In the same week that saw Parisians vote in favour of charging SUV drivers more to park in the city centre – regardless of whether they are electric vehicles or not – I present to you the perfect antidote to today’s SUV obsession.
It’s the new Touring version of the BMW i5, and all you need know is it’s an electric 5 Series estate with a big, practical boot, all-wheel-drive…oh, and a whopping 601 horsepower.
Yes, really. Go for the i5 Touring in full-fat M60 flavour and the dual-motor drivetrain pumps out more power than a brand-new Porsche 911 Turbo, yet still has space for children, dogs and a trip to the garden centre.
Maximum torque is 795 Nm (586 ft-lbs in old money), the top speed is 143 mph and 62 mph is shown the door in 3.9 seconds.
Of course, we all know how easy it is to make a dual-motor EV out-drag a supercar. But I’m particularly excited about the i5 Touring because it offers a compelling alternative to the SUV. It even looks good, by contemporary BMW standards, and if you go for the more sensible i5 eDrive40 version (you will), prices start just below £70,000. For that you still get a plentiful 340 horsepower, a perfectly adequate 400 Nm of torque, a claimed electric range of between 300 and 348 miles from an 81.2 kWh battery, and a 0-62 mph time that won’t make your dog sick. Six seconds, since you ask.
Inside, BMW has fitted its sixth-generation 5 Series Touring with the same dual-display infotainment system seen on the latest 3, 4 and 7 Series, which can be navigated with prods and swipes, or by rotating and pressing the familiar iDrive controller. Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also included, naturally.
There’s a head-up display with optional augmented reality tech that overlays your view ahead with navigation instructions, sports seats as standard, automated parking controllable from your phone up to 200 metres away, 5G connectivity and YouTube streaming for keeping children entertained at the charger. Adaptive suspension and the all-important heat pump are standard-fit across the i5 Touring family.
A plug-in hybrid with a two-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder engine will also be available, with slightly less performance than the entry-level EV model and an electric range of 52 to 60 miles. Interestingly, all variants have the same boot space – 570 litres with the rear seats up, or 1,700 with them folded down. For comparison, BMW’s massive iX SUV has 500 litres and 1,750 litres respectively, while the £150,000 BMW XM falls short with the seats up, at 527 litres, but wins back a little when they’re folded flat, with 1,820 litres total.
What I’m trying to say is, BMW’s enormous SUVs may sit higher and make their drivers feel superior, but there’s almost no difference in boot space between them and the smaller, smarter and more socially acceptable i5 Touring. I know which one I’d rather have.
Prices start at £69,040 for the i5 Touring, with the rapid M60 adding £30,000 to that figure. Both are available now. The hybrid doesn’t have a price just yet and will arrive later in the year.