it takes time to get to grips with all of the controls, but that’s not the case in the i5. It’s confidence-inspiring.

“Having heard about the safety features the i5 has, I’d feel very safe driving it. I regularly make use of the adaptive cruise control on my 5 Series to maintain a set speed on the motorway, and the fact that the i5 takes this technology further, by adding more automation, will be useful for driving in congested traffic.

“It's a very stylish-looking car, and I like the lighting around the front grille and the distinctive LED headlights; they set it apart from other cars.

“The i5’s range is good, but I’m personally not ready to go fully electric yet, because I don’t like the idea of having to use the public charging network .”

Star rating 5/5

Andrew Iddles

BMW i5 reader test team

Age 72
Job Retired
Drives BMW 3 Series Touring, Porsche Boxster, Porsche Macan

“My wife and I have owned BMWs for more than 30 years; our first was a 1988 London Motor Show car, a 325i Touring that we bought in 1991. Before switching to the Macan, I had a string of BMW SUVs, but I haven’t yet tried an electric model.

“I believe BMW is at the forefront of the introduction of quality electric cars. It would be more reassuring to buy an electric model from a brand like that than from a new, unknown one, because I know the car would be extremely well-engineered and I’d have the back-up of a good dealer network if there were any issues.

“The i5 is a stunning-looking car, albeit larger than I feel we need for today’s roads. That said, the exterior is very pleasing. I like the fact that it still has a front grille even though it doesn’t need one, but it’s better that it’s smaller and more subtle than those of some other BMW models, such as the 7 Series.

“I like all the driver assistance features you get on the i5, such as the head-up display and blindspot warnings. But I’m not tech-savvy and I prefer buttons rather than touchscreens, so it’s good to see the rotary iDrive controller has been retained.”

Star rating 5/5

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