After a long delay, BMW is flooding the market with EVs, and the i5 is one generating plenty of buzz, especially the top-trim M60 edition. Like all M models, it promises a blend of power and luxury. But does it all come together? That’s what Headlight.News set out to discover during a day’s drive of the 2024 BMW i5 M60 near the automaker’s manufacturing complex in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
The BMW 5 Series was the original “Ultimate Driving Machine,” striking a balance between the sporty little 3 Series and the luxurious 7 Series.
An all-new version of the “5-er” is coming to market for the 2024 model year and, for the first time, there’ll be a broad range of electrified powertrains, starting with the base mild hybrid package, as well as the sportier — and more environmentally friendly — plug in hybrid.
The eighth-generation 5 Series also introduces an all-electric option for the first time. Make that three EV packages. At launch, there’s the i5 eDrive40, which delivers a reasonable solid 335 horsepower through the rear wheels.
For those who want maximum performance, there’s the i5 M60, which pushes a much more impressive 593 hp through all four wheels. What the automaker only describes as an “i5 eDrive variant” will follow, likely sometime during the latter 2024 calendar year.
For my first time behind the wheel of any of the new 5 Series models I decided to focus on the 593 hp 2024 i5 M60, hoping to discover if this is the “Ultimate Electric Driving Machine.” For the most part, it lived up to my expectations.
BMW is a brand in the midst of a major transition. Like pretty much all automakers, it’s electrifying its lineup with hybrids of various sorts, as well as all-electric models. When it comes to EVs the automaker has repeatedly shifted strategies. The original i3 was built on a unique battery-only platform. And that’s where it’s going, long term, starting with the new iX model.
The i5 — as well as the recently launched i4 and i7 EVs — follows a different approach, using a flexible platform allowing BMW to package in a broad range of different powertrains, as I mentioned earlier. There are compromises. Models using internal combustion engines ride higher, as the platform was designed to mount a battery pack under the load flood. EV versions, meanwhile, retain the center driveshaft tunnel, rather than getting a flat load floor, like the iX.
That said, the compromises are otherwise modest, as I learned once I got behind the wheel.
Longer, wider, taller
All 2024 BMW 5 Series model grow larger, and in all key dimensions, overall length up a full 3.4 inches. The basic design has been updated in a variety of ways, starting with a more upright front end, but it’s not going to deliver the electrical shock of seeing the new iX for the first time.
Like the gas models, the all-electric i5 M60 looks and feels familiar. It does have a few notable differences, literally from front-to-back. The sedan features a sealed grille, since there’s no need to feed air into an engine compartment. Smaller, low-mounted air intakes do provide airflow to help cool the battery pack, especially when you’re pushing things to the limits. In back, of course, there are no exhaust pipes.
There’s a new rear fascia with an integrated diffuser, a fast C-pillar with a monochromatic embossed “5,” and BMW offers wheel options from 19 to 21 inches.
The M60 grille is high-gloss black, as are other accents around the sedan. And you’ll easily spot the sport brakes barely concealed by the unique aerodynamic wheels. There are a variety of M touches, including the mirrors, spoiler and diffuser. But you also can upgrade to the M Sport Pro package, adding niceties such as darkened lights and an illuminated double-kidney grille.
The “tech-forward” interior of the 2024 5 Series has gone through an even more significant upgrade, with a new, gently curved, all-digital display that stretches almost two-thirds of the way across the instrument panel.
The sedan now adds a flat-bottomed steering wheel with, on the M60, a red stripe at the 12 o’clock position. I found it really helpful while thrashing the EV around the challenging track at BMW’s Performance Driving Center.
The added dimensions of the 2024 5 Series translate into an even roomier interior. Meanwhile, the seats on the M60 are all new and notably more supportive. The interior is available in a variety of new colors and materials, including a “vegan” package that replaces conventional leather. Oddly, if you get the Sport Pro package, however, it includes a leather steering wheel.
The “base” i5 eDrive40 is a reasonably sporty package, a single electric motor nominally pushing 335 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. Hit the Sport Boost mode and it jumps to even peppier 317 lb-ft. The M60 nearly doubles the pony count, at 593 hp, while torque climbs to 549 lb-ft — and goes all the way to 605 lb-ft for a short run in Sport Boost, or when using Launch Control.
Both EVs share the same, 81.2 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. It will get you an EPA-estimated 295 miles per charge with the eDrive40, the M60 cutting that to a moderate, but clearly not benchmark 256 miles.
When it comes to charging, BMW does reasonably well, requiring as little as 30 minutes to go from a 10% to 80% state-of-charge using a public quick charger. That requires at least a 205 kilowatt output. Use one of the early 50 kW chargers and you might want to watch a movie on your smartphone while waiting.
Actually, you’ll be able to watch on the big infotainment touchscreen. With the latest version of BMW’s now-familiar iDrive upgraded to operating system 8.5 you’ll have access to both streaming video and games, BMW officials pointed out.
There are plenty of new, high-tech features in the 5 Series family, including a hands-free driving system that includes a first-time Active Lane Change function. If you’ve set your cruise control to a speed higher than the traffic ahead, onboard sensors will determine whether it’s safe to pass. Simply look to the mirror on the side you’ll pass on and the car will change lanes.
Of course, there are all the other requisite technologies you’d expect, including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite radio, wireless smartphone charging and plenty of USB ports. From a safety standpoint, there’s a broad array of advanced driver assistance systems.
What’s important to keep in mind is that torque comes on all but instantaneously. There’s no waiting for the engine to rev up. Slam the throttle and you’ll immediately feel the difference that makes as you sink deep into the M60’s sport seats. BMW estimates 0-60 launches will take about 3.7 seconds.
In Sport or Track Modes the feeling of acceleration can cross into the brutal category. Even pressing down moderately on the throttle yields an instant, electrical adrenaline rush. Track Mode, incidentally, shuts off all the usual nanny features, so you really do want to restrict usage to the track.
In various comfort settings, the beast is a bit more tame — enough on the words, a bit. But that does tend to smooth things out in terms of ride comfort thanks to the i5 M60’s standard rear air suspension or, if you prefer, the M Sport Suspension, with its adaptive dampers. The EV also gets an integral active steering system. At higher speeds it improves handling in tight corners. Around town it makes for a more nimble ride and eases parking in tight spots.
I had the chance to push the i5 M60 to extremes on the BMW Performance Center’s serpentine track. It’s a challenging course with an extremely technical section that truly tests the mettle of your metal. While the M60 package features all-wheel-drive, torque is biased towards the rear, especially during hard launches. Once I got a feel for the package I put that to good use, letting the back end slide out a bit to better position me when coming out of tight corners. On the track’s straights the feeling of raw power was almost drug-like.
BMW has done a solid job of delivering fun-to-drive EVs with models like the i4 and iX. And the i7 shows how battery power can really work with a high-end luxury sedan. But it all seems to come together in the form of the i5 M60.
As it should. The 5 Series really has been the best of both worlds — and it’s traditionally done that with minimal compromise. So goes the i5. The M60 just kicks things up a high-torque notch. While it may not be perfect, the 2024 BMW i5 M60 comes close to being the Ultimate Electric Driving Machine.
The Bavarian automaker is now second on the U.S. EV sales charts, lagging only behind Tesla. With the launch of the various i5 models it should close the gap at least a little bit.
The M60 is just going into production over in Germany and early customers could take delivery late next month or, at worst, by early in 2024. If you’re looking to add your name to the list expect a starting price of $84,100 before delivery fees of $995.