The BMW i5 is the all-electric version of the eighth-generation 5-series model. Within the i5 range are both the i5 eDrive40 M Sport and the more powerful i5 M60 xDrive. I had the chance to drive both cars at BMW’s UK event last month and though both models are awe-inspiring, it’s the more powerful M60 that really blew me away.
BMW’s M series is a tuned collection of high-performance cars, with the M standing for Motorsport. Crucially the M Sport models also have that sporty look but don’t offer the same level of performance.
The 5 series has had an M series version since 1985, and there is a new petrol version of the M5 competition that also launches this year. The i5 M60 is the first all-electric M5 and it comes very close in performance to its ICE counterpart.
Price and availability
The i5 M60 starts from £97,745 / $84,100 on the road. Adding the ultimate pack of extras, which includes the Driving Assistant Professional, Head-up display, panoramic glass roof, and Parking Assistant Pro takes it up to £109,945. In the US, this is covered by the Premium package and takes you to $87,200.
The i5 eDrive40 M Sport is cheaper, starting from £74,105 / $66,800. However, this model is only rear-wheel drive (not four-wheel drive) and doesn’t offer the same power and acceleration.
Features and design
One feature that is likely to please many drivers is that the i5’s grill isn’t oversized in the way that many of the recent models have been. Both the BMW i4 and BMW i7 had distinctive but divisive grill designs that followed the design of the taller SUV models.
The chrome around the grill has been replaced with LED lights though, which give the car a strong identity in the dark. The headlights have distinctive four-eye LED lights with blue accents inside. The whole front points out slightly, giving it a shark nose effect and a sporty edge.
The BMW i5 M60 gets more prominent air intakes and front skirts than the standard i5. It also features a carbon fibre finish on the wing mirrors, unique 20-inch Aero wheels with large red brake callipers and subtle M series badges on the grill side and back.
Inside, the i5 looks much the same as the other 5-series models but the i5 M60 gains a few special sporty features, like the red line on top of the steering wheel, the M accent trim and the three stripes (blue, navy and red) on the seatbelts.
The highlight is the large curved display that stretches from behind the steering wheel across to the centre, made up of a 12.3-inch driver info screen and a 14.9-inch touchscreen centre display. We’ve seen similar screens in the BMW i7 and iX models and it’s no less impressive this time round.
Performance and handling
The electric motor produces 442kW, which is the equivalent of 601hp, and has a 0-62mph acceleration of 3.8 seconds. This comes from a rear axle motor giving 340hp and a front axle motor that gives 261hp. That balance of power helps with the handling too, something that has been fine-tuned by the BMW Motorsport engineers.
Despite this sheer power, the 83.9kWh battery can still deliver 284 to 315 miles of range. That’s 3.5 to 3.88 miles per kWh (Mi/kWh). Of course, that figure will drop considerably if you drive the car in Sport mode for prolonged periods, but for longer runs there’s still more than enough here to last you between rest stops.
Regarding recharging, the i5 M60 can charge at 22kW AC and up to 205kW for DC fast chargers, meaning a 10% to 80% charge in around 30 mins. That’s beyond what most fast chargers currently deliver, and while some models provide higher maximum charge rates, this is plenty.
When it comes to the driving experience, the i5 M60 is very smooth. What I like about the BMW electric range is that it feels very normal – perhaps as they mostly share the body with a petrol and diesel engine version, so the electric motor becomes a third option.
Though there are sporty elements here, you could easily drive this car as your daily commute. Set into Efficient, Relax or Expressive modes the car feels gentle and easygoing, even though you know it has plenty of power.
Put the car into Sport mode – or pull the left pedal behind the steering wheel for a 10-second burst – and it’s a different story. The steering tightens up, the suspension hardens and the synthesised engine. The raw power that is available in this mode feels just like any petrol M series I’ve driven in the past and is a lot of fun to drive.
Should I buy the BMW i5 M60?
The BMW 5-series has traditionally been the more executive model in the range. The car the managing director or senior manager would drive, rather than the 3-series, or maybe the 4-series. The M series model though has a different audience. The M5 has always been well respected as a true performance machine and certainly draws a younger audience too.
With the all-electric versions, this set of i5 cars is once again appealing to a wider audience. While these cars will no doubt remain popular with existing 5-series owners wanting to go electric, the style and tech in these models make them a status symbol for those with discerning taste.
More than any other of its cars, an all-electric M5 would have a lot to prove. But it seems, from my first impressions driving the car, that it has done the badge proud. For most drivers, the i5 eDrive40 M Sport is more than enough car. It’s fast, full of tech and looks great on the road. However, if you want something that is as at home on the Nurburgring race track as it is the M4, the i5 M60 delivers that wild streak that you’re looking for.