BMW deserves a tremendous amount of credit for giving buyers something that many of its peers and rivals no longer offer: a choice. Now in its eighth generation, the 5 Series gets a sharper-looking exterior design, a more spacious interior, and either gasoline or battery power.
“We wanted to create the most elegant BMW,” design boss Domagoj Dukec told me during a preview of the new 5 Series.
The only variant unveiled so far is the sedan. There’s a Touring-badged station wagon on the way, though we’re unlikely to see it turn a wheel on American pavement. Powertrain aside, the 5 Series and the electric i5 are essentially the same car; BMW decided not to give the EV a powertrain-specific design. Longer, wider, and taller than the outgoing model, the new 5 features big kidney grilles that are a little tilted as a nod to the early, shark nose-style 5 Series models, angular headlights, a sculpted bumper with several air intakes, and a bulged hood.
Painting the rocker panels black is an attempt at concealing the extra height that designers added to fit the i5’s battery pack. It’s a simple trick to reduce visual mass that’s also seen on numerous low-riding electric cars, and the 5 Series has to wear it as well. The sedan’s roof line slopes gently into a C-pillar with “5”-branded trim on the Hofmeister kink, and the back end is dominated by a pair of horizontal lights.
All told, the new 5 doesn’t look like its predecessor, and it’s not a carbon copy of the 3 or the 7. Adrian van Hooydonk, the head of design for the BMW Group (which includes Mini and Rolls-Royce), told me that his team went to great lengths to give the model its own identity. The look is relatively subtle, at least compared to cars like the XM, and Autoblog learned that’s because the 5 is aimed at a different audience.
“It’s not a reaction to people blaming us for the XM or the 7 Series. When I’m asked why the kidney grilles are so big, I always say that these particular models are for status-oriented customers. The 3 Series and 5 Series cars are for people who are looking for other things. They don’t want to show off. They want a car that expresses their achievements in a different way,” Dukec explained.
You’ll feel right at home in the new 5 Series if you’ve spent time in recent additions to the BMW range. From the driver’s seat, you face a free-standing curved display that consists of a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch touchscreen for the BMW Operating System 8.5 infotainment system. The air vents are nearly hidden in the dashboard, which creates a clean and uncluttered look, and the switches on the center console look similar to the ones found in models like the iX. Several trim and upholstery options are available.
We had a preview drive of the new 5 Series last month, and it looks to be a formidable entry into the technology arms race opposing BMW and its main rivals. There’s a new in-car gaming platform called AirConsole that turns a user’s smartphone into a controller, an automated parking system, and Highway Assistant technology that enables what BMW calls “attentive hands-free driving” at speeds of up to 85 mph.
What the specifications sheet looks like depends largely on how you envision your next daily driver. If you want an EV, that’s great: The i5 is for you. If you don’t care about EVs, that’s just fine and you’re not alone: There are a pair of turbocharged engines waiting for you.
At launch, the 5 Series lineup will consist of a single model called 530i. It’s powered by a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that works with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system to deliver 255 horsepower from 4,700 to 6,500 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque from 1,600 to 4,500 rpm. The horsepower picks up right after the torque drops off. Rear-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission come standard, and the company’s xDrive all-wheel-drive is system available at an extra cost. BMW pegs the 530i’s 0-to-60-mph time at 5.9 seconds with rear-wheel-drive and 5.8 seconds with all-wheel-drive, while the top speed checks in at 155 mph regardless of driven wheels.
Due out shortly after the 530i, the all-wheel-drive-only 540i xDrive benefits from a 3.0-liter straight-six turbocharged to 375 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. If that’s not enough, an overboost function unlocks 398 pound-feet of torque for short bursts of time.
BMW confirmed that a plug-in hybrid model will make its debut in the United States in 2024, and buyers in Europe will have access to turbodiesel options that won’t be offered here. And, it’s reasonable to assume that additional engine options will join the range later on.
On the electric side of the range, the i5 will be available in two variants named eDrive40 and M60 xDrive, respectively. The former uses a rear-mounted electric motor that zaps the rear wheels with 335 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, though torque briefly goes up to 317 when the Sport Boost or Launch Control function is activated. The latter gets a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system that posts figures of 590 and 586, respectively, or up to 605 with either overboost function. It’ll be the most powerful variant of the new 5 Series at launch, and a model-specific grille characterized by a black panel with a subtle M emblem instead of slat-like inserts will highlight this positioning.
Both i5s use an 84.3-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, and the electrical system can handle 205-kilowatt charging. EPA-estimated range figures won’t be available until closer to the i5’s launch, but BMW estimates 295 miles for the eDrive40 and 256 miles for the M60 xDrive. The eDrive40 takes 5.7 seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop, and the M60 xDrive’s extra motor lowers that figure to 3.7 seconds. The eDrive40 tops out at 120 mph, while the M60 xDrive reaches 130 mph with standard tires or 143 mph with the optional performance tires.
Going electric inevitably adds a substantial amount of weight. The new 5 Series and the i5 both measure around 199.2 inches long, 74.8 inches wide, and 59.6 inches tall. The 530i weighs 4,041 pounds with rear-wheel-drive and 4,158 pounds with all-wheel-drive; the i5 tips the scale at 4,916 pounds with rear-wheel-drive and 5,247 pounds with all-wheel-drive — that’s about 150 pounds more than the 7 Series.
The next-generation BMW 5 Series will enter production in October 2023. Pricing information is as follows:
- 530i: $58,895
- 530i xDrive: $61,195
- 540i xDrive: $65,895
- i5 eDrive40: $67,795
- i5 M60 xDrive: $85,095
Note that these figures include a $995 destination charge. The list of standard features includes 19-inch wheels, a moonroof, front sport seats, a wireless device charger, a Harman Kardon sound system, and a navigation system. Options? If you want ’em, the 5 has ’em including the Convenience, Driving Assistance Professional, and M Sport packages, illuminated kidney grilles, and heated rear seats.