2024 BMW i5 Is Munich’s Best EV to Date

Jackson Wheeler
9 Min Read


  • In November, the 2024 BMW i5 all-electric sedan comes to the US, slotting in above the i4 and below the i7.
  • While the i5 interior is well appointed, its second row is not nearly as cavernous as that of the i7. But on the agility front, the i5 cruises effortlessly and enjoys pushing the limits on the twisty coastal roads around Lisbon.
  • If range is a top priority, the eDrive40 model is a lot less expensive than the M60 xDrive and offers an extra 39 miles of range without feeling like a dramatic step down in performance.

BMW presents a quandary to shoppers eager to join the battery-electric revolution and who may have not been quite ready when the i4 sedan and iX crossover launched a few years ago, or when the big-ticket i7 flagship sedan arrived in 2022.

In November, the 2024 BMW i5 sedan comes along—a “just right” sport-leaning package positioned above the i4 and below the i7.

The quandary is this: Purchase the less expensive i5 eDrive40 with rear-wheel drive, 335 hp, and an estimated 295 miles of range, or step on up to the i5 M60 xDrive with AWD, 593 hp, and 256 miles of range. Having driven both of them on winding roads near Lisbon, Portugal, it’s an extremely difficult choice.

The two battery-electric luxury sedans are part of the coordinated launch of BMW’s eighth-generation 5-Series, which arrives this month with a 255-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in the 530i, followed next month by the 540i with a 375-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder. In 2024, a plug-in hybrid 5-Series will come along.

Munich followed the same cadence when the new 7-Series flagship sedan arrived a year ago, with the identical sheetmetal and overall styling used for both internal-combustion and battery-electric versions. That will change in a few years when BMW’s dedicated Neue Klasse EVs come to market.

But for now this is a smart strategy to get EVs to market cost-effectively and quickly, without potentially turning off loyal customers with unique, futuristic shapes intended to optimize aerodynamics.

Mercedes-Benz has tried this other route with its EQE and EQS sedans, standing apart from its E-Class and S-Class internal-combustion models, and the sales reports suggest the strategy is working.

BMW wants to have at least one BEV in every major vehicle segment, and it’s positioning the i5 as offering the comfort of the 7-Series and the agility of the 3-Series. While the i5 interior is well appointed (with fully vegan materials), its second row is not nearly as cavernous as that of the i7, so it lags slightly in comfort, understandably at a lower price.

But is the i5 equally agile as the 3-series? Tough question, because the 3-Series is offered only with internal-combustion engines, so it has a 1400-pound advantage over the lightest i5, the RWD eDrive40 (4916 pounds).

If you can’t decide between the two and price hasn’t swayed you, consider the difference in range.

That’s a lot of extra mass, and yet the i5, with a single rear motor drawing up to 81.2 kWh of electricity from its lithium-ion batteries in the floor, can sprint to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and is capable of a top speed of 120 mph with performance tires.

The i5 eDrive40 cruises effortlessly and enjoys pushing the limits on the twisty coastal roads around Lisbon. Sure, customers who love their M3, M4, or M5 will feel more at home with the 593 hp and 586 lb-ft of instantaneous torque in the two-motor M60 xDrive, which is much faster 0-60 mph (3.7 seconds) and has a top speed of 130 mph.

But even those high-octane customers would be wise to get some seat time in the eDrive40, and not only because of the disparity in pricing. The i5 eDrive40 starts at $67,795, while the M60 xDrive begins at $85,095.

And telling apart the two models without seeing the badges is nearly impossible. They’re equally handsome, carrying on the general 5-Series form that dates to 1972.

The extra money for the M60 brings some substantial standard upgrades: the M Sport package, M Sport brakes with blue calipers, adaptive suspension, 19-inch Aerodynamic light alloys with run-flat tires, M steering wheel, heated front multi-contour seats, and Bowers & Wilkins surround sound.

So if you’re still struggling to decide between the two and the price hasn’t swayed you, consider the difference in range. If that’s a top priority, the eDrive40 is a lot less expensive than the M60 xDrive and offers an extra 39 miles of range without feeling like a dramatic step down in performance.

2024 bmw i5VIEW PHOTOS

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive in Frozen Pure Grey metallic.

BMW

With either model, you will get a modern, attractive interior with premium materials, supportive sport seats, and a curved display along the top of the instrument panel using BMW’s latest operating system 8.5 and serving as your portal to all the driving information, apps, and functionality you’ll want—and some you won’t.

The central display functions as a touchscreen (and responds quickly) but also can be controlled by BMW’s latest iDrive joystick in the center console, beautifully trimmed in contoured crystal.

It’s here in this vast virtual menu that you’ll get trip information, connect your phone, set a destination, pick your favorite ambient light color, and much more.

Along the bottom of that main screen is a new menu bar that was added since last year’s launch of 7-Series and i7, to give drivers quicker access to climate controls and other features without having to search through menus. This is a worthwhile addition because those icons are now always visible on the main screen, without making it appear cluttered.

The i5, with its 400-volt electrical architecture, has a maximum charging rate of 205 kW, and BMW says both models can DC fast charge from 10% to 80% in 30 minutes.

And you can adjust how much brake energy is captured while decelerating, but it requires a journey into the main menu, where you select Low, Moderate, or High (which is close to one-pedal driving), or Adaptive, which is the most intelligent.

Some drivers (myself included) like the ability to easily switch between levels of brake energy recuperation depending on the situation, especially with paddles mounted to the steering wheel. But for the i5 (with M Sport package), there’s one paddle on the left side labeled “Boost” to momentarily crank up torque to 317 lb-ft in the eDrive40 or to 605 lb-ft in the M60.

With or without the boost function, the i5 is a worthy competitor as an enticing all-electric sedan in an SUV crossover world.

How do you think the market will greet the all-electric BMW i5, offered with two distinctive performance levels? Please comment below.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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