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June 16, 2024

Review: 2024 BMW i5 eDrive40

You could argue that it’s hard for BMW to mess up the 5 Series, and with more than 10 million of them sold since 1972’s Gen 1, you could say that statement is right. But times are changing and for the latest version, the world’s most beloved mid-size luxury sedan is fighting a battle on two fronts—one considering its typical rivals, the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and second, against the deluge of new all-electric offerings like the Tesla Model S. BMW’s answer? The i5.

From a marketing standpoint, spinning off the 5 Series’ electric variant as a separate line in genius. Quite simply, it allows the i5 to take to its own direction—both in terms of design and engineering—if the need arises. For now, however, it’s basically the same eighth-generation (G60) 5 Series donut with a slightly tweaked wrapper and different filling. It’s a whiff of the familiar with a heavy sprinkling of tech mixed in.

If you’re expecting a loud, brash look (XM, 4 Series Gran Coupe), you don’t, thankfully, get that here. BMW designers have deliberately scaled back on the weird and focused on giving the i5 a much more conservative style. The front-end is still a bit busy, but having a paired down kidney grille is considered a win at this point. It’s illuminated, so take that how you will; personally, it’s chintzy. That grille and giant “5” on the C-pillar aside, the rest of the car’s very minimalist and clean. It’s focused on aero efficiency as shown by its 0.23 co-efficient of drag.

The same kind of thinking can be found inside, but designers may have trimmed things down a bit too much. There’s a lit crystalline strip that runs across the length of the dashboard and onto the front doors. BMW calls this the “Integration Bar,” and it controls everything from the hazard lights to the memory seats to the direction and opening/closing of the air vents (yes, they’re power actuated). This may have made the cabin look visually appealing (stark even), but it has done so at the expense of user-friendliness. It’s also worth saying that the Dark Graphite plastic trim surrounding that Interaction Bar is one of the hardest, cheapest-feeling materials ever fitted into a modern BMW.

Single-handedly, the defining experience of the i5 is its control system—the curved glass setup—consisting of a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch infotainment screen—is beautiful to behold, but like the Interaction Bar, difficult to master. The graphics are crystal clear, but because designers have packed so much functionality in here, looking for a particular set of controls can take forever. The icons are also impossible to hit with precision while the car’s moving too. Programmable shortcuts and the rotary control interface between the front seats make life easier. The biggest drawback? You have to use the touchscreen to adjust interior temperature because there are no physical controls for this. Weird.

It's a shame, really because the seats are still one of the best in the business—they’re supportive and comfortable whether you’re at the front or back. In typical BMW fashion, you sit close to the ground, though forward visibility isn’t compromised. The i5 also puts its near-three-meter-long wheelbase to good use, gifting everyone inside with loads of leg room. The rear occupants are seated slightly higher here promoting comfort, especially during long drives in traffic. It’s finished also in Veganza—BMW’s term for vegan leather. Generally, it’s alright and has the same tactility of non-premium cow hide.

The power-actuated trunk opens up to a cargo hold that’s sufficiently wide. It should be enough to carry more than a couple of luggage or golf bags provided that the spare tire’s removed. Since the i5 runs on regular, non-run flat tires and BMW Philippines has opted against fitting a tire inflator kit, you’d probably fit a couple of duffle bags at the back as it stands. Grocery shopping at a big box store or a trip to Ikea? Just forget about it.

At this point, BMW’s no stranger anymore when it comes to electric propulsion and the i5 manages to serve up a pretty darn good drive. The single electric motor generates 340 horsepower and 430 Nm of torque. These are pretty good numbers, but overall, it doesn’t offer the hit of acceleration as you’d come to expect from an EV in this power range. Still, the century sprint takes just 6 seconds and top speed is a respectable 193 km/h. As always, IconicSounds allows you to tune the soundtrack, but surprisingly, it no longer allows you to customize drive modes. There are driving themes (BMW MyModes) on offer, but that’s about it.

Connected to the motor is an 81.2-kWh (usable) lithium-ion battery which BMW says should take the i5 eDrive40 to around 582 kilometers between charges. However, in the real-world its range disappoints squeezing out just 325 kilometers of range thanks to its rather ordinary 4 km/kWh consumption (average speed 20 km/h). By comparison, the iX3 does better.

It may be still riding on the Cluster Architecture or CLAR, but it’s been heavily revised for its duty here. BMW’s leadership in creating the world’s best handling executive sedans is put on full display as the i5 melts away its size and girth on the road. The steering isn’t as communicative as 5 Series of the past, but the accuracy and sharpness are still there. The suspension setup is more on the firm side and that’s quite evident when tackling rougher patches of pavement. It does manage to quell the nasty stuff and settles in quite nicely on the expressway. The brakes too are well-calibrated; they’re the best in the business when switching from regen to hydraulic and vice-versa seamlessly.

For the Philippine market, there’s only one variant of the i5 and that’s priced at P 5.790-million. That’s quite a lot of additional change considering the 520i (the only gas-powered 5 Series so far) retails at P 800,000 less. It’s worth noting that with the exception of exterior trims and more driving assistance tech, the feature set is more or less the same. The i5 doesn’t even have a 360-degree camera and in this day and age, it is a crime.

With the first-ever i5, BMW wants to show the world that they’ve caught up in the all-electric executive sedan game. And they’ve have for the most part. Despite the switch to a different propulsion source, this is still the standard by which others are measured against. It looks sharply dressed with the driving manners to match. It’s also roomier, at least for people, than ever before. Sadly, BMW fangles up on the tech as it comes across as being too on the nose. The decision to clean up all the tactile switchgear and replace them with touchscreens and touch-sensitive buttons simply isn’t doing operability any favors. In this regard, the i5 and BMW is jumping into a fad without even thinking of its consequences. Perhaps BMW could take a closer look and better balance tradition with cutting-edge then they’d end up with a true winner. As it is, the i5 has gotten the dough right, but the filling needs a rework.

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40

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Bottom Line
Pros Crisp styling, sharp driving manners, excellent punch, usable space.
Cons Overly complicated tech, poor consumption, unusable trunk.
TL;DR It gets the fundamentals right, but should have dialed back on the tech.
Year Introduced 2024
Warranty 5 years / 200,000 kilometers,
8 years (for high-voltage battery)
The Basics
Body Type Luxury Sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/R
Under the Hood
Motor Type Electrically Excited Synchronous Motor
Maximum Output (BHP) 340
Maximum Torque (Nm) 430
Battery Size (kWh) 83.9 (81.2 usable)
Architecture (V) 400
Range, WLTP (km) 582
Range, As Tested (km) 325
Energy Consumption (km/kWh) 4.0 (average 20 km/h)
Estimated Charging Time, 1-Phase AC (0-100%) 11 hours
Estimated Charging Time, DC (10-80%) 0.5 hours
Charge Port Type 2 / CCS
Transmission Single Speed AT
Cruise Control Yes, Adaptive
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 5,060
Width (mm) 1,900
Height (mm) 1,515
Wheelbase (mm) 2,995
Curb Weight (kg) 2,205
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Vented Disc
Parking Brake Electronic, w/ Auto Hold
Tires Pirelli PZero MO
245/45 R 19 Y (f & r)
Recommend Tire Pressure (PSI) 41 all (partial),
41 front, 48 rear (full)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 8
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front & Rear
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR w/ pre-tensioners x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR w/ pre-tensioners x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Advanced Driver Assist System Acoustic Warning for Pedestrians
Forward Collision Warning
Lane Departure Warning w/ Steering Intervention
Other Safety Features Hill Descent Control
Tire Pressure Monitoring
Emergency Braking for Sides, Rear
Automatic Parking
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Adaptive
Fog Lamps Yes, Rear (LED)
Light Operation Auto
Wiper Operation Rain-sensing
Tailgate Electric
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic, Manual
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 8-way, w/ Memory
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Electric, 8-way
Seating Surface Vegan Leather
2nd Row 40/20/40 Split-Fold, w/ Arm Rest
3rd Row None
Sunroof No
Multi-Information Display / Size Yes, 12.3-inch
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Auto-dimming
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control 4-Zone, w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
USB Type A
USB Type C
BMW ConnectedDrive Services
Wireless Charger Yes
Infotainment Display / Size 14.9-inch
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay (Wireless)
Android Auto
# of Speakers 12, Harman Kardon
Steering Controls Yes

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