It isn’t a BMW M5, but it may as bloody well be.
That’s what comes to mind when you drive the 2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive, the new range-topping fully electric version of the 5 Series Sedan range.
It’s the most powerful and most expensive G60 5er on the market right now. It has all the M attributes you’d expect, and twin motors with a whopping 442kW of power and 820Nm of torque on tap: this is a properly luxury sports sedan – and it comes with a price-tag to match.
If you buy the most expensive version of any car, you want to make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth.
And look, without having driven the other versions of the new 5 Series as yet, it’s hard for me to say if this car lives up to that or not.
2024 BMW 5 Series pricing:
- 2024 BMW 520i: $114,900
- 2024 BMW i5 eDrive40: $155,900
- 2024 BMW i5 M60 xDrive: $215,900
Yep, that means you’re forking out $60,000 more to get this range-topping, all-wheel drive, sporty-looking and sportier-driving version of the 5 Series – see further down for what you get in addition to the extra grunt.
It also means you could be cross-shopping it against the likes of the Audi RS e-tron GT ($248,200), or even the related Porsche Taycan ($164,400 to $363,800). And of course there is a rival from Benz – the Mercedes-AMG EQE 53 4Matic+, which is priced very close to this car at $214,574 before on-roads.
One more option? The Genesis Electrified G80. It’s more of a traditional luxury sedan with an electric powertrain than an outright performance-oriented sports saloon, but with a twin-motor AWD layout, a 0-100km/h time of 4.9 seconds, and a price tag some $70,000 cheaper than this Bimmer ($145,675), it could be a really good alternative to consider.
You won’t be left wanting when it comes to the cabin treatment in the new 5 Series. There are luscious finishes, sporty elements and terrific trims that make this cabin stand out against some of its ‘blingy’ rivals.
Indeed, it’s more sedate than what you’d find in a like-priced AMG, and a bit more techy feeling than the Porsche and Audi thanks to the broad, sweeping and curved twin-screen display.
The screens – a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and a 14.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system with the latest BMW Operating System 8.5 – make quite an impression. In fact it can be a bit overwhelming at first glance, as there are more apps on the menu than I have on my smartphone (seriously!). However, you do get used to the way the screen display is laid out.
While screen taps aren’t as good as physical buttons, I appreciate that there’s a permanent climate control bar at the bottom of the display to adjust temperatures, and that you have a few quick-hit button choices including the actual climate control settings screen, phone, navigation, Apple CarPlay (or Android Auto) and a home button, too.
There is also the option to use voice commands to adjust things, or the rotary dial (iDrive) controller down between the seats, which also has a couple of hot keys to jump to the most-used menus.
There are heaps and heaps of menus on the screen to muck around with, and plenty accessible using a BMW ID, like YouTube and games. My favourite party trick with the interior and the screen; though, is the Drive Mode system. This changes the ambient lighting through the cabin when you adjust the mode.
Personal, Sport, Efficient, Expressive, Relax and Digital Art profiles are available, the latter of which even has an audio file that you can play to listen to digital artist Cao Fei’s mindset when designing the piece on the screen. Wanky? Maybe. A talking point? You bet.
There are some unconventional elements to the controls for the ventilation, including newly designed vent adjusters that take a little bit of learning, but once you’ve got it set, it’s simple to adjust the flow.
Just be aware that, at times, those vents can cause a foggy effect on the smaller touch panel below the screen, which is (ironically) where your demister controls and fan-speed controllers are.
The glass-finish dials and triggers between the seats are cool, but can be a bit too sparkly in direct light, and there are still swathes of piano black – which means you’ll need to get on a first-name basis with your local car-cleaning team. Alternatively, you’ll need to be fastidious in keeping it tidy yourself.
The M elements in the cockpit include a few M badges, the colour-coded stripe-work on the seatbelts, and carbon-fibre finishes across the dash (also seen on the outside of the car on the mirrors and lip spoiler). It all looks a heap more cohesive when you select the Sport drive mode and the vehicle lighting mirrors the reds and blues you’ve come to expect of the BMW M division.
The seats are very comfortable, supportive, and offer good adjustability, and there’s also memory settings and an electrically adjustable steering column, too.
Storage comprises a covered console between the seats, cup holders and a wireless phone charger (with additional space for another phone), bottle holders in the doors and a small glove box.
Rear seat accommodation is good, but not limousine-like if you’re my size or larger.
At 182cm/6’0”, and sitting behind my own driving position, I had limited toe-room but a few centimetres of space in front of my knees; however, three across would be a squish thanks to a large transmission tunnel.
Thankfully head and shoulder space is good, and if you’re likely to have only two in the back, then they’ll be pretty happy with the amenities, which include directional air-vents in the centre console and in the B-pillars, two more zones of climate control, four USB-C ports (two in the console and two in the seat backs), bottle holders in the doors, and a centre armrest with cup-holders.
Parents, note: there are ISOFIX points in the window seats and top-tethers for all three positions.
Boot space is decent at 490 litres, but the shape of the boot – it’s narrow and deep, rather than wide – means that you’ll have to brush up on your Tetris skills before you tackle a family week-long road trip.
There’s a fold-down ski port if you need it for that trip, with boot-mounted rear-seat releases for quick and simple folding. You should also consider that this car comes with a tyre repair kit rather than a space-saver spare wheel, and while there’s an underfloor storage compartment for your cables there’s no frunk storage section under the bonnet.
The BMW i5 M60 is a horsepower hero, but the horse happens to be one of those ones you plug in.
This take on the theme has a twin-motor, all-wheel drive powertrain, with total system power output of 442kW and 820Nm of torque. It has a single-speed transmission. BMW claims it can do 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds. It feels precisely that quick from the seat of the pants.
The motors are fed by an 84kWh lithium-ion (NMC) battery pack under the body of the vehicle, with a stated WLTP range of 516km, and efficiency of 18.0kWh per 100km. This is exceptional for a vehicle that is more than 5.0 metres long and has a kerb weight of 2305kg.
In real-world driving, including a few real-world enthusiastic throttle thumps, I saw a return of 21.3kWh/100km, which I think is more than acceptable given the potential of this powertrain.
Some new-gen BMW products have been pretty divisive in terms of the drive experience, but I have to say the brand has categorically nailed the brief for the new range-topping electric 5 Series.
It’s a car that effortlessly blends mind-blowing speed with athletic agility; a secure and planted feel with a luxurious and even lovable drive experience… Can you tell I was pretty smitten with this car?
You don’t need to smash the throttle all the time to get the most enjoyment out of this electric sedan, because it has more than just the “I can accelerate really fast” trick up its sleeve. It’s a multifaceted performance sedan.
It is still heaps of fun to flatten the go-pedal though, because it belts you back into your seat and hurls you at the horizon with blistering pace – and the drama of it is made all the more majestic when you have the BMW Iconic Sounds system active.
In that setting you get a strange, Hans Zimmer-composed symphonic soundtrack piped through the speakers, and while it sounds nothing like a V8 M5, it’s probably the noise an alien (or toddler) would make if trying to mimic the exhaust sound of the older 4.4L monster.
It has lovely steering weighting and accuracy, and is more lively in its handling than a car of this weight and size really has a right to be. However, having driven a number of rear-wheel drive electric cars against AWD ones in the past year, you might get more driving enjoyment (if not as much outright speed) in the mid-spec eDrive40e.
But it’s still seriously impressive, and while it is a different kind of experience to what you’d have if you chose a Merc, Audi or Porsche for similar money, it’s still very convincing. Thankfully, BMW’s four-wheel steering system (Integral Active Steering), which can help make the vehicle more agile feeling at higher speeds and more manoeuvrable at lower speeds, doesn’t dilute the drive.
The adaptive suspension really helps iron out the bumps in the most comfortable way in the more sedate and comfort-focused drive modes, but in Sport it really does have an assertive firmness, and you do feel more of the surface below the tyres being transmitted into the cabin.
Those tyres, by the way, are exceptional – it’s a staggered set of Pirelli P Zero rubber – 245/40/20 at the front and broader 275/35/20 at the back – for extra grip when you mash the magic pedal.
The all-wheel drive system is excellent in offering the traction you need – and you’ll especially need it if you hit the left-paddle (there’s only one paddle on this wheel), which is the Boost controller.
That allows you the maximum potential of the powertrain for 10 seconds, and you can really tell the difference between it and simply accelerating in Sport mode – it’s manic.
And fear not when it comes to braking, as the stoppers employed here are definitely up to the task. The front brakes are four-piston ventilated discs, and at the back there are single-piston calipers.
Of course there’s also regenerative braking built in, so you can run the car in B mode and it will drive in a single-pedal mode, which just adds to the case for this being a consummate all-rounder for those looking for a sporty, plush sedan that can also deal with the drudgery of the day-to-day.
My biggest concern with the i5 M60 is the fact that it can easily (and often) bottom out when you’re reversing out of driveways. It happened several times on different occasions, and with only me on board, too.
I know this version has adaptive and height-adjustable suspension, but it just makes you feel like a dork to scrape or bottom out when you’re leaving a friend’s house. When it happens you’ll get plenty of grimaces from onlookers, too.
I also found the (admittedly configurable) head-up display graphics to be a bit overbearing in terms of how much space they take up when you’re looking ahead at the road.
In fact, I found them somewhat distracting, with so much movement displayed where you’re trying to concentrate. But as stated, you can adjust the size and scope of those, so it’s certainly not a deal-breaker – in fact, there are no deal-breakers here.
BMW 520i highlights:
- 19-inch M alloy wheels
- Adaptive LED headlights
- Remote start
- Panoramic glass roof
- Power boot-lid
- BMW Iconic Glow illuminated grille
- M Sport package
- Comfort Access (keyless entry and start)
- 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
- 14.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- BMW Operating System 8.5
- Satellite navigation
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Head-up display
- Gesture control
- Alcantara, Veganza leatherette upholstery
- Interior camera
- Ambient lighting
- Carbon-fibre interior trim
- Dual-zone climate control
- Heated front sports seats
- Wireless phone charger
- 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system
- Driving Assistant Professional
- Parking Assistant Professional
- Semi-autonomous parking assist
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Surround-view cameras
- Travel & Comfort System
BMW i5 eDrive40 adds:
- 20-inch M alloy wheels
- Adaptive Suspension Professional
- Adaptive suspension
- Integral Active Steering
- 22kW onboard AC charger
- Mode 2, Mode 3 charge cables
- BMW IconicSounds Electric
- 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system
- BMW Individual Merino leather upholstery
- 5yr Chargefox subscription
- Metallic paint
BMW i5 M60 xDrive adds:
- 21-inch M alloy wheels
- M rear spoiler
- 4-zone climate control
- Ventilated front seats
- BMW CraftedClarity glass trim
- Rocker switches
- iDrive controller
- Start/stop button
- Adaptive M Suspension Professional
- Integral Active Steering
- Adaptive suspension
The BMW 5 Series range has been awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating based on 2023 Euro NCAP testing
It managed 89 per cent for Adult Occupant Protection, 87 per cent for Child Occupant Protection, 86 per cent for Vulnerable Road User and 81 per cent for Safety Assist.
Standard safety features include:
- Autonomous emergency braking
- Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Junction assist
- AEB reverse
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Front, rear cross-traffic alert
- Driving Assistant Professional
- Lane-keep assist
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Parking Assistant Professional
- Semi-autonomous parking assist
- Reversing assistant
- Front, rear parking sensors
- Surround-view cameras incl. 3D view
- Tyre pressure monitoring
There’s an abundance of airbags fitted too, including dual front, front side, front centre, rear side, and curtain inflators.
BMW Australia offers a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty for the 5 Series, while the battery pack is covered by an eight-year/160,000km plan.
Buyers will have the choice to add a prepaid service package with their i5 M60 xDrive, which is a six-year/unlimited kilometre coverage plan, and costs $2900.
That might seem a little steep given other brands like Genesis and Audi offer free maintenance for several years, but BMW also throws in a subscription to Chargefox’s fast-charge network across Australia, and it spans five years from the date of delivery.
So, if you do a lot of longer drives, that could be a great sweetener for you – provided you can find a Chargefox spot that’s not out of service, and doesn’t have long wait times. The option of providing a wall connector instead of the free charging would also have been worthwhile.
This is the epitome of modern BMW motoring.
It is technologically advanced, sumptuously appointed, delightful to live with and fun to drive, all while also being a cleaner choice environmentally.
It might seem like a lot of money for a 5 Series, but this is essentially an EV version of the M5, and to that end it makes a very strong case.
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