New BMW i5: all-electric 5 Series gives clues to new look

6 months ago - 13 November 2021, autocar
New BMW i5: all-electric 5 Series gives clues to new look
Dramatically restyled exec saloon will be offered with ICE, plug-in hybrid and electric powertrains

The current BMW 5 Series is scheduled to be replaced in 2024, seven years after its launch, and our spy photographers have caught the all-electric version testing on public roads. 

Following the imminent arrival of the iX flagship SUV and i4 saloon, BMW will launch a further seven electric cars by 2025, with several core ICE models gaining EV derivatives in the same vein as the X3-based iX3. Prior to these images of the new 'i5', we've seen battery-powered prototypes of the next-generation 7 Series, the current 3 Series and the next-generation X1 crossover. 

BMW has yet to specifically detail how it will vary its EV powertrain offering, but the current 5 Series uses the same CLAR architecture that underpins the ICE and EV versions of the new 4 Series, suggesting that its larger sibling will offer a similar powertrain line-up if it retains the platform. 

That means the standard version of the i5 could potentially be offered with both rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive powertrains, with output ranging from 335bhp in the i5 eDrive40 up to 536bhp in the performance-oriented i5 M50 xDrive (if it follows the model-naming strategy of the i4).

The i4 uses an 80.7kWh battery pack, chargeable at speeds of up to 210kW, for a maximum official range of between 255 and 367 miles.

The plug-in hybrid versions of the new 5 Series will likely retain their current 530e and 545e badging, with electrified four-cylinder and six-cylinder petrol engines respectively.

A range of ICE-only variants is likely to continue on sale, at least initially, although it remains to be seen whether BMW will reintroduce the 523bhp V8-powered M550i range-topper, and the full-fat M5 will almost certainly adopt some form of electrification. 

Our first clear look at the new 5 Series reveals how radically it will be visually distinguished from the current car. Notably, the controversial 'vertical' grilles from the 4 Series and the new M3 are absent, with the new 5 Series instead adopting what looks like a more familiar horizontal arrangement, which will be blanked-off for the EV.

The front end itself is a much sharper arrangement, with the grilles angled backwards to give the bonnet a small degree of overhang, while the rear end looks to move away from the conventional three-box saloon shape for a fastback-style silhouette - although variations in the shape of these prototypes suggest that the EV and ICE models will be slightly different shapes.

A full unveiling of the new 5 Series is expected some time in 2023, ahead of a market launch in 2024.