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Car Review

BMW i5 Touring review

£69,890 - £111,740
810
Published: 24 May 2024
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The first exec-sized electric wagon on the scene, and good enough the others need not bother… unless they can undercut BMW’s hefty prices

Good stuff

Uncanny smoothness, extremely comfy, no real rivals for the time being

Bad stuff

A £100k 5 Series wagon? Really? Bits of the interior are irritatingly fiddly, too

Overview

What is it?

An all-electric BMW 5 Series Touring, and the first all-electric executive-sized estate to the market. How did Avant kings Audi let that happen? While the four-ringed team have been asleep at the wheel, BMW has snuck in and delivered a choice of rear- or dual-motor electric luxe with a 570-litre boot and more technology (and bonkers ambient lighting) than you could learn to operate in a lifetime.

True, this isn’t the only electric estate car on sale. There’s the MG 5, which is slow, small and cheap, and the Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo, which is fast, small inside, and not cheap. But if you want zero-local-emissions transport for the dog, to the tip (don’t take your dog to the tip, it’s cruel and also illegal) then the i5 Touring is currently in a class of one.

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What’s the spec?

It’s a big car: over five metres in length with just shy of three metres between the axles.

In the UK – where we like a lifestylish estate and BMW sells a healthy number of wagons versus saloons – there are two powertrain specs to choose between. The entry-level version (and TopGear’s choice, for reasons we’ll return to) is the ‘eDrive40’ which sends 335bhp to the rear wheels only. It starts at £69,945, but for an M Sport-kitted version with the toys, that quickly becomes £80,000. Range is claimed at over 340 miles.

Is the other a fast M version?

Sort of. Not quite a full-fat M Division car, but an M-badge festooned M Performance model: the elegantly titled i5 M60 xDrive. The last part of the badge means four-wheel drive, because a front motor joins forces with the rearward unit. Together they generate as near as makes no difference 600bhp, and north of 600lb ft of torque. Okay, that’s an overboost figure, but your stomach gives out before the G-force does. Every time. Even outside of the Sport Boost mode, you’ve got well over 500bhp at your beck and call.

Bonkers numbers in a dignified, unassuming family estate car. And enough to see you from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds.

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And you’re thinking ‘oof, yes please’, that’s the one for me’. Right up until you learn it costs £100,000. Without options. Like lashings of carbon. And before long, a likely-to-be-electrified BMW M5 Touring will be arriving for that sort of money.

What are the big tech innovations for the i5 Touring?

It’ll change lanes automatically on the motorway, executing your overtakes for you. We’ve tried it, and it’s an impressively intuitive system, but requires serious brain rewiring to teach yourself to trust the computers and not simply DIY.

BMW’s also proud of its ‘eRoute’ technology which automatically updates the sat-nav with local charging stations, how fast they’re operating, how busy they are and which are best suited for your journey. Terribly clever, but if you use Google Maps or Waze to navigate, like most of the free world, you’re unlikely to notice.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

The BMW i5 Touring is the best car in its class... you’ll also be aware it’s pretty much the only car in its class

For now, the BMW i5 Touring is the best car in its class. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll also be aware it’s pretty much the only car in its class. But when Audi does finally get around to delivering an e-tron Avant, and Mercedes splices its talents in big-booted expresses with EQ-electrification, they’ll have to go some to be more rounded – more complete – than the i5. It’s refined, comfortable, easy to drive, swift, and almost too well-equipped for its own good.

If it has a downfall, it’s that a big estate car is at heart one of the most practical machines it’s possible to own, and yet with a real-world range of around 300 miles there will be more than a few of the wagon faithful unconvinced that an i5 could take the place of their 700-mile-per-tank 520d. BMW will incidentally sell you a plug-in hybrid-equipped 530e version to assuage your anxiety.

The Rivals

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