BMW Deserves Mad Props for Making the i5 M60 a Spectacular EV

HOME GUIDES BMW Deserves Mad Props for Making the i5 M60 a Spectacular EV

Adam Allen Writer -

Words by: Adam Allen

Electric vehicles are so…not hot right now?

While it would appear that the red-hot demand we’ve seen previously has cooled considerably- at least for the time being- that doesn’t mean that EVs have failed to firmly cement themselves in the modern vehicle landscape, nor does it mean that they’re going anywhere anytime soon. Besides, automakers plan their products well in advance, so what we’re seeing now has been in the pipeline for years.

It's interesting to note how each manufacturer approaches the changing market and customer demand. Toyota has dipped a toe into the water and concluded that plug-in hybrids are the way to go for the foreseeable future. Ford bet heavily on EVs and is now struggling with dealer lots holding an uncomfortably large inventory of Mach E and F-150 Lightnings. Mercedes Benz have bet big on EVs and have even spun off a subbrand called EQ- and to differentiate those offerings from their gasoline fed counterparts, they have designed them to all look like varying sizes of throat lozenges. Then there’s BMW, who has taken a different approach. They seem to have nailed down a formula that should pay dividends of success with their adoption of EVs across their lineup with a simple set of rules: Design car. Allow said car to accept fully electric drivetrains alongside internal combustion engines. Rinse and repeat. We’ve seen them do this successfully with the i7- and now it’s the newly minted 5 series turn, riding high on the wave of a brand-new generation. Ladies and gentlemen, please meet the BMW i5.

Shop BMW Models on
Find Your Next Ride

The Highs

We should first pat BMW on the back for not indulging into some of their new design language whims which, if you’ve looked at the BMW M2 or XM recently you’ll utter a silent thank the stylists for their restraint. The new 5’er looks handsome and stately and aside from a whiff of frumpiness in the rear it easily finds itself amongst the conversations of BMW’s best-looking products. It also has one of the finest interiors throughout the portfolio as well. No matter where you look or where you touch, the materials are imbued with a sense of quality and the caliber of assembly is unimpeachable. It makes for a convincing yet scaled down facsimile of the i7 flagship, a car whose interior felt positively sumptuous the first time we climbed aboard. The i5 outdoes its larger stablemate where performance is concerned. Our M60 trimmed tester came packing a wallop of horsepower and torque which gave the i5 a serious turn of speed. It’s so quick that we wonder how the M5 model waiting in the wings if going to top it- but trust us, it will. Our tester featured a very compelling option which BMW calls Adaptive M Suspension Pro with Active Roll Stabilization. This bit of sophisticated kit performs two important tasks. The first is giving the i5 a duality in the ride and handling department. The suspension can go from delicately soft to firm in the blink of an eye which offers an almost infinite bandwidth for any road going situations drivers will find themselves in. It also makes for an almost uncanny sense of balance, as the system virtually eliminates squat, dive and body roll. In singing the i5’s praises, we should add a verse that compliments the speed at which the i5 charges at a maximum of 205 kW which doesn’t make it the quickest EV to suck up the juice but certainly makes the most of its capabilities. It’ll mean that stops to charge shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes, a good amount of time to rest, grab coffee and hit the restrooms.

The Lows

We do not count ourselves among the legions of Teslarati, but one thing we grudgingly admit is that Elon’s company has everyone licked in terms of range (at least for now.) And so it was that we looked down at the i5’s display and saw a little over 410 kilometers of range was at the ready of our nearly charged to capacity battery level on pickup. There was a chill in the air, and firing up the heated seats and steering wheel while asking the climate control to bring the interior’s temperature to a toasty warmth, that range fell quite a bit. There were drives on dark mornings where we’d even forgo the heat so as to not squander  any unnecessary electrons, but we noted once again that we never face such an issue with internal combustion cars.  The trunk is less commodious than its gas powered counterpart on account of all the EV gubbins back there, so maybe that extra gear you were thinking of taking along on a trip ends up staying home. As our next complaint started to coalesce over our week spent in the i5 genuinely surprised us. For years we’ve devoted effusive praise towards BMW’s iDrive infotainment system and never miss an opportunity to lambaste its earliest iterations. The user interface, graphics and ease of control have always put it among the very best in the business. And yet this newest generation left us feeling cold. For one thing, the control wheel on the console and the haptic pads that orbit it are far too sensitive and lack the tactility we’ve come to expect from BMW. Too often a command gets executed you didn’t want due to an errant brush of a finger.  We also noted that the menu structures themselves seem less intuitive- this was the first time that we can remember where we had to consult the owner’s manual to learn about how to perform certain tasks. One thing that endures is that iDrive remains beautifully rendered, a feast for the eyes in high-resolution. Last gripe: How come Europe gets the Touring (station wagon) variant and we don’t?

Shop BMW Models on
Find Your Next Ride

The Verdict

Our fellow motoring scribes have panned BMW on occasion for losing their focus on making cars that failed to lived up to the The Ultimate Driving Machine ethos the company traded on in the nineties and early ought’s. BMW’s iconic marketing slogan. And yet there is still brilliance afoot in Munich, reminding us that when they put their minds to it the Bimmer family is still capable pf building very intriguing cars. We usually don’t use the word ‘intriguing’ when talking about EVs, but the i5 is a delight to drive, battery pack notwithstanding. You can feel the thoroughbred DNA BMW is famous for in the chassis when you show it some corners, and the steering shows remarkable precision, if a little aloof in terms of feedback. And should you plan to pull the Boost paddle and give the accelerator a hearty squeeze while in Sport mode, you’ll smile inwardly at the massive thrust this car can generate. As the next corner comes into view, you step on a brake pedal that cleanly sheds all that kinetic energy without suffering from the wooden feeling you notice with brakes tasked with regeneration and stopping together.

BMW is an outlier amongst its German competitors with its EV strategy. Mercedes and Audi are trying hard- maybe a little too hard- to give their EV offerings a sense on uniqueness over their ICE cousins. BMW simply lifts the body of a gas powers car, bins the engine while installing battery packs and electric motors underneath and voila! You have a BMW i-branded car. So far, the i4, i7 and not the i5 have proven themselves to be excellent specimens of the burgeoning EV ecosystem, and in a surprising turn of events, feel more BMW-esque than many of their current non-electrified lineup.

No matter which side of the EV fence you sit on, nobody can deny that BMW is on to something with its i subbrand of EVs. They do all the EV stuff well and are simultaneously rewarding to drive in any situation. We therefore wholeheartedly conclude that BMW is highly deserving of the mad props we eluded to earlier.

2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive - Specifications

  • Price as tested: $113,600
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
  • Powertrain Layout: Front and Rear Electric Motors/All-Wheel Drive
  • Power Source: FRONT- permanent-magnet synchronous AC
  • Power Source: REAR- permanent-magnet synchronous AC
  • Battery Capacity/Type: 84.3-kWh lithium-ion
  • Total Horsepower: 590 @ 0 rpm
  • Total Torque (lb-ft.): 586 @ 0 rpm
  • Transmission: 1-speed direct drive
  • Curb weight: 2,380 kg (5,247 lbs)
  • Observed Energy Economy: 16.2kWh/100km