I’ve always been a fan of BMW’s 5 Series sedan. Sure, the 3 Series gets all the glory (especially the M3), and the X family of SUVs pays most of BMW’s bills. But across seven generations and 50 years, the 5 Series has never failed to deliver a package that’s upscale, classy and sporting in equal measure, whether it’s a humble four-cylinder variant or a thundering M5.

That’s why I’m delighted to say that in taking the 5 Series fully electric for the first time, BMW hasn’t compromised anything about what made people love this executive sedan for so long. The BMW i5, as it’s called when it runs on batteries, is as high-tech, plush and astonishingly quick as you’d expect. And if you’re looking for a better large electric luxury sedan these days, its list of worthy competitors is going to be pretty small.

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

Just one question: Where the hell did my air vents go? 

(Full Disclosure: BMW loaned me an i5 M60 xDrive for a week with a nearly full tank of electrons.) 

The 5 Goes Electric

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

BMW has emerged as this kind of surprise champion in the EV world lately, so much so that outlets like the New York Times are even noticing. The reviews have been positive, the specs have been stellar and the German automaker’s overall percentage of total EV sales is something to envy right now.

The i5 helps explain why. Like most other members of BMW’s current lineup, this is the battery-powered version of the current 5 Series, which also comes in gas-powered and soon plug-in hybrid form. BMW’s current powertrain strategy is “Give people whatever they want,” and it seems to be working for them.

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

Minus the i badges and lack of exhaust pipes, it looks like any other new 5 Series sedan. I won’t sit here and lie to you and say it’s my favorite 5 Series design ever—that was probably the E34 of the 1990s—but it’s handsome enough, if overly busy, just as most of BMW’s current lineup is.

The i5 rides on the same CLAR modular platform as the rest of the current 5 Series family, so it’s not on a dedicated EV architecture. Usually, that means compromises to things like range, efficiency and overall tech, but you’d be hard-pressed to find them here; the i5 bucks that trend to a degree that we’re excited to see what BMW can do when it actually makes an EV from the ground up.

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

My tester was the top-trim i5 M60, which starts at a far-from-cheap $84,100 but gives you 590 horsepower, a zero to 60 mph time in the mid-three-second range and between 240 and 256 miles of juice on a full charge. That could be better—which we’ll get to in a bit—but other options include the i5 eDrive 40 with as much as 295 miles of range or its all-wheel-drive variant that will go for up to 266 miles. BMW’s dual-motor xDrive AWD is the sole configuration offered on the i5 M60. 

2024 BMW i5 M60: Driving Impressions 

The original idea of a BMW “sport sedan” was to make something athletic enough to have fun with when you want, while being practical enough to haul your stuff around with some luxurified dignity. I’m happy to say the 5 Series makes the jump to electric power quite well. 

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

The M60 isn’t an electric M5, but it’s better for it, as many M cars can be so hard-edged they can make everyday driving rather irritating. In M60 form, the i5 has superbly balanced handling without the punishing ride quality that can dog the M5, all with almost no road noise, either. 

But don’t think for a second that it’s slow for lacking an M badge. Pull the big “Boost” paddle on the left side of the steering wheel, and get ready for 10 seconds of unholy acceleration as its full power is unleashed. It’s hard to drive “efficiently” in a car this quick; its speed feels on par with what gas supercars did just a few years ago. Let’s just say I spent less time thinking about range and more time worrying about losing my license here. Rear-wheel steering helps bolster its agility as well.  

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

BMW is taking an interesting approach to the usual “Drive Mode” options that feel ubiquitous on so many modern cars. As on other models, the i5 can switch between different “profiles,” some of which are pretty out there, like Expressive, Relax and Digital Art modes. That’s in addition to the usual Sport and Efficient modes you’d expect.

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review
2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review
2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review
2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review
2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

Not all of them change the character of the car as much as you’d think; many are focused on interior lighting, graphics or making a limo-like experience, all features Chinese EV buyers especially love. They’re neat to show off, especially at night, but I can’t say I found them all to be particularly useful; I mainly switched between Sport and Efficient when my range got low, as I suspect most drivers will do. 

2024 BMW i5 M60 Range And Battery Specs

The BMW i5 eDrive 40 and this M60 xDrive both use the same battery: an 84.4-kWh unit that’s rated at 81.2 kWh usable. The M60’s max-rated 256-mile range (blame the bigger 21-inch wheels for some of that) won’t make it a distance king like the Tesla Model S or Lucid Air, but our testing has repeatedly demonstrated better-than-stated real-world ranges from BMW’s EVs.

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

Having said that, this i5’s cold-weather range wasn’t exactly mind-blowing. On a 35-degree morning after charging to 100% all night on my home ChargePoint Level 2 plug, I saw a rating of just 185 miles. Earlier, 99% was 230 miles when it was 45 degrees out and 124 miles at 60% when it was 37 degrees. Coming off a New York winter, I don’t even think those temperatures are especially that cold; I do think BMW is more aggressive in low-balling drivers when it’s cooler out to avoid any mishaps, but such low ratings could be seen as a disappointment to new EV drivers. 

By the end of my colder (and rainier) New York spring weather test, I averaged around 2.6 miles per kWh, though I have seen much higher numbers on BMW forums; my own heavy foot on the accelerator pedal surely didn’t help here.

2024 BMW i5 M60 Charging Experience

My home ChargePoint system took the car from 24% to 100% in a little under eight hours at a steady speed of 7 kW, adding about 210 miles overnight. That was as user-friendly as you want home charging to be.

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

Really, so was public fast charging. The i5 is rated for DC charging at up to 205 kW. I plugged mine into a 175 kW EVConnect charger at 37% battery and 83 miles of range. Charging jumped to 156 kW pretty much immediately, dropped to 130 kW after reaching 40% and eventually tapered off to 86 kW at 62%. I added 20 miles of range in five minutes, before calling it at 70% (with 155 miles of range) after just 17 minutes. 

The 205 kW DC speed trumps even what the i7 and iX can do, so I can’t say I was disappointed here. It also offers Plug and Charge with Electrify America after you’ve configured your My BMW App, although I wish the car itself displayed the charging history too; I couldn’t find that outside of the app.

2024 BMW i5 M60 Interior, UX And Tech

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

Like a good 5 Series should, the i5 never fails to be comfortable, high-tech and driver-centric, although it does make some UX decisions for the sake of the electric button-averse future that not every driver will love. 

As I alluded to up top, there are no conventional air vents here, but rather these square-shaped toggles that almost remind me of the analog sticks on a PlayStation controller. You use those, and a haptic touch slider, to control the direction and flow of your air. This setup mostly works, if I’m being honest, but I struggled to see how it was “better” than a conventional one—or if it’s just more tech for tech’s sake. 

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review
2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review
2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

As on the iX, the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 14.9-inch multimedia touchscreen are fantastic to look at. The current iDrive is quick and responsive system, although its main menu is a kind of mess of various functions. As on the Mercedes EQ cars, it does a lot, but getting it to do what you want can be tricky.

In theory that should be helped by voice controls, something BMW is making a big bet on in the coming years. But right now, the verdict on that is “good, but not great.” Navigation was less natural than you’d want, and while it will control some physical functions like seat heating, it can’t do things like close the windows individually or precondition the battery on command. 

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

I bring this up only to say I like voice control functions if they work well; it’s a better alternative to taking your eyes off the road. But other voice systems from Mercedes (still the class leader there) and Volvo (which runs the excellent Google Assistant) have the edge over BMW, for now at least. There’s still the trusty iDrive control knob to keep you from doing everything on a screen, and I’m glad it’s there. Wireless Apple CarPlay is supported too (same with Android Auto), but it doesn’t play well with the native voice assistant. 

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

My tester included BMW’s Driving Assistance Professional package as a $2,000 option, but I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to use the hands-off Highway Assistant. I never took this i5 on any of the system’s supported highways. We’ll save that for a later standalone test. 

Outside of the tech, the back seat was spacious and the 17.3 cubic-foot trunk squeezed in more luggage and gear than I expected from such a sedan. 

Pricing And Verdict 

With options, my i5 M60 xDrive (modern BMWs all have names like math equations) came in at $93,895. Personally, I’d be perfectly fine sacrificing some of the speed here for extra range and getting the xDrive 40 or eDrive 40 models. 

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

The last time I tested a similarly top-spec, non-M 5 Series, I drove an M550i to Montreal and back. That car had a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, a plush interior and some outstanding tech. It was a wonderful and memorable road trip machine (albeit a thirsty one.)

I’m pleased to say the i5 M60 replicated that experience almost directly, except more powerfully, with better technology and this time, zero tailpipe emissions. Progress.

BMW really didn’t lose anything while transitioning to battery power here—something that wasn’t even always the case when it dumped naturally aspirated engines for turbocharged ones. 

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

And aside from the driving dynamics being exactly what you’d expect, the i5 is just a good EV, period. The max charging speed is extremely respectable for a 400-volt EV, Plug and Charge is a welcome addition and the overall experience was drama-free.

Given the Model S’ aging icon status, I’d hand the EV Luxury Sports Sedan crown over to the i5 M60, but for the fact that the similarly priced Lucid Air outclasses it in many respects. I’d have to drive both back to back to confirm this, but I can say not everyone’s ready to make the jump to an EV startup, and the BMW certainly surpasses its perennial Mercedes rival in almost every single way.

Not every conventional car with a rabid fanbase is going to make the transition to a zero-emission future without losing the plot in the process. Thankfully, the i5 proves we don’t have to worry about the 5 Series. 

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive Review

Contact the author: patrick.george@insideevs.com

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