mReview: BMW i5 eDrive40 – Electing For Electric

Published by on . Updated on 24 May 2024

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1713446178535 Mreview Bmw I5 Edrive40 Electing For Electric Featured

BMW has stuck firmly to its guns of having a shared platform between their ICE and EV vehicles, there are pros and cons to that approach but the upside for us is that it allows us to directly compare the new i5 and the 520i.

The first-ever i5 is an electric-powered version of the best-selling 5 Series sedan and because of BMW’s EV philosophy, the two cars share a lot of its underpinnings as opposed to the i5 having a dedicated EV platform. 

On one hand, this means that fans of a certain car like the 5 Series are able to simply get an electric-powered 5 Series instead of something like the Mercedes EQE which is radically different from the E-Class. 

On the other hand, not having a dedicated platform for EV and ICE vehicles means that compromises have to be made, of which there are several noticeable ones in the i5 but we’ll touch on that as we go on. 

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Appearance-wise, the i5 is nearly identical to the 520i we reviewed here and as such shares much of the same pros and cons as its ICE-powered sister. The i5 is still long and wide with a stretched bonnet and squashed rear. It still carries a business-saloon vibe and there’s no mistaking its a BMW. There are slight differences in the form of different wheels and BMW i badges dotted around the exterior. Our test car was also finished in a brilliant white paint job that looks excellent on the i5.

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1713446206878 D38 V3114 FotorThe i5 still has a fancy-looking cabin, especially with those ambient lighting panels.

The interior of the i5 is also largely the same as that of the 520i which means it also has all of the same grievances as the 520i. Chief of which are still the lack of physical buttons (every single push button except the auto start/stop toggle are touchpads), the uncomfortable seats, and the air vent controls. I’ve already complained about them enough in my 520i review here so I won’t be elaborating on them again in this one. 

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1713446214113 D38 V3118 FotorThe vegan leather looks great and is ready to veil any spilled wine.

The plus points are that the giant curved 12.3-inch infotainment screen and 14.9-inch digital gauge cluster are also present for easy, high-quality access to all of the car’s features as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for when you want to listen to your tunes through the Harman Kardon sound system. The fit and finish of the i5’s cabin is also equally as good as it was in the 520i with vegan Veganza leather draped across most of the interior. 

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1713446223899 D38 V3120 FotorNo frunk in the i5, the boot is plenty spacious though.

The biggest difference between the i5 and the 520i is, of course, its powertrain. The i5’s electric heart comes in the form of a single motor on the rear axle mated to an 81.2kWh battery to produce 340hp and up to 400Nm of torque when using the Boost paddle, enough to get to 100km/h from 0 in six seconds and top out at 193km/h. 

The i5 has more power and torque than the 520i and its noticeable especially in how it drives. While I felt the 520i had lots of show and not all that much go, the i5 provides the drive I had hoped the 520i would’ve had. I believe the i5 makes much better use of this platform than the petrol-powered 520i, attributed in no small part to the lack of the 2-litre 4-cylinder engine. 

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The i5 feels much more poised as a luxury vehicle than the 520i, its EV-nature giving it a quiet and serene drive worthy of the 5-er name. If you really wanted, you could still make it noisy with the Iconic Sounds feature which plays a crafted tune when you step on the accelerator. However, the sound it does make is ridiculous and its a good thing it can be switched off because it really takes away from the peace and calm of the i5’s drive. 

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1713446251387 D38 V3137 FotorPull on that for the full 400Nm of torque to leave others in your eco-friendly dust.

The i5 does its best work as a gentle cruiser with its lovely ride quality and feather-light steering. Frontward visibility can be a little bit of a challenge in tight spaces due to the perspective over the hood but on the open road this doesn’t come to mind at all. The long wheelbase and solid chassis mean that even at high speeds, the i5 feels secure and well within its limits, perfect for the effortless motoring that many will enjoy in this car. 

You can also use the one-pedal driving capability to remove the need for you to brake at all. The i5 is able to use the regenerative braking of the electric motor to slow the car down instead of the physical brakes, which means you get more juice back in the battery and you reduce wear on the brake pads. 

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However, it must be said that the i5 still lacks several features that really should be included at this price point like lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and even heated seats. It feels like a real miss when instead of useful and frankly, expected, features like these, BMW has elected to include gimmicks like My Modes that look neat but accomplish nothing practical. 

But on the whole, I found my experience with the i5 to be much more pleasant and enjoyable than I did in its fossil-fuelled sibling. Perhaps the future really is electric because in this most direct of comparisons, I know which powerplant has won out, and its not the one with dino-juice in it. 

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BMW i5 eDrive40
Price (at time of publishing): $379,888 including COE  VES Band: A1
Current-excited synchronous motor
Charging Rate:
205 kW DC, 
11 kW AC
Power & Torque:
250 kW (335 bhp) 
& 400 Nm
Driven Wheels:
5.1 km/kWh
0-100 km/h:
6 seconds
Top Speed:
193 km/h
Battery Capacity:
81.2 kWh
Dimensions (L x W x H):
5,060 mm x 1,900 mm 
x 1,515 mm
2,995 mm
Cargo Capacity:
490 litres

Read More: mReview: BMW 520i Launch Edition - Is New Always Better?

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