2024 BMW i5 Review

2024 BMW i5 - An evolution of the 5-Series that impresses on all accounts.


For the first time ever (since 1972), the iconic BMW 5 Series is available fully electric. The 2024 model year marks the 8th generation of the 5 Series and introduces a refreshed exterior, updated interior technology, and new powertrains. As a kid growing up in the 80s, I recall the BMWs of that generation as aspirational. The 5 Series was always elegant and sporty and was even made in diecast 1/64 scale Matchbox and Hot Wheels versions. By spring of 2023, there were over 10 million 5 Series models produced.  Fast forward to the constantly changing auto industry and BMW has introduced the i5, an all-electric version of the 5 Series that is every bit elegant, refined, and engaging to drive. Additional plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid variation of the 5-Series are also underway for 2024.

There are two variants of the i5 that include the rear-wheel-drive eDrive40 that generates a maximum power output of 335 hp and maximum torque of 295 lb-ft, or 317 lb-ft when the Sport Boost or Launch Control function is activated. The second is the all-wheel drive  BMW i5 M60 xDrive which  sits at the top of the 5 Series range and combines a 593 hp electric drivetrain with hallmark M performance characteristics and specific design features.

Prices start at $66,800 + $995 destination and handling  for the i5 eDrive40 and climb to $84,100 + $995 destination and handling for the i5 M60 xDrive.  Competition includes models such as the Audi e-tron, Genesis Electrified G80, Mercedes-Benz EQS, Tesla Model S, and Volv0 S70 Recharge.

I spent time in an i5 eDrive40 that checked in at $76,695 and here's what stood out.

Exterior Style (+)
The exterior design reinterprets the sporty elegance of a BMW 5 Series in the brand's current design language. The new i5 has athletic proportions and larger exterior dimensions compared to the previous generation 5 Series. The new model has grown in length by 3.4 inches to 199.2, in width by 1.3 inches to 74.8 and in height by 1.4 inches to 59.6. The wheelbase increased by 0.8 inches to 117.9 and improves seating comfort, especially in the rear. The front  is a modern interpretation of the brand's signature twin headlights and BMW kidney grille despite it being electric. The LED headlights show the traditional four-lamp face i and two nearly vertical LED elements positioned towards the outside function as daytime running lights and turn signals.
The BMW kidney grille, stylistically inspired by the so-called "Sharknose'' of early 5 Series generations and projecting far forward, functions as the visual center at the front. All the lines of the front apron and the long hood, which connects directly to the kidney grille frame, run towards the front fascia. With its wide surround and optional illuminated contour line, the BMW kidney grille gives the front view a distinctively sporty appeal without being overdone (as many have suggested in the Series)
The side view  boasts a sporty silhouette that highlights its stretched proportions, long hood, and almost upright BMW kidney grille. The sporty character of the three-box design is also expressed in the steeply sloping A-pillar, the gently flowing roof line towards the rear, and the gradually sloping trunk line. Black side skirts provide a graphic contrast to the rest of the bodywork, visually slimming the vehicle in profile. The door handles are flush with the surrounding surfaces. The Hofmeister kink is elegantly highlighted by a graphic element with the number '5' embossed on the side window surround.
Around back you'll find expressively designed lighting. The flat rear lights interpret the brand's hallmark L-shaped lights with modern appeal. Inside, four narrow LED strips aligned horizontally handle lighting functions. They are divided by an L-shaped chrome strip. Overall, it looks more modern, athletic, and most importantly... like an evolved version of the 5 Series.

19-inch light alloy wheels are standard for the i5 models and optional 20" and 21" light alloy wheels are available with either mixed performance or all-season non-run flat tires. The wheel designs are sporty and utilize a mix of finishes for added style.

M Models / Packages (+)
Individual design features give the M60 xDrive a striking look, which emphasize its dynamic performance. A front apron with black surfaces at its center and large air intakes, a grille featuring horizontal slats and M logo, side skirts and exterior mirror caps finished in high-gloss black, 19-inch M light alloy wheels and a rear apron with a pronounced diffuser insert signal the M Performance model's sporty character.
The M Sport Package is available for all other model variants.  It also includes M specific design features, most notably the large air intake at the front, flared side skirts and window trim in high-gloss black and a rear apron with diffuser insert, as well as 19-inch M light alloy wheels.
The available M Sport Professional package  adds the illuminated BMW kidney grille framed in high-gloss black, M Shadowline headlights, a discreet rear spoiler, and Extended Shadowline trim. Specifying the M Sport Professional package also allows the option of red calipers for the M Sport brakes.

Battery Power (+)
The high-voltage battery used in each i5 model is also derived from the latest fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology. It is composed of four modules with 72 battery cells each and three modules with twelve cells each. The high-voltage battery has a low profile that can be fitted in the underbody to save space. The high-voltage battery provides a net usable energy content of 81.2 kWh. Combined with the high efficiency of their electric motors, this provides ranges suitable for long journeys for both model variants of the i5. When fitted with standard 19-inch wheels, the i5 eDrive40 is estimated to travel up to 295 miles on a single charge, while the range of the high performance i5 M60 xDrive is estimated at 256 miles. If range is of concern, The i5's range can be further moderated by activating a new drive system function, MAX RANGE. In this mode, drive power and top speed are carefully restricted and comfort functions scaled back, conserving battery power.
The Combined Charging Unit enables Level 2 AC charging up to 11 kW. When connected to a DC fast charger, the charging rate of 205 kW means the battery can be topped up from 10% to 80% in about 30 minutes. First-time owners of the new BMW i5 receive two years of complimentary 30-minute charging sessions at Electrify America DC fast-charging locations. Anticipatory thermal management ensures that the temperature of the high-voltage battery is optimally controlled in advance of a stop at a fast-charging station.

Performance (+)
Even as a heavy mid-size sedan, the i5 is quick in both forms. I spent time in the eDrive40 with 335 horsepower and maximum torque of 295 lb-ft, or 317 lb-ft when the Sport Boost or Launch Control function is activated. That boost button is easily accessible on the steering wheel and gives you around 10 seconds of added power and a quick jolt. The sprint from 0-60 mph can be done in around 5.7 seconds. The maximum speed is electronically limited to 120 mph. The i5 is controlled with well-balanced steering that can hug a tight turn well. It's grounded to the pavement when pushed and provides a cushy, smooth ride.  All models are also equipped with the latest version of electromechanical power steering (EPS) as standard. The standard sport steering includes a new, more direct, steering angle-dependent steering ratio. Its range of functions also includes Servtronic speed-related power assistance as well as comfort or sport-oriented settings available in My Modes.

While still utilizing a stiffer BMW suspension geared toward performance, I found the i5's to be softer than other BMW models with a bigger focus on comfort that makes this a near perfect blend of athleticism and comfort. It's also very quiet on as road noise is kept outside.

The BMW i5 M60 xDrive sits at the top of the 5 Series range and combines a 593 hp electric drivetrain. The electric motor acting on the rear wheels generates a maximum power output of 335 hp, while the motor at the front axle produces 257 hp. The total system torque generated by both motors is 549 lb-ft, or 605 lb-ft when M Sport Boost or the M Launch Control function is  activated.
This power enables the new BMW i5 M60 to accelerate from 0-60 mph in an explosive 3.7 seconds, and the power is delivered continuously as speeds increase. The maximum speed of the BMW i5 M60 xDrive is electronically limited 143 mph when equipped with performance tires.

Driver Assist Technology (+)
When driving, the latest version of adaptive recuperation helps to conserve the power reserves and recover electrical energy during throttle lift-off and braking phases. As an alternative to this adaptive recuperation, the driver can select high, medium, or low braking energy recovery for all traffic situations in the BMW iDrive menu. Low recuperation enables a "coast" function.

It also comes with Highway Assistant which allows attentive hands-free driving at up to 85 MPH with a world first active lane change with eye activation.  The vehicle suggests a lane change, and the driver can confirm the lane change simply by looking in the corresponding outside rearview mirror. The Active Lane Change performs the necessary steering movements automatically while monitoring  traffic conditions and speed limits. It is no longer necessary to confirm the lane change with the turn signal.

The BMW i5 is also equipped with rear-axle air suspension as standard. The self-levelling suspension ensures optimum vehicle height for comfortable and safe driving, even when heavily loaded. The air supply to the suspension is regulated individually for each wheel and can thus also compensate for uneven loading.

The standard Automatic Park Assistant helps the driver in selecting and using parking spaces that are either parallel or perpendicular to the driving lane. In addition to the steering, it also takes over accelerating and braking as well as the gear shifts necessary when maneuvering, both when parking and when backing out. The Backup Assistant, which is also standard, enables automated reversing in narrow and complex environments such as multi-story parking structures or driveways.

Interior (+)
Hopping inside, one of the first things you'll notice is the new fully digital BMW Curved Display, which reinterprets the brand's typical orientation towards the driver. It has a modern and sporty vibe to its style. BMW integrates a mix of materials well with high quality and craftsmanship.  Among the changes is the 'BMW Interaction Bar' with ambient lighting in the instrument panel and door area (standard on i5 models, optional on 530i and 530i xDrive). The striking backlit functional unit with crystalline surface structure extends below the trim strip across the entire width of the instrument panel into the door panels and includes touch-sensitive control panels for controlling ventilation and air conditioning and for activating the hazard warning lights. The BMW Interaction Bar's lighting design follows the colors of the selected My Modes or can be customized. The i5 also gets a new gear selector in  the center console control panel and  significantly expanded level of standard equipment compared to the predecessor  5-Series models.

Adding to the interior ambiance is  an available  panoramic fixed glass roof that can be ordered in place of the standard slide-and-tilt moonroof. While I personally prefer the opening moonroof, the panoramic fixed glass connects almost the entire roof surface, extending uninterrupted from just behind the windscreen to almost the rear window. With a length of 33 inches and a width of 32 inches, the viewing area is almost 90 percent larger than that of the standard tilt-and-slide moonroof. This creates a generously light-flooded atmosphere in the interior. An interior sunshade can provide shading of the interior.

Technology (+)
With its frameless glass surface the BMW curved display consists of a 12.3-inch Information display behind the steering wheel and a 14.9-inch infotainment control display. The infotainment system is  based on the latest BMW Operating System 8.5 and offers a new graphic display with a clear start screen and QuickSelect access for simple and intuitive touch operation.
The control system is designed to be operated primarily by means of the touch screen, but also includes steering wheel buttons, BMW iDrive Controller on the center console, voice commands, and gesture control. I'ma  big fan of the gesture controls and think they work well for increasing/decreasing audio volume, changing audio tracks, pausing music, and more. The advances in digitalization significantly reduce the number of buttons, knobs and controls used in the cockpit such as the climate controls which is unfortunate, but a volume button still exists.
I found the BMW operating system to be intuitive and easy to navigate. Wireless integration with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay was seamless and easy to set up. Navigating the various controls, drive modes, and vehicle setting is logical with crisp graphics.
In addition, BMW Operating System 8.5 offers a wider range of digital content for information and entertainment, faster update cycles for functions, improved information on charging points for electric vehicles and optimized access to many specific online services. A broad range of video streaming is possible on the control display, as is an innovative form of in-car gaming presented for the first time.

Interior Seats (+)
The i5 accommodates five adult passengers comfortably with expansive leg, head, and shoulder room up front. The seats are comfortable, supportive, and easily adjustable for drivers and passengers of all sizes. I appreciated the positioning of the head rests as they offered good support and comfort. Sport seats are standard equipment while multi-contour seats are standard on i5 M60 xDrive and optional on other models.  Rear seats also offer an impressive amount of passenger space all around. The backrests of the outer rear seats extend far into the door areas, especially in the shoulder area, increasing seating comfort in back.

A fully leather-free interior is available with leather-like, perforated Veganza used on the seats as well as the dashboard and door panels and steering wheel. Extended Merino leather upholstery in several bicolor variants remains an option. The M Sport Package includes exclusive seat surfaces in Veganza/Alcantara finish with unique perforation in the shoulder area and translucent accents in red and blue. M pedals, an M driver's footrest, and M-specific displays on the Information Display add to the sporty environment.

Cargo Capacity:
The BMW i5 offers 17.3 cubic feet of storage, while the 530i and 530i xDrive each provide 18.4 cubic feet. The folding rear seat backrest is split 40:20:40. The three elements can be folded down individually or together to create additional space for long pieces of cargo.  It has better than the average amount of space for a luxury electric car and comes with a standard power trunk lid.

Final Statement
The i5 is an impressive evolution of the 5-Series. I appreciate that the styling of the i5 still looks much like any other 5-Series thanks to the creative integration of the traditional kidney bean grille, maintaining proportions, and its athletic stance. Range and power are among the top of the class with even more power available in the M variant. The ride is smooth, athletic, and comfortable all in one package. BMW was once known for a cockpit filled with buttons and has now modernized the interior as well with an aesthetically pleasing interior, curved display, technology, and comfortable seats. I drove one of its primary competitors, the Genesis Electrified G80, not long ago calling it a near perfect luxury electric sedan...BMW is refusing to back down and has responded with an equally impressive i5!

First Impression Summary:
Test Model:
2024 BMW i5 eDrive40
Exterior Color: Cape York Green Metallic
Interior Color: Veganza Perforated Qlt Smoke
Options: Paint ($650), Premium Package ($2,850), M Sport Package ($3,000), Sky Lounge Roof ($600)
Price: $76,695 (with destination)

Pros: Athletic handling, engaging power, sleek interior, intuitive & advanced technology, reasonable starting price
Cons: Less range than some competitors, touch screen climate controls

Jim OBrill

Jim is Director of Marketing for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and Chicago Auto Show and a co-host of Drive Chicago Radio on WLS 890 AM Chicago. His passion for cars started young and he’s often referred to as the ‘car-guy’ among family and friends. As a former auto detailer, he has an eye for identifying solid used cars and tags along on many car buying adventures. Early in his career he worked at several car dealerships in various areas of the business. As a co-host on Drive Chicago and member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, Jim has had opportunities to attend track school and drive vehicles on multiple circuits such as Road America and Gingerman Raceway. With a background in photography, taking pictures of vehicles has always been a hobby.

Jim also enjoys the trails and taking trucks like his 4Runner off road. He has a special appreciation for older cars and can often be found spending free time at cruise nights or home washing one his four vehicles. Jim resides in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three kids. Follow Jim on Instagram at @jpcars22 for new vehicle content or @forgotten_survivors.312 for shots of older cars still on the streets of Chicagoland.