ROAD TEST: BMW i5 – old fashioned style and class with modern power

The BMW 5-Series has been a feature of the German manufacturer’s sales brochures since 1972, designed by automotive guru Paul Bracq the 5-series has seen numerous incarnations over its production life. You can still buy petrol and diesel 5-Series and there’s some new, greener power under the 5-Series bonnet now in the form of plug-in hybrid and all-electric versions.

In an age where hatchbacks, crossovers and SUVs dominate it’s rare to find a traditional saloon. While some may consider a saloon old fashioned many think a saloon looks classy and stylish. BMW’s i5 eschews the seemingly standard approach of making EVs somewhat quirky, or arguably downright odd, and has produced a near perfect fusion of old fashioned style and class with modern power.

A 105kw electric motor powers the rear wheels in true BMW tradition. Two i5 models are the e-Drive 40 MSport and MSport Pro plus the all-wheel-drive M60 XDrive, which is the more sporting of the trio. Despite this the MSport and MSport Pro are no pedestrians, with the benchmark 62 mph reached in 6 seconds. Exercise your right foot in swift style and the i5 heads for the horizon at a considerable pace and certainly made my passengers break into large smiles.

Going electric with the 5-Series means an i5 with prices starting from £74,105. My test MSport Pro has a decent standard equipment list but as ever getting carried away on options can be costly. On my test car to the extent of an additional £16,370 including a panoramic glass roof, superb Tanzanite blue metallic paint and a replacement for the already high quality standard Harmon Kardon sound system. This pushed the total price of the test car to a not inconsiderable £92,570.

Inside the i5 it feels special, as it should at the price, yet despite the subtle style it’s a head turner and during my time garnered much favourable comment. For me there’s far too few buttons and too much touchscreen action required. That said the touch technology works well and reacts quickly, it’s a nicely intuitive system.

On the road, addictive acceleration included, the i5 is a delight and a well-drawn combination of sports saloon and luxury cruiser. With a quoted maximum range of 357 miles, real world driving probably 300-310 miles, it’s a useable distance.

Let’s hope that the public charging network here in the UK improves so that you can take an i5 on road trips with confidence. For me though a plug-in hybrid version would be a better companion.

Words by Mark Slack

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