2024 BMW I5 EDrive40 Review: First Drive

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

Love It

Leave It

Smooth drive

Feels big

Smart tech upgrades

Too few physical controls

Good pricing

No AWD non-M (yet)

Of all the legacy automakers adopting electic models, BMW's approach might be the best.

Take this, the new, eighth-generation 5 Series. Like the 7 Series debut a year ago, the Neue Fünf shows up with both gasoline- and battery-powered models; the latter dubbed i5. But whereas the 7 arrived in North America with a slant towards dino juice, the 5 is coming at us with a 50:50 split of models. Whats more, buyers wanting higher performance will have to go for the all-electric models. It's a gradual shift, and the electron-munching models still look like the regular car.

The model you see here is the 2024 BMW i5 eDrive40, which should be the electric volume seller in America. After over 50 years and 10 million examples, the venerable 5 Series is going electric. After a day wheeling it up, down, and across the gorgeous roads outside of Lisbon, Portugal, I'm convinced the 5er experience translates to the electric future.

What's new?

As is often the case with a new generation of car, BMW has made the latest 5 Series larger than the one it replaces. But not by much: at 199.2 inches (5,060 millimeters) from end to end, it's less than an Apple Magic Mouse-length of additional Fiver. The wheelbase is up by about an inch, too, as is width.

But it doesn't look bigger. The middleweight Bimmer's styling downplays the growth, and nods to 5s of the past, too. Look at this model (internal code: G60) from the side and you'll get some E60 vibes from the low nose and the way the headlights wrap up the fenders. Stroll towards the back and that chopped tail only reinforces first impressions. The angled trunk lid is a subtle nod to the original E12-era 5 Series too; the one that kicked off the model and, a year into its life, moved production to Plant Dingolfing, where BMW will also produce the current model.

Photo credit: BMW

I’m not sold on the front-end styling: there’s too much X1 to my eyes, which doesn’t exactly scream “premium” in the same way the old fascia did. The gloss black trim lining the vehicle is a visual trick to pull weight out of the bottom: this is a platform that has to accept both ICE and EV setups, after all.

In Canada and the US, the 2024 5 Series lineup will begin with the four-cylinder 530i, with xDrive optional in the US and standard in Canada. BMW’s iconic inline-six will continue on in the 540i xDrive, which arrives a few months later. This eDrive40 is the entry point into the electron-munching branch of the family. At the top of the pile, at least for now, is the i5 M60, which you can read about here. Canada will skip both 40-branded models, including the one I’m driving here, though a company spokesperson hinted that won’t be the case for long. A dual-motor i5 to hit that all-important AWD demographic? I wouldn’t bet against it.

A drivetrain made for luxury

Photo credit: BMW

I’ve sung the praises of BMW’s inline-six many times before. It sets the bar: gloriously smooth and refined, and packing a serious punch when asked. A single electric motor, producing 335 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, is really going to fill that gap?

Mostly, yes. Even the sharpest of BMW’s gas-powered cars can’t compete with the instant-access power of the i5 eDrive40’s motor. Nothing short of a Rolls-Royce can match the quietness, either. (Well, except the Spectre.) As a luxury sedan, the i5 makes a ton of sense, smoothly swishing its way from villa to vista out here. Want more drama? Drop into Sport mode and have the IconicSounds whir up a storm.

Photo credit: BMW

The styling might suggest a smaller car, but the 5er drives big. Okay, some of these village roads definitely weren’t made with a 74.8-inches-wide (1,900 mm) sedan in mind. But the i5’s steering is also light and mute, especially for the first few degrees off-center. At least it’s consistent. The (optional adaptive) suspension has an easy job with Portugal’s gloriously smooth tarmac, so a proper verdict has to wait. This first impression showcased a well-damped, comfortable ride as at home on the highway as it is along winding coastal roads, even on the upsized 21-inch wheels. The brakes are competent, with a progressive pedal feel and a smooth transition between regenerative and friction braking.

There is an 81.2-kWh battery pack under the floor. BMW quotes 295 miles of expected range in the US; we saw an indicated 18.1 kWh/100 km on a very adventurous drive route, which translates to around 280 miles. A new Max Range function can combat range anxiety, unlocking up to 25-percent more range by limiting the top speed to 56 mph (90 km/h) and KO’ing the climate system.

Refined cabin

Photo credit: BMW

BMW made multiple references to the 5er being the Goldilocks of the sedan lineup, blending the best attributes of the sportier 3 and statelier 7. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the spacious cabin. It’s giving more of the latter, what with the glass light bar that stretches across the dashboard. There’s a more youthful flair to the dashboard design itself however, with a distinct two-tier layout that subtly blends into the door panels. I dig the subtle texture to the lower metallic section; I don’t love the touch controls for the vents.

The center console sees a slight rejig, grouping most controls together and ditching the 7’s square cupholders for more useful round ones. There’s also a dual wireless charger setup ahead. Material quality is uniformly excellent, even on these early cars.

Space is also a new Fiver strength, with oodles of leg- and headroom in both rows. New for this generation, the standard seating material is now vegan-friendly.

Updated tech is wicked smart

Photo credit: BMW

There’s a whole heap of new tech in the 5 Series, a lot of which I’ll be expanding on in a separate, dedicated story. All models include the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 14.9-inch touchscreen combo perched atop the dashboard. The former does a lot of the same stuff as other modern BMWs: lots of easy adjustability, and useful features like augmented native navigation, too. The latter sees a key upgrade to iDrive 8.5.

This half-step introduces a handful of usability tweaks like a quick-access menu with a left tap of the scroll wheel. While simple in theory, it’s a big improvement, allowing drivers to access things like the trip efficiency without having to dive into sub-sub-menus. One annoyance: switching drive modes keeps that screen up, instead of defaulting back to say, the navigation, after a few seconds. I’m blaming that for why I got lost, yep.

Other cool tech arriving on the eighth-gen 5er includes BMW’s take on a hands-free highway driving assist. Like others on the market, this uses pre-mapped highways, and provides a useful icon and audio cue when enabled. The driver can tweak it without cancellation too, but the big news is the hands-free lane changes. Put simply: look at the side mirror, and the car will change lanes. Sounds freaky, but in operation, it works well: a chime lets you know a change is possible, and only once you look—for about a half-second, not a glance—and the way is safe, does the car move over.

There is also a gaming feature, with a handful of Wish.com versions of popular titles for you and up to six of your friends to join in on via your mobiles. It works only while parked (of course), but if I were charging… wouldn’t I rather not want to add to the battery’s load?

Dollars and sense

Photo credit: BMW

The 2024 5 Series lineup will begin with the $58,895 (including destination) 530i. Adding xDrive is another $2,300, and it’s here where the Canadian lineup begins ($72,980 CAD). The 540i xDrive will list for $65,895.

Going electric means a starting price of $67,795 for this eDrive40 model. That’s substantially less coin than the comparative Mercedes EQE and Genesis Electrified G80. The i5 M60 xDrive will be the quickest 5er until the next (hybridized) M5 touches down: it from $85,095.

Final thoughts: 2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 First Drive Review

Photo credit: BMW

BMW had a tough job to do here, but the electrification of its mid-sized sedan has gone off with minimal hitches. The 2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 is a satisfyingly smooth luxury sedan, one that just so happens to be electrified. If that sounds familiar, it should: it’s what’s made both the i5 and i7 two of our favorite EVs out there. The i5 looks to continue that trend.

Discuss this story on our BMW i5 forum.

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Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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