By Paul Titchmarsh, Operations Director at JCT600 VLS
With the race for electrification becoming faster all the time, the target of 2030 is reached, new products are coming along at a furious rate, creating some notable firsts and the BMW i5 has a few of its own.
Two stand-out areas for me are; how much the range is split between Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) and full Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV), noting there is a fully electric i5 in the range. Secondly, and possibly more notably, is that the ICE end of the range (in the UK at least), is represented solely by a 520i petrol, no diesel (at all) in a large size saloon (with a Touring estate to follow).
BMW will be filling this gap with two Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV); a 530e sDrive with 295hp and an all-electric range of up to 62 miles and a 550e xDrive with 482hp and an AER of up to 56 miles. Effectively, BMW has replaced arguably their most important model line worldwide, with a range of mid to large-size vehicles that include BEVs rather than following the noticeable SUV trend.
This in itself is interesting as it should show a more efficient product than the large selection of BEV SUVs, by being more aerodynamic than a bigger/taller vehicle, extending the range and therefore reducing charging anxiety. Now, I wouldn’t get too carried away at this point as it is still a large executive car with list prices that start at approximately 50k for the ICE derivatives and 73k for the BEV models. In part, the price point is explained by BMW limiting the range, currently, to only M Sport derivatives, which have always been the big seller in the UK – so, best to give people what they want right?
Meanwhile, looking at the car itself, I think it is fair to say BMW has come up with a very good-looking automobile. Sharp lines and certainly a generation beyond the current car and the 3 Series. Also, not a straight derivative (design-wise) of the 7 Series. Maybe not such a bad thing…
However, a number of the features that were introduced in the 7 series have already found themselves making their way into the new i5. The Interaction Bar makes for one such example, it makes the dash strip in front of the passenger touch sensitive to a number of pre-defined events; like opening the glovebox and changing the ventilation settings. Another, that isn’t maybe quite how it sounds, is Crafted Clarity, a polished crystal glass finish on the gear selector, iDrive controller and other knobs.
To compete with Tesla for entertainment whilst parked/charging, BMW have partnered with AirConsole, allowing you to play games on the central screen whilst using a smartphone as a controller (“the kids don’t know they are born” etc)
Merino Leather is still available on the options list, notable as many BEV variants are now moving away from leather content – but fear not, BMW have made Veganza standard (an artificial leather, not a Nissan from the early 80s).
And finally, back to the electric side of things, the new BMW 5 series sports an 81kWh (useable) battery and it can have a peak charge speed of 205kW. As we all become more familiar with EVs, we all realise how fast things can charge is key. With a decent battery for range, you don’t want to feel like it has taken an age to charge it up, so a 205kW charge speed is pretty good going (for context, only a couple of other manufacturers are able to offer this) but, in reality, anything around 150kW is probably quick enough. Another nice perk for the new 5 series is that BMW is offering a free year subscription to Ionity’s network – their 350kW chargers will only cost 29p/kWh, the public average is around 70p.
So bring it on everyone else. An executive saloon with over 320 miles of range and a very efficient body style, looking sharp with some interesting innovations, we should be excited for this to cascade into the lower ranges.