BMW 5 Series and i5 go on sale, cost from £51k

New BMW 5 Series is on sale now alongside all-electric i5 version

  • No diesel engines in new BMW 5 Series range…
  • …But all-electric BMW i5 joins the line-up
  • On sale now from £51,000

The new BMW 5 Series and its fully-electric counterpart, the BMW i5, are now on sale in the UK. In a complete shake-up of the range, there are now no diesel models available, as the German car maker focuses instead on plug-in hybrid and electric models that better suit company car drivers.

Initially the BMW 5 Series will be offered with mild hybrid power – a tiny electric motor helps to boost a normal petrol engine – but plug-in hybrid versions with a large battery and electric motors able to drive the car on their own will join the range in November. Touring estate versions will be available from 2024 and we expect a high-performance M5 variant to appear next year as well.

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The all-electric i5 will be offered in both body styles. While the EV estate segment is currently quite sparse, consisting of the MG5 EV and Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo, the BMW i5 Touring will have its own niche until it’s joined by future rivals such as the Audi e-tron A6 Avant and Volkswagen ID.7 estate.

The new 5 Series range starts with the £51,000 520i sDrive, a mild-hybrid model with 205bhp and 45.6mpg fuel economy. Then there’s the £59,455 BMW 530e, which has a plug-in hybrid set-up to boost power to 293bhp and with electric driving capability. It has a 19.4kWh battery, allowing around 60 miles of driving in electric mode.

The 550e xDrive is the most powerful version, with a larger 3.0-litre engine and four-wheel drive. It has 482bhp and can go from 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds. The BMW i5 electric car will be another option for performance fans, as the £97,745 i5 M60 xDrive version has 593bhp and gets to 62mph in 3.8 seconds. Even the economy-focused i5 eDrive40, which starts at £74,105, has 335bhp. The i5 has a range of up to 356 miles in this form.

The new BMW 5 Series is heavier than before, but suspension changes help to improve its control on the road (read on below to find out more about what we thought of a pre-production model). 

The electric i5 saloon’s design won’t differ greatly from the combustion-engined 5 Series, with its trademark kidney grille being a much more subtle affair than that of the i4. It also has just two headlight clusters instead of the four units used on the BMW i7 luxury saloon – the i5 is a hugely important new model for the marque, so it clearly decided against polarising looks that could put off some buyers.

On either side of the i5’s blanked-off grille, there’s a set of slim adaptive LED headlights. The rear bumper features a new treatment where the black lower trim extends upwards at the rear corners, housing vertical red reflectors. To help with aerodynamics, the i5 will also get recessed door handles in a first for the 5 Series range.

The outgoing BMW 5 Series arrived back in 2017 and while a mid-life update in 2020 brought the now-five-year-old car in line with the competition, it was beginning to feel outdated in comparison to newer, electrified rivals. The new 5 Series will renew its rivalry with the recently revealed Mercedes E-Class, while the electric i5 will go head-to-head with the Mercedes EQE and Tesla Model S.

The new petrol and hybrid-only 5 Series – there will be no diesel in the UK this time around – will reflect recent changes made to the BMW X5 SUV, and doesn’t differ significantly from the electric version. Like the i5, the 5 Series gets a slimmer set of front and rear LED lights, featuring a new chevron-like signature, as well as a more angular version of BMW’s iconic kidney grille. This gets a subtly different appearance to the i5’s, and can feature illumination in the M Sport Pro trim.

New BMW 5 Series and i5 interior

On the inside, we can see some of BMW’s latest technology has trickled down from the range-topping 7 Series limousine. The 5 Series will get the brand’s iDrive OS8.5 infotainment setup which features a ‘Curved Panel’ display, comprising two screens and 5G mobile connectivity. 

There’s also a handful of other new features, including the multifunctional Interaction Bar trim on the dashboard. This is a thin control panel that spans the dashboard and flows into the front doors, enabling passengers to adjust the climate control and seat settings. The front cabin also has a more minimalist look, with a small toggle gear selector replacing a traditional shift lever to free up room on the centre console.

Even in the entry-level trim, the 5 Series will be vegan as standard, with new Vegenza upholstery for the seats and a vegan steering wheel material for the first time in a BMW. Merino leather will still be on the options list, however.

A new ‘Highway Assistant’ option will allow for hands-off driving and automatic lane changing, initiated by simply looking at either the left or right door mirror, following a dashboard prompt that there’s enough space free in the flow of traffic. 

BMW 5 Series and i5 performance and specs

The next iteration of the BMW 5 Series is likely to be the last to use an internal combustion engine; to get around increasing emissions regulations, BMW’s new executive car will utilise a variety of mild- and plug-in hybrid petrol engines, but in a bold move, no diesel versions will be sold in the UK.

Kicking off the range is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 48-volt mild hybrid hardware, badged 520i sDrive. This will send 205bhp to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, for a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds. This version returns 45.6mpg to 48.7mpg and emits 132g/km for a middling Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band. 

There’s also a 530e model that has 295bhp and emits just 17g/km of CO2, so it will be a good option for company car buyers. This version can drive for around 60 miles on electric power only, and can go from 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds. The top-spec 550e model also has low emissions (22g/km) but thanks to a 482bhp engine-and-motor combination it can hit 62mph in just 4.3 seconds.

Entry-level versions of the BMW i5 are called eDrive40, with a single 335bhp motor and rear-wheel drive for a maximum range of up to 356 miles from its 81kWh battery. It can be charged at up to 205kW for a 10-80% top-up in half an hour. Sitting above this is a dual-motor M60 xDrive model with all-wheel drive and 593bhp for 0-62mph acceleration in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 142mph. All this extra performance sees the M60’s range drop to a maximum of 316 miles using the same battery.

The next M5 is unlikely to use the current model’s muscular V8 engine. Instead, a six-cylinder plug-in hybrid setup will be used, offering even more power than before and an electric range of around 60 miles – similar to the 550e model but with more power and a focus on performance driving. Expect to see more on this version in 2024.

Trim levels and equipment

Thanks to its popularity in the UK, the M Sport trim now comes as standard for the 5 Series, featuring a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, sports seats, ambient lighting and climate control. A Harmon Kardon stereo, heated driver’s seat and wireless smartphone charging pad are also fitted.

M Sport Pro adds dark exterior trim, a better stereo, bigger alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and the aforementioned light-up grille. A Comfort Pack can also be added with features such as a powered boot, heated steering wheel and keyless entry, along with a Comfort Pack Plus that brings heated seats all-around (with ventilation up front) and four-zone climate control.

A Tech Pack and Tech Pack Plus add semi-autonomous parking, gesture control and an interior camera, along with driver aids to make life easier on the move. It will still be possible to pick individual extras from adaptive suspension to privacy glass and a Bowers & Wilkins stereo.

BMW i5 prototype review - Sean Carson

We're at the brand's test facility in the south of France to get a first taste of what the all-electric 5 Series is like – and to assess whether the Mercedes EQE, Tesla Model S and Genesis Electrified G80 will be faced with something serious to worry about once the i5 goes on sale in October.

The answer is a resounding “yes”. The BMW i5 delivers the kind of balance between comfort, sportiness and agility that every 5 Series throughout the ages has – only the ability of this car has been widened even further, its spectrum of operation pushed at each end to offer both more comfort, and more dynamism.

The 40 feels fast enough (expect a 0-62mph time of around six seconds). On the road the 'entry-level' rear-drive prototype's instant punch pushes it forward in superb refinement. The accelerator pedal response is programmed to deliver linear performance proportional with how much you push it. It's a simple and relaxing car to drive swiftly as a result.

The M60 is even punchier than the eDrive40, as you'd expect, with its xDrive system able to distribute the punch from its dual electric motors between the front and rear wheels to adjust its behaviour. However, the character of the two cars' drive systems is not that different. In the latter the numbers just hit you quicker.

It's the chassis that makes a bigger impression. All i5s will feature air suspension on the rear axle, while our eDrive40 test car was fitted with adaptive dampers and rear-axle steering. There's also new suspension control software, and combined the systems deliver superb ride comfort. 

In the softest setting the adaptive dampers deliver a lovely, flowing feel, with even bumpy, rippled surfaces contained well and not upsetting the body. Sport tightens things up a little, but even on 20-inch wheels the i5 never felt overly firm or crashy. The M60 we drove also added active anti-roll control to the list of chassis systems, helping boost stability in quicker corners.

From a more practical point of view, there's what feels like a class-leading level of legroom in the rear, while the space penalty for going electric with the i5 compared with its combustion-engined counterparts in the new 5 Series line-up is, we're told, “minimal”. However, BMW wouldn't divulge exactly how much luggage space the new car offers. For reference, the outgoing 5 Series serves up 530 litres in 520d form.

Looking for something to impress your workmates? Check out our list of the top 10 best company cars

Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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