This year the BMW 5-Series is in for the biggest shakeup in its 51-year history. Along with the introduction of the eighth-generation car, we’ll be formally introduced to the first ever electric 5-Series production car, the BMW i5, snapped here undergoing winter testing.
Unlike the BMW i4, iX, and XM, which are standalone products, the i5 follows the i7 in being based on the same platform and body as a contemporary combustion-powered BMW. In the case of the i5, that car is the all-new 5-Series, and as these pictures show, the first EV variant will be offered in both sedan and wagon body styles, just like its gas-guzzling brother.
One of the images showing the i5 Touring and combustion 5-Series sedan on the top of a car transporter reveals that visual differences will mostly be limited to a blanked-off grille on the EV. Both get the same body panels and the same flush-fit door handles, but just to banish any doubt that the wagon is packing an electric drivetrain, our spy photographers snapped the underside of the Touring while it was up on the transporter, revealing that it has no exhaust system.
If this is a top-dog M60 version of the i5 it’s probably powered by the same 610 hp (619 PS) dual-motor setup found in the iX M60 SUV, which should give the all-wheel drive wagon a zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) time of 3.8 seconds or less. But BMW will have plenty of electric alternatives for drivers who don’t need that much muscle. The iX is also available as a 516 hp (523 PS) xDrive50 mated to the same huge 111.5 kWh battery, or as a 322 hp (326 PS) xDrive40 with a more modest 76.6 kWh power pack.
And of course, if you prefer tailpipes on your 5-Series Touring (or sedan), BMW will have you covered with a range of mild-hybrids, plug-in hybrids, diesel, and eventually, a range-topping M5 with the availability of each of those models depending on your geographical location. Diesel models won’t make it to the U.S., but it’s rumored that the Touring could be back on the menu for North America very soon.