An entire decade after the launch of its first full production electric vehicle, the i3, BMW has finally revealed its full electric version of the 5 Series, its second most popular car globally.
Well actually, it’s two versions. The new BMW i5 eDrive40 will supposedly offer 361-mile range, while the sportier BMW i5 M60 xDrive 600-hp version will apparently launch from zero to 62 mph in 3.8 seconds, though the range drops to 320 miles.
Aesthetically, BMW isn’t going to mess too much with a popular design, but just like with the recent high-end i7, this eighth-generation vehicle has grown in length, width, and height. Unlike the i7, the i5 will not sport a fold-down TV, though. Backseat Netflix fans will be upset.
The i5 eDrive40 is rear-wheel drive, with the electric motor located directly in the rear axle, generating 340 hp and 400 newton-meters of torque. The zero-to-62 mph sprint is significantly lower than the M version, but at six seconds flat it should be plenty fast enough for most. Maximum speed is limited to 120 mph. BMW is claiming combined power consumption between 19.5 and 15.9 kilowatt-hours per 62 miles.
If 120 mph is somehow not enough for you, the all-wheel drive i5 M60 xDrive has motors on both the front and rear axles. The rear motor generates 340 hp, and the front 261 hp. The torque generated by both is 795 newton-meters but goes on to reach 820 when “boost” or launch control is activated. Max speed is limited, thank heavens, to 143 mph. Power consumption is a claimed 20.6 to 18.2 kilowatt-hours per 62 miles.
That almost unnecessary boost feature on both cars is operated by a shift paddle near the left steering wheel spoke. If the paddle is pulled for more than 0.8 seconds, maximum acceleration is triggered. The drive sound changes at the same time for those who like fake noise pumped into the cabin.
Brits Pay How Much More?
Next, a word on pricing. Normally such boring matters are left to the end of car reveal articles, but you might want to consider the following: The i5 eDrive40 will start from $66,800 in the US, but the UK price will start at £73,200. Yes, you read that right. After currency conversion, UK customers are being asked to pay £20,000 more than US punters for the same car.
It gets worse for the i5 M60 xDrive. That will retail at £96,840 in the UK, while in the US it will be $84,100, which means the Brits will pay nearly £29,000 more than the Americans for the same car. I asked BMW why there was such an enormous difference in price between the countries; all it would say was that “pricing varies by market.” But even factoring sales taxes and Brexit, the disparity seems stark. Bad luck for UK buyers.
Speaking of High Charging …
With that unpleasantness over, let’s turn to the battery itself. The i5 uses the same eDrive system seen on BMW’s iX and i7. It’s also built on the same architecture as the 7 Series. The 81.2-kWh flat pack is fitted in the underbody to save space. That pack can be charged with DC up to 205 kW. This means refilling the battery from 10 to 80 percent in around 30 minutes, if you find the right charger. Indeed, BMW says range can be increased by up to 97 miles in 10 minutes at a DC fast-charging station when starting with a low charge level of 10 percent.