BMW recently released the first official teaser of the upcoming all-electric i5, and now it has followed up with images of the sedan undergoing "the ultimate endurance test". The hardcore testing programme was conducted on ice, snow and rough roads in northern Sweden.
- BMW i5 expected to have over 550km range in top-spec trim
- Will be available in both rear- and four-wheel drive versions
- Regular 5 Series to come with hybrid petrol, diesel and PHEV powertrains
The highly anticipated EV version of the next-generation BMW 5 Series rivals the Mercedes-Benz EQE. A debut date still hasn't been confirmed for the i5 sedan – nor its ICE counterpart or the i5 Touring estate, which was also recently confirmed. But with this test programme dispatched and a 2023 launch confirmed, it's expected to be only a matter of months before the wraps come off.
BMW i5: exterior design
In terms of design, the new, eighth-generation 5 Series brings a sharper front-end design and a more rakish roofline than the current model. As for the i5, it will be marked out from the 5 Series in the usual BMW EV style, featuring a blanked-off front grille, bespoke wheel designs and a bespoke rear-end design.
BMW i5: platform and powertrain
The i5 will sit atop an evolved version of the modular Cluster Architecture (CLAR) used by all current BMW models except for the BMW 1 Series, X1, and 2 Series Gran Coupé. Compatible with ICE, mild-hybrid, plug-in hybrid and EV powertrains, as well as rear- and four-wheel-drive layouts, the CLAR underpins BMW’s strategy of portfolio diversification in the run-up to going all-electric.
The EV is highly likely to mirror the line-up of the new BMW i4, which means potentially a choice of rear- and four-wheel drive, with outputs ranging from 340hp in an entry-level i5 eDrive40 to 544hp in a twin-motor M50 xDrive model. The i4’s 80.7kWh battery pack is also likely to feature, providing a WLTP range of around 563km at the top end.
BMW 5 Series: ICE engines
The regular 5 Series is expected to adopt hybridised versions of the current 5 Series' turbo-only four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, as well as an expanded choice of plug-in hybrid powertrains centred on a 2.0-litre or 3.0-litre petrol engine.
Less certain is the survival of the 4.4-litre, V8-powered BMW M550i xDrive to occupy the gap between the 540i and top-rung BMW M5. This twin-turbo petrol engine dates back to the original X6, launched in 2008. This will make it 15 years old when the new 5 Series arrives, so it won't be a strong candidate for expensive modifications needed to make it comply with the latest emissions regulations.
One possibility for the M550i’s successor is an uprated version of the 545e PHEV’s four-wheel-drive powertrain, which comprises a 3.0-litre straight six engine and a 108hp gearbox-mounted electric motor for a combined 393hp and 572Nm. BMW has previously said CLAR-based PHEVs could accommodate electric motors with up to 204hp, which hints at the potential for a circa-500hp hybrid to sit beneath the M5.
Top-rung M5 to go hybrid
The M5 will also be adopting a plug-in hybrid powertrain for its next generation. The M5 PHEV will use a variation of the electrified set-up tipped to appear in the new BMW XM Label Red, which mates the M division’s ‘S63’ twin-turbo V8 with a 203hp electric motor for a combined output of up to 750hp.
In the M5, that would almost certainly prove a significant enough boost (around 136hp) to offset the weight penalty of a hybrid powertrain. It would also provide BMW with a contender to rival the new PHEV variant of the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé, which packs more than 800hp, hits 100kph from rest in less than 3.0 seconds and has a top speed of above 320kph.
i5’s role in electric transition
The i5 forms a major part of BMW's transition to a maker of electric cars. In the firm’s 2023 sales report, it said it hoped that EVs make up for 15 percent of its sales in 2023. With a choice of ICE, hybrid and EV powertrains with the new 5 Series, BMW aims to sell seven million plug-in hybrid and pure-electric vehicles by the end of 2030.
The 5 Series will be one of the last all-new BMWs launched before the company begins the "third phase" of its electric transition in 2025. This new era, termed Neue Klasse, will usher in new-generation EV powertrains with greater focus on supply-chain sustainability and also introduce an all-new software platform.