BMW’s all-electric i5, the ultimate in EV luxury

There are electric vehicles (EVs) and there are ‘EVs’, but there’s only one BMW 5 Series that is all-electric – the BMW i5.

Excuse the hyperbole but the German automaker unabashedly states that its newly-launched i5 in its eDrive40 M Sport iteration is the ultimate in electric luxury. Priced in the suitably ‘upper-income’ bracket band of drivers, it has just got to be so, doesn’t it?

PACE (Premium Auto Care Expo) 2023 in Setia Alam, Selangor, Malaysia, was the location for its understated launch in the first week of November.

This EV jamboree was a weekend showcase, gathering a number of high-end purveyors of EVs under one roof.

BMW chose this month – November – nearing the end of a hectic 2023 to time the i5 launch, which completes its line-up of EVs for the local market.

Speaking at the launch, BMW Group Malaysia managing director, Hans de Visser, said with this introduction, it is staying on course at “making monumental strides in the realm of electric mobility”.

Timing and location of the launch neatly coincided with this year’s edition of PACE, which major distributors like Auto Bavaria, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volkswagen, EON (representing Proton, Mitsubishi and Smart), Volvo, Subaru, Hyundai, BYD and Isuzu, were present. And oh – BMW Motorrad was there with its eBike offering – the CE04, which sells for RM59,500 (on-the-road, excluding insurance).

I tend to view it as a scooter on steroids for its power output; and you need a Malaysian full B licence to handle the equivalent of its 400cc sporty brethren.

For those outside the Bayerische Motoren Werke fraternity, this full EV signals the rollout of the G60 5 Series generation with its multitude of variants – including mild hybrid internal combustion engines, and plug-in hybrids. This one just launched – the i5 eDrive40 is one of two globally available BEV G60s. Hang on for a bit for next year and you’ll probably find the i5 M60 xDrive and the other variants coming to these shores.

Excuse my need to toss in that word hyperbole again – but when BMW Malaysia describes its first all-electric BMWi5 eDrive40 M Sport as the ‘pinnacle of luxury’,  which sets new standard in electric mobility, I simply have to hold my hand up high and submit.

After all, those who belong to the ‘clan’ will pay RM419,800 (I will reveal what you get for this package later) to park one in the driveway without batting an eyelid.

As befits a luxury ‘behemoth’ (as far as luxury cars go), the battery unleashes a maximum output of 250kW/340hp with a peak torque of 430Nm. In Sports mode, step on the right foot pedal and you are propelled from 0 to 100kph in 6 seconds before you hit the top speed of 193kph. A full charge gives you a 582km range, which can be amplified using the Max Range function that deactivates the comfort functions (when the cocoon is already comfortable enough, methinks), and adjustments to power and speed limitations.

This is no ICE (internal combustion engine) – so where is the beating heart of this i5? You need more than just a jack and torque wrench plus screwdriver to get to the underbody, which will unveil a high-voltage battery with an 83.9kWh capacity. This employs adaptive recuperation and intelligent heat pump technology. ‘Nuff said.

It offers DC charging of up to 205kW and 500A, which reaches 80 per cent capacity in 34 minutes. Consider installing an 11kW AC wallbox charger and you top up fully while you sleep at home – if you get your regulation 8 hours and 15 minutes of shuteye, that is!

On its own, BMW has set up over 1,000 charging facilities throughout the country and continues to work with service providers like Gentari, Leader EV, and Handal DC, that will go a long way to dispel the onset of charging anxiety.

One of my favourite pastimes is to walk past a BMW showroom and see the type of traffic it attracts. No one shoos away anyone in ill-fitting shorts and sandals sporting a cheap-looking straw hat. Most probably, this ‘atypical’ outward appearance potentially hides a would-be buyer who can pay off the purchase in two quick instalments!

BMW offers a conditional five-year Easy Drive Financing Plan, where you can own the i5 eDrive40M Sport for RM4,855 per month! You will be offered the BMW Group Malaysia Premium Ownership experience that gives five years of Unlimited mileage warranty with service programme, and an eight-year battery warranty and roadside assistance, amongst others.

I will resist filling up column inches with appearance and ride qualities of this All-Electric i5 until I sit behind the cockpit and actually test drive this beast. Until such time, just hang on to your trusty ICE steed and admire the sight, and tune in to the humming motor sound of the BMW i5 eDrive40 M Sport driven by that gentleman still in that shorts and sandals as he gets caught in the crazy traffic in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle!

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