BMW’s i5 Touring brings estate practicality to the EV world

All-electric estate hits the market almost a year ahead of Audi’s rival A6

BMW i5 Touring

While many an Irish car buyer will roll their eyes at the suggestion of an estate, there is a potential renaissance coming for the low-roofed, long-back car.

Tall, bulky SUVs are anathema to the sort of energy efficiency needed to really kick-start the electric motoring revolution, and so SUVs are going to have to climb down a bit to improve their aero performance and create longer-range, more frugal electric cars. And a low-roofed SUV is basically an estate.

BMW isn’t hanging around while the market and marketers split their body-shape-definition hairs, as here is the i5 Touring, a car which is unequivocally an estate.

BMW i5 Touring

Being an electric estate, it’s also something of a current rarity – in terms of direct, premium-badge rivals, Audi’s delayed A6 e-tron won’t be here until at least the end of this year, and its Avant estate brother will likely take longer, while Mercedes product planners basically shrug and look the other way when you ask about the possibility of an EQE estate. The only close rival, really, is the Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo which costs almost €10,000 more at its cheapest point than this i5 eDrive40 Touring’s €92,880.

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There’s also the four-wheel drive, 601hp i5 M60 for example, which costs €121,890 and there will be a plug-in hybrid 530e, but BMW Ireland has not set prices for that yet.

The new i5 Touring is 97mm longer than the old 5 Series Touring, measuring in at just over 5.0 metres, and it’s a tiny bit wider and taller too. That extra size has allowed BMW to stretch the wheelbase to 2,995mm which is lots, and benefits those sat in the rear, who get quite a bit more space than they would have in the old 5.

The luggage space is impressive. Up to the luggage cover, there’s 570 litres of storage (irrespective of which model you choose) which is 20 litres more space than you get in a BMW X3 (what was that about SUVs being practical, again?). It’s also a full 80 litres more than you get in the i5 saloon. Fold down the back seats, and that expands to 1,700 litres. That’s 100 litres more than you get in the X3, incidentally.

BMW i5 Touring

The rear seats split-fold in three, in 40:20:40 formation, and there’s a storage space under the boot floor where you can stash the luggage cover, partition net, and your charging cables (there’s no auxiliary ‘frunk’ in the nose).

While the M60′s 3.9 seconds 0-100km/h sprint will grab the headlines, the 340hp eDrive40′s 6.1 seconds is hardly slow, and it has more range than the powerful four-wheel drive version – 560km plays 505km. From our experience with the i5 saloon, your likely day-to-day range in mixed driving and weather conditions is likely to be closer to 450km, unless you’re a very diligent driver who has an air conditioning allergy. The i5 eDrive40′s energy consumption is rated at 31.0 to 26.5 kWh/100 km according to the WLTP test.

You can recharge quickly, though. The i5 will handle up to 205kW from a high-speed DC charger, thanks to standard 22kW AC charging for the eDrive 40 Sport, and the M60, you can get surprisingly fast charges from kerbside ESB (and other) charging points.

As well as the traditional BMW 50:50 front:rear weight distribution, the i5 can also be had with advanced adaptive suspension and even an active anti-roll system. Meanwhile, there’s a new advanced driving aid, known within BMW as Highway Assistant, which allows you to take your hands off the steering wheel for extended periods on motorways, as long as you continue to watch the road ahead and are prepared to take back control when needed. Right now, that’s only available in the US, Canada, and Germany, but it will roll out to other markets as legislation allows.

You can order your i5 Touring now, but the first customer deliveries won’t take place till May at the earliest, with the 530e plug-in hybrid following on after that.

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Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring