Independent, Expert EV Reviews & Advice Since 2006

BMW i5 eDrive40 M Sport Pro Saloon Review

The BMW 5 Series Saloon has evolved into the all-electric i5, with added refinement, comfort and technology, and the eDrive40 model offers rewarding rear-wheel drive handling.

  • BMW i5 eDrive40
  • BMW i5 eDrive40
  • BMW i5 eDrive40
  • BMW i5 eDrive40
  • BMW i5 eDrive40
  • BMW i5 eDrive40
  • BMW i5 eDrive40
  • BMW i5 eDrive40
  • BMW i5 eDrive40
  • BMW i5 eDrive40
  • BMW i5 eDrive40
  • BMW i5 eDrive40
Green Car Guide Rating: 10/10

Key stats

  • Model/Engine size:   BMW i5 eDrive40 M Sport Pro Saloon
  • Fuel:   Electric
  • Electric driving range (WLTP): 312 – 356 miles
  • Maximum rapid charging rate:   205 kW

Summary

  • Refinement moves to another level
  • Excellent ride comfort
  • Low centre of gravity enhances rear-wheel drive handling
  • Latest technology includes infotainment system with a focus on the driver

Background

Here at Green Car Guide we’ve been reviewing cars for over 17 years, and throughout that time BMW has consistently developed new models that are generally great to drive and also efficient. The BMW i5 Saloon is the brand’s latest new all-electric model; has it managed to retain the driving qualities that people love about the 5 Series, whilst also managing to move things forward in terms of efficiency?

BMW i5 eDrive40

BMW i5 eDrive40

Design & Engineering

We often make a point of saying that design is a subjective thing, and different people will have their own views about individual cars. However there are certain cars that we have on test that gain an almost positive universal reaction from people, and the BMW i5 is one of those cars: the i5 looks like a sporty, fast, modern BMW saloon. Despite the very grey paint colour, a number of people commented favourably on the i5’s appearance – and the 21-inch ‘Individual aero BiColour Jet black alloy wheels’ were liked by all (so they should be, being a £2,000 option rather than the standard 19-inch wheels on M Sport models, or the 20-inch wheels on M Sport Pro models).

The i5’s design gives a feel of the simpler styling of the forthcoming BMW Vision Neue Klasse – the next 3 Series. However less design doesn’t mean that the car is smaller – just the opposite in fact, the new 5 Series is almost 100mm longer than the previous seventh-generation model, and it now measures 5,060mm in length (you’ll notice this when trying to park in a standard-sized parking bay). The extra length results in lots of rear legroom for rear seat passengers, and a long boot, with 490 litres of luggage space; a large compartment under the boot floor allows you to store charging cables.

Inside the car, the cabin looks and feels very high quality, and the ongoing transition to banish buttons continues, with most controls on the wide touchscreen. There’s one thing that BMW has done that catches everyone out – the interior handles to open the doors are the opposite way round to virtually every other car – and this confuses people even more in the dark. There’s a range of lighting in the interior – maybe BMW should put a light in the interior door handles so people can see that they’re the wrong way round.

While we’re on the subject of lighting, even the front grille lights up (as per the i7) – BMW ‘Iconic Glow’ is standard on M Sport Pro and i5 M60 xDrive models.

There’s also news that’s less about bling and more about ethical living – the new 5 Series is the first BMW in the UK to feature leather-free Veganza upholstery as standard from launch, which is found on the seats, dashboard and door panels.

The BMW i5 eDrive40 has an 81.2 kWh battery (usable capacity) and a 335 hp electric motor at the rear, giving rear-wheel drive. The i5 has a hefty towing capacity up to 2,000kg.

BMW i5 eDrive40

BMW i5 eDrive40

BMW i5 eDrive40 Driving Experience

Just when you thought that electric cars couldn’t get any more refined, the BMW i5 comes along. It feels like every aspect of the driving experience has been optimised by BMW’s refinement engineers, including all touch points with the car and noise levels, and especially the ride quality, where there must be some wizardry afoot, because our test car had huge 21-inch alloy wheels and very low profile tyres, yet it still delivered excellent ride quality. Life on the motorway in the i5 is about as cosseting as it gets – possibly with the exception of the BMW i7.

Of course the BMW 5 Series has always been known as the car that can excel on motorways, but which can also provide a rewarding driving experience on twisting A and B-roads. The i5 sits very low – especially compared to most other new cars on the roads, which are high-riding SUVs – and the i5 is further lowered by M Sport suspension, so the rear-wheel drive handling is well-sorted, but the i5 is quite big and heavy, so it doesn’t have the ultimate agility of an i4.

A key element of the BMW experience is the ability to get a good driving position, and the i5 doesn’t disappoint, with lots of adjustability for the seat, including the angle of the seat base, and steering wheel.

Then there’s the performance. The i5 has a power output of 335 hp, and a 0-62 mph time of 6.0 seconds, so it’s no slouch, but it’s not the fastest executive electric saloon, because there’s such a thing as the BMW i5 M60 xDrive which delivers 601hp, all-wheel drive, and a 0-62 mph time of 3.8 seconds.

One thing we love about current and recent BMWs is the way they provide information when you’re driving. In the i5 the driver has the BMW Curved Display, which consists of a 12.3-inch information display behind the steering wheel, which gives you information such as speed and a simple satnav map, you’ve got the wide (14.9-inch) central touchscreen with excellent, detailed mapping, and the (optional) head-up display gives you speed information and a clear – and large – map projected on to the windscreen right in your line of sight. This is amazingly helpful compared to cars which only have their main information on a central touchscreen.

The i5 retains BMW’s iDrive system, which is still so much better than cars where you have to press buttons on the touchscreen for all controls. The i5 has a rotary controller, with shortcut buttons laid out around it for functions such as Nav, Media and Phone, and it works brilliantly.

However BMW has done something strange. Over recent years most BMWs had drive mode buttons on the central console right next to the driver. To select Sport drive mode, you pressed the Sport button once and you were instantly in Sport mode. Job done. BMW has now decided to replace the drive mode switches with a button for ‘My Modes’, which isn’t easily accessible, instead it’s been stuck in the middle of a collection of controls on the centre console. When you press the My Modes button, it brings up a screen giving you options of Personal, Sport, Efficient, Relax, Expressive and Digital Art. If you press Sport, apart from improved responses and Hans Zimmer’s futuristic sporty soundtrack (‘BMW IconicSounds Electric’), a graphic of red mountains takes over the central touchscreen and stays there. If you want to get your map back, you have to press the Nav button. So you now have to press three buttons to change drive mode rather than just one. This is a backward step.

And then there’s the issue of what do the new modes do? We know what Sport means, and we know what Efficient means. But if you select Expressive, does that give you Sport drive settings? One thing that Expressive does provide you with is a noise that sounds like two massive spaceships grinding together, together with a yellow interior theme.

BMW claims that the Efficient My Mode with the new Max Range function can provide up to 25% extra range.

The i5 features the ‘BMW Interaction Bar’, as introduced in the latest 7 Series, which is a strip that runs across the dashboard and into the doors, and it changes colour depending on the My Mode that’s chosen, for instance turning red in Sport mode. Strangely, in Sport mode you also get a weird graphic on the head up display replacing the sat nav directions.

You can increase the level of brake regeneration, by selecting B on the new, small gear selector, or selecting high, medium or low braking energy recovery in the BMW iDrive menu, rather than via any steering wheel-mounted paddles.

There is actually a paddle behind the left-hand side of the steering wheel, but, unlike in some EVs, this doesn’t increase the regen, which effectively results in the same effect as engine braking, instead it does the opposite – it gives a short power boost for maximum acceleration.

New cars have lane departure warning systems and beeping noises if you go over the speed limit; in the i5 there’s a button in the centre console with the graphic of a car and three lines which enables you to switch off both of these features, and to adjust other settings such as suspension, but you need to do this every time you start the car.

Controls such as the gear selector are available with the ‘crystal glass’ appearance as seen in the BMW iX, and the i5 features in-car gaming with AirConsole, allowing you to play games while charging.

BMW i5 eDrive40

BMW i5 eDrive40

BMW i5 eDrive40 Electric Range and Charging

The BMW i5 eDrive40 has an official WLTP combined electric driving range of 312 – 356 miles – this varies primarily due to the size of the wheels. Our test car, with the largest 21-inch wheels, sits at the lowest end of this range. Our real-world range findings support this; after a week on test with mixed driving, the real-world range, in mid-December, averaged 232 miles. The range improved during the week, suggesting that the car had been driven enthusiastically prior to our review.

The BMW i5 eDrive40 has a maximum ultra-rapid charging rate of 205 kW. This enables a 10% to 80% DC charge in 30 minutes, meaning that 97 miles of range can be added in 10 minutes if starting with a charge level of 10%.

The i5 can AC charge at up to 11kW as standard and optionally up to 22kW, with 22kW being standard on the i5 M60 xDrive.

The BMW i5 has a heat pump as standard, which should minimise loss to the battery capacity when using the cabin heating in cold weather; waste heat generated by the electric motors is used to control the temperature of the battery in the BMW i5 for the first time; and the charging has been optimised to reduce in a curve rather than in steps.

How to charge an electric car

BMW i5 eDrive40

BMW i5 eDrive40

Price And Model Range

The basic price of the BMW i5 eDrive40 is £76,200, so it can’t be described as an affordable EV. And then there’s the somewhat lengthy list of options on our test car… including Brooklyn Grey metallic paint (£900), 21-inch Individual aero BiColour Jet black alloy wheels (£2,000), Panoramic Glass Sunroof (£1,600), Sun Protection Glass (£470), Crafted Clarity Controls (£600), Bowers & Wilkins Surround Sound System (£1,250), M Carbon Exterior Styling (£1,750), Technology Plus Pack including Head up Display (£3,300), and Comfort Plus Pack including Front and Rear Heated Seats, Heated Steering Wheel and Electric Bootlid (£5,000). All the options totalled £17,270, and together with delivery costs, the total price was elevated to a pretty substantial £94,375.

The BMW i5 eDrive40 is available in M Sport or M Sport Pro trim. There’s also the BMW i5 M60 xDrive, which delivers 601hp, all-wheel drive, and 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds. A BMW i5 Touring will go on sale in spring 2024.

Prices and specifications correct at time of review

BMW i5 eDrive40

BMW i5 eDrive40

Conclusion

The BMW i5 eDrive40 offers huge levels of refinement, ride comfort, technology and luxury. Its low centre of gravity combined with its rear-wheel drive chassis delivers rewarding handling – although with a kerb weight of 2,205kg, the i5 can’t be described as agile. With a 0-62 mph acceleration time of 6.0 seconds, performance is good – but not as good as the BMW i5 M60 xDrive, with 601hp and a 0-62 mph acceleration time of 3.8 seconds. We love the clear way that the i5 presents information such as satnav directions when you’re driving, but it’s a shame that selecting a drive mode has gone from one press of a button to two or three presses of a button. The real-world range was disappointing, however the car was tested in mid-December, but the one main area where the i5 falls down is affordability, and with a boot, it’s not as practical as a hatchback. But despite this, because it’s such a polished all-round package, it’s hard not to award the BMW i5 eDrive40 a Green Car Guide rating of 10 out of 10.

Car facts and figures BMW i5 eDrive40 M Sport Pro Saloon Review

  • Test electric driving range: 232 miles (winter)
  • Consumption (WLTP): 18.7 – 16.2 kWh/62 miles
  • CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
  • Vehicle tax rate (VED):   £0
  • Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax liability (2023/24): 2%
  • Price:   £76,200
  • Insurance group:   TBC
  • Power:   335 hp
  • Torque:   400 Nm
  • Max speed:   120 mph
  • 0-62 mph:   6.0 seconds
  • Weight:   2,205 kg
  • Towing capacity:  2,000 kg
Paul Clarke

Review by:
Paul Clarke, GreenCarGuide Editor