Sustainable business class electrified drive done right
BMW has an unrelenting mindset when they want to pursue something.
It is a philosophy that has resulted in some of the most iconic cars to date. They wanted a pleasurable car to drive, so they kept on with the front engine/rear drive format. They didn't want an SUV per se but needed something big for their markets, so they pursued the SAVs that drove in a much livelier manner.
That's just how BMW is. So when they announced an electric 5 Series, we expected them to go the whole nine yards. That was how they tailored our experience of the new BMW i5.
Thirteen thousand and sixty-four (13,064) kilometers was the distance traveled to test the new BMW i5, the brand’s first business class electric vehicle riding on half a century of success – the 5 Series.
Being sustainable isn't just about going electric. It's a rethink of the lifestyle that goes beyond the drive. Every step of the way, BMW rethought the way we would experience the car. They went for a plant-based menu, healthy smoothies, fruits, personalized reusable water bottles, notepads and pens made from recycled material, and ultimately, driving their latest electric cars.
There have been fears that BMW is going to lose the very characteristics that make them BMW by going electric. Sheer driving pleasure, the ultimate driving machine, and joy of driving; are phrases that have long been associated with BMW. Some of them may not be directly used, but they still embody every BMW that you drive or will get to drive. That is why the possibility of a BMW van is next to not going to happen. And that is what designers, engineers, and finance executives got to agree on with the BMW i5. It had to be an electric car that a 5 Series fan would enjoy.
The new G60 is the 8th generation of the 5 Series revealed in May this year, and the first of its kind to have an all-electric powertrain. The unique approach for the model is that it was developed to function with different powertrains – ICE with 48V MHEV, PHEV, and BEV.
The G60 5 Series is a forward evolution from the outgoing G30 that has been in the market since 2017. It is longer, wider, taller both outside and inside. The overall design looks bolder albeit with cleaner lines, flushed door handles like its ‘i’ stablemates, and the ‘Hofmeister kink’ has been capped off with a rather nice cover with a 5 in either aluminum or black.
The more prominent front grille features an “iconic glow” for electric versions; it is flanked by rather well-designed headlamps. The rear is fitted with rather clean nicely designed tail lamps, making it a fitting successor to its predecessor.
We start with the i5 eDrive40 – a far from “base” trim as the cars were fitted with M Sport Package which gives it aero, active suspension, 21-inch Individual wheels, and badging on the fenders. The Tanzanite Blue shade we got was paired with aluminum window trims which seemed to have a good contrast with the dark shade, while the Brooklyn Grey ones were fitted with black colored trims.
On the driver’s seat, it is very BMW but in a more modern setting as you are greeted by large screens. A 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, and 14.9-inch infotainment system powered by BMW’s latest OS 8.5 which features more apps and supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also debuted with the latest system is in-car gaming where you can play games with your mobile phone as your controller, all while the vehicle is stationary of course.
It also gets the “Interaction Bar” that first debuted in the 7 Series; the touch panel allows for quick adjustments for the seats and climate control, among others.
In terms of performance, the eDrive40 is powered by a single motor that powers the rear wheels with up to 340 PS and 400 Nm in sport mode with boost on and can go from 0-100 km/h in 6 seconds, while top speed is limited to 193 km/h.
While performance snobs may say that they want the M60 xDrive version, the eDrive40 is more than enough for its target market, and with this being an EV, acceleration is nearly instant and it is quite potent.
Handling is where the car really excels as EV technology seems to be the great equalizer of all with nearly all EVs driving and feeling the same. The optional suspension package definitely made the car more distinguishable and fun to drive, especially on the nice flowy countryside roads we took the car to. Comfort was not compromised at all; despite the engaging dynamism and 21-inchers we were rolling with.
What’s more interesting is the rather ample trunk space for the i5, it gets up to 490 liters of space, which is 30 liters less than the ICE and PHEV versions with 520 liters. Engineers seem to have done their homework right on this.
We then get to the more powerful i5 M60 xDrive which gets a dual-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain rated at up to 601 PS and 820 Nm of torque in sport with boost on. Just for reference, the G30 M5’s 4.4-liter turbo V8 is rated at 601 PS and 750 Nm. The M60 can do 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds with a top speed of 230 km/h. Those numbers feel quite potent and it was very evident that it felt downright illegal to mash the throttle on public roads.
Being an M-badged car, it features an exclusive gloss black grille with performance vents, smoked headlights, M Sport side mirrors, a rear diffuser, and a very subtle spoiler on the trunk. You can really tell that it means business up front along with the red center marker peeking from the steering wheel.
Inside, the M bits come in the form of sports seats, red and blue contrast stitching for the upholstery, and a steering wheel with the red center marker.
Both cars are powered by an 81.2 kWh battery that can be charged with up to 22 kW at home on an AC charger for over 4 hours to full, while fast DC charging of up to 205 kW can take it from 10% to 80% in 30 minutes.
The BMW i5 eDrive40 has been confirmed for Philippine release next year, while the M60 xDrive is still being considered. We do hope they are spec’d with the M Sport Package as well.
If you notice, this article is still conventional for us. We talk about the look, the platform, the features, so on and so forth. That's because -truth be told- we're still adjusting to how EV will be in our market, on our roads, and in our garages. The shift is big, but by sticking to its core principles, the 5 Series has a worthy BEV in the i5.
There will be many detractors of EVs. There will be many that resist change, going so far as to point out that electric vehicles are still charged by unclean energy sources. And there is truth to that. But at the end of the day, the power plant will be running 24/7, and electricity that isn't captured to be stored and used is just excess, especially at night. When you drive an EV, you're maximizing it. And as the mix of renewable energy starts to improve, it's bound to get better.
To be truly sustainable, a rethink is needed. And with our drive of the i5, it's clear that BMW wants to show us the way forward.