Electrification has come to the BMW 5-series. The eighth generation of the sedan that fits in between the 3-series and the 7-series will now offer a full electric version, the 2024 BMW i5, in addition to gas-fired models.
The plan follows the one introduced by the 4-series and i4 and of the latest 7-series and i7, whereby a single platform underpins both gas and battery-electric versions.
More conservatively styled than the new 7-series, the 5 is larger in all major dimensions. Overall length is up by 3.9 inches, it’s 1.3 inches wider and 1.4 inches taller, and the wheelbase is stretched by 0.8 inch to 117.9 inches. The dash-to-axle proportion (the distance from the base of the windshield to the front tire) is long, and the hood spans far forward. BMW’s big-nostril grille makes an appearance, but it isn’t as massive as the one found on the 7-series, nor does it have the bucktooth grin of the 4-series and M3/M4.
A Choice of Five 5s
This fall, U.S. customers will be able to select from five different 5-series configurations, all of which will have automatic transmissions. The least expensive will be the 530i, which will get BMW’s familiar 255-hp 2.0-liter turbo four and the option of all-wheel drive. BMW claims a 60-mph time of 5.9 seconds for the rear-drive version and 5.8 for the all-wheel-drive version. Those four-cylinder models open at $58,895, with the 530i xDrive starting at $61,195 when they go on sale in October. At the top of the gas-powered range is the six-cylinder 540i xDrive. Power from the turbocharged 3.0-liter six is up to 375 horsepower, from 335, and torque is up to 384 pound-feet for the engine and 398 pound-feet when the 48-volt mild-hybrid system contributes. According to BMW, it’ll accelerate to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, but although it’s the quickest of the gas-engine 5s, it’ll be the last to arrive as it goes on sale in November of this year.
Two Electric 5s
Customers interested in a battery-powered 5-series will have two to choose from, neither of which will have a frunk under the long hood. Following the nomenclature introduced by the i4 and i7, the electric 5 will be called the i5. At the bottom of the EV lineup is the i5 eDrive40, a rear-drive setup with a rear motor with 335 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque (a Sport Boost function dials up the torque to 317 pound-feet).
With its 84.3-kWh battery, EPA range for the estimated 4100-pound sedan is expected to flirt with 300 miles. BMW tells us that 60 mph will arrive in 5.7 seconds. Pricing starts at $67,795, putting it above the $55,000 threshold for Inflation Reduction Act tax credits. An optional M Sport package blacks out metal trim, adds different wheels, dresses up the front and rear end with a more aggressive look, and brings a retuned suspension.
The Most Powerful 5-Series Is an i5
The most powerful 5-series (until the next M5 arrives) will be the i5 M60 xDrive, a two-motor, 590-hp electric version that ostensibly replaces the previous-gen V-8–powered M550i. Prices start at $85,095.
Other numbers of note are its claimed 3.7-second time to 60 mph and a C/D-estimated 5300-pound curb weight. BMW also promises that the power won’t taper off as speeds increase right up to its 143-mph top speed with summer tires or 130-mph top speed on winter rubber.
To get all the horses ready for an acceleration run requires pulling the Boost paddle behind the steering wheel. Hold it for 0.8 second and you get max acceleration. To make sure there’s more drama besides the acceleration, the car plays its Sport soundtrack.
Powered by the same 84.3 kWh battery as the i5 eDrive40, the M60 comes in with an estimated 256-mile range. For the range-anxious, the i5 EVs have a MAX Range mode that promises to optimize the remaining charge in the battery by limiting top speed to 56 mph and shutting down the climate control, the heated and cooled seats, and even the heated steering wheel. The 400-volt architecture allows for up to 205 kW DC fast charging and 11 kW charging on a Level 2 hookup.
To entertain you while you’re waiting to charge, the i5 comes with AirConsole video games that use your smartphone as a controller and the 12.3-inch center display. For those who aren’t into gaming, the car has a built-in YouTube app which is perfect for watching Car and Driver’s YouTube account—please like and subscribe.
BMW calls its driver-assist option Driving Assistant Professional. This system, which still requires the driver to hold the steering wheel as it “drives” the 5-series, comes with Active Lane Change Assistant, a marketer’s way of saying that it will change lanes to move around slower traffic, something that GM’s SuperCruise system also does. BMW’s system, however, only makes a suggestion and won’t act until the driver’s eye looks at the corresponding mirror.
The new platform features a double-wishbone front suspension on coil springs and multilink rear suspension on air springs. Four-wheel steering is optional, as are active anti-roll bars and adaptive dampers. We won’t have a chance to drive the new 5-series for another few months (sales begin in late September), but we’ll be the first to let you know how BMW has tuned the hardware and just what the new 5 drives like then.
Tony Quiroga is an 18-year-veteran Car and Driver editor, writer, and car reviewer and the 19th editor-in-chief for the magazine since its founding in 1955. He has subscribed to Car and Driver since age six. “Growing up, I read every issue of Car and Driver cover to cover, sometimes three or more times. It’s the place I wanted to work since I could read,” Quiroga says. He moved from Automobile Magazine to an associate editor position at Car and Driver in 2004. Over the years, he has held nearly every editorial position in print and digital, edited several special issues, and also helped produce C/D’s early YouTube efforts. He is also the longest-tenured test driver for Lightning Lap, having lapped Virginia International Raceway’s Grand Course more than 2000 times over 12 years.