Technology: First drive in the BMW i5 prototype
Shortly after the Mercedes E-Class, BMW is launching its new 5 Series in October, which, like its big brother i7, is also available as an electric version i5 right from the start. The good news: the polarizing front end design of the BMW 7 Series and X7 is not displayed on the new luxury class sedan.
Introduced in 1972, the 5 Series is now in its 8th generation and will be available from October after more than ten million units have been sold. For the first time in the 5 Series there will also be an electric drive version in addition to the petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid versions. Underneath the body of the i5 is BMW’s modular platform (CLAR II), which was originally modified for the i4 to be used for electric cars. So it’s not a dedicated platform for battery-powered vehicles, as it’s also used here for the petrol, diesel plug-in hybrid and EV versions of the i5. Despite the continuous cardan tunnel, the space is generous and despite the battery pack in the underbody, adults over 1.80 tall can sit very comfortably in the back. The i5 will use the latest generation of BMW’s operating system (8.5), with minor updates compared to what we know from the i4, which already offers high processing power, superior connectivity, advanced features and a head-up display.
Aerodynamics has regained importance in the automotive industry and BMW has spared no effort to achieve the best possible drag coefficient of 0.23: “This is a very good value for a three-box body and ample access to the rear seats.” , assures Marco Schmidt, head of functional integration for the new 5 Series.The drive of the driven prototype BMW i5 M60 xDrive consists of an electric motor at the front and rear for the 4×4 drive with a total output of 440 kW / 598 hp.The rear-wheel drive i5 eDrive 40, on the other hand, delivers 250 kW / 340 hp via the rear motor.The size of the lithium-ion battery has not yet been officially announced, but one can assume that it will be of the order of 90 kWh.Due to the lack of 800 volts technology, as with the i7, ends with a charging capacity of 200 kilowatts and the range varies between 468 and 582 km with the eDrive40 (average consumption of 19.7 to 16.9 kWh/100 km) and 436 to 516 km (21.2 up to 17.9 kWh/100 km) with the M60 xDrive.
As for the chassis, there are adaptive dampers front and rear, air springs on the rear axle and rear axle steering that can steer the wheels by up to 2.5 degrees, “which we think is the perfect compromise to get the best handling and Achieving the best level of comfort and a natural driving experience would shift the vehicle’s turning point forward and create the feeling of a forklift truck,” explains Daniel Moegele, who is responsible for integrating the driving dynamics. Adaptive dampers are standard on the M60 and always included The eDrive 40 uses conventional dampers as standard.
As for driver assistance systems, there are several evolutionary features such as scooter/motorcycle detection, emergency braking when reversing or active cruise control with traffic light recognition, but the one that will make the biggest impression on users is automatic lane change with eye activation, the one is an industry first. BMW underlines that they have just received a one-off permit from the German traffic authority to use Level 2+ ADAS in their home country. I tried this last function on the motorway in southern France and it works more than impressively without any manual operation: first you switch on the system (a green indicator appears on the instrument panel), then a lane change recommendation appears in the same area, and all you have to do is look in the outside mirror on the side you want to switch to. 5G and the full-range front radar (with a scanning power of 300 meters) are key to achieve this function.
Even more impressive, however, is the dynamic competence of the car in the various possible uses that the BMW i5 offers between everyday car, business vehicle and noble family carriage. Driving in the BMW i5 M60 xDrive quickly shows how balanced the suspension setup is, how quickly it adapts to the different driver requirements and the road conditions, and how broad the spectrum of dynamic driving behavior is. It is the result of the well-tuned interaction of the variable damping, the anti-roll bar and the overall tuning of the front double wishbone and rear five-link suspension, which in the end hides that the new BMW i5 has broken the five-meter mark and weighs 2.5 tons. On the Miramas handling course and on public highways, you can rely on just a precise movement of your arm to steer the car throughout the turn. Even under hard acceleration, stability control is unlikely to kick in and there needs to be some sort of power limit, and part of that credit has to do with the wheel-slip limitation system that BMW introduced on the i3 years ago and has featured in the since following applications on several electric models.
The boost is more than impressive in every speed range and if it is not enough to be impressed, there is an additional 20 Nm of additional boost for a maximum of ten seconds when the left steering wheel pedal is pulled. During this power boost, a more dramatic digital engine sound accompanies it, which you should safely avoid and deactivate. Another highlight is the feel of the brake pedal, although it’s not exactly a surprise after driving the i4 and i7. BMW uses an integrated hydraulic cable brake that responds instantly as soon as you press the right pedal and is as linear as it is powerful throughout. No comparison to some of the other competitors, where the pedal feel is not that good, especially at the beginning of the braking process. BMW has decided against paddle shifters on the steering wheel in order to change the recuperation levels and select the individual driving programs via the button on the center tunnel in order to also activate the one-pedal feeling and make the brake pedal almost idle.