BMW is launching this year their first-ever electric touring, starting with the entry-level i5 eDrive40 Touring and the i5 M60 xDrive Touring. After driving the tuned up M Performance version a day earlier, it was now time to sample the rear-wheel drive variant. Some housekeeping items first: No, the BMW i5 Touring nor the ICE version is coming to United States. Secondly, there are no immediate plans to reverse that course either. A pity and you’ll learn why in this review.

RWD, 340 HP

So with that out of the way, let’s talk specs first. The 2024 BMW i5 eDrive Touring – a mouthful – drops the front motor of the M60 and sends the power to the rear only. The current-excited synchronous motor delivers 340 hp and 430 Nm of torque, enough to propel the large touring to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds. Top speed is capped at 193 km/h. Speaking of being large, the i5 eDrive40 Touring tips the scale at 2180 kg versus 2350 in the i5 M60 Touring.

BMW i5 eDrive40 Touring

  • Practical
  • Great driving dynamics
  • Lots of cargo space
  • Expensive
  • Lack of physical buttons
  • No split tailgate

Up to 560 km Range on the WLTP

Charging capacity is the same though, 205 kW, enough for a quick snack charge of 149 km in 10 minutes. The maximum range is 560 kilometers on the WLTP cycle from a 81.2 kWh usable battery capacity. For slower, more extended charging, the BMW i5 eDrive40 Touring offers an optional 22 kW charging capability, which takes about 4.25 hours for the i5 M60 but is optional for the eDrive40. The standard 11 kW capability will charge your i5 eDrive40 Touring in 8.5 hours.

The brake regeneration system has a maximum capacity of 120 kW due to the single motor and includes one-pedal driving in B mode. In D mode, you can choose between Adaptive, Low, Medium, and High regen settings, allowing you to customize your regenerative braking experience. Personally, I prefer the Adaptive mode as it performs well in most situations. However, if efficiency is your priority and you don’t get motion sickness, opt for the one-pedal mode.

Towing capacity is rated at 1500 liters because if you live in Europe, towing with a touring is a thing. Did I mention how popular BMW tourings are in Germany? According to data, there are more wagons sold in Germany than sedans.

Lots of Suspension Options

The 2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 Touring offers quite a few choices when it comes to suspension, including an optional rear axle air suspension. I only had the chance to sample the air suspension, so everything I experienced was driven by that. There is a base suspension, then an 8mm lowered sport suspension and the adaptive. Customers can also order the Integral Active Steering which I highly recommend for a car of this size.

Compared to the i5 M60 Touring, the optional Active Roll Stabilizers are not offered. For drivers primarily navigating city streets, opting for one of the adaptive suspension setups is advisable because it’s the only way to enjoy rear steering, significantly reducing the turning radius. That’s achieved by the rear wheels turning 2.5 degrees in the opposite direction of the front wheels.

Driving Experience on Backroads

As expected, the 2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 Touring offers a different driving experience than the i5 M60. It’s not only the power difference, but also the rear-wheel drive and lower weight which affect how the car feels on the road. Naturally, it still delivers a balanced and composed ride, particularly noticeable on winding roads. In the eDrive40 Touring, the weight distribution changes as well, with more load put on the rear axle.

The rear-mounted single motor provides ample power and stability through corners, even with the occasional wheel spin which makes it quite fun. The i5 eDrive40 Touring exhibits a bit more body roll compared to the M60 due to the absence of some performance enhancements. This becomes increasingly noticeable as you push the car harder. Although there is noticeable body roll in Comfort mode, the car remains controlled.

Switching to Sport mode helps mitigate this by tightening the suspension, chassis, steering and more. What I appreciate about the Adaptive Professional suspension, in comparison to the M Adaptive setup, is the reduced stiffness. The dampers are less rigid, which is particularly noticeable on rougher surfaces, providing a more comfortable ride.

Comfort and Handling

In Comfort mode, the BMW i5 eDrive40 Touring emphasizes the characteristics of a premium touring, offering comfortable steering feedback and a ride that smoothly absorbs most road imperfections. Yes, it’s still light and artificial compared to other electronic steering racks. The Sport Mode can enhance the engagement slightly, but overall, the steering feels somewhat detached.

Power Delivery

The power delivery is great though, very smooth and linear, with 340 horsepower offering sufficient performance for most driving scenarios. Overtaking is effortless, thanks to Boost Mode, which provides extra torque to push you through. I also have a feeling that many customers will enjoy the power deliver a lot more than in the i5 M60 Touring, easing them into this electric world. The braking system also enjoys the lower weight of the eDrive40 and it’s quite adequate for most driving scenarios.

Highway driving is uneventful. This is a long-trip cruiser which ticks all the right boxes: comfortable, spacious, luxurious and fun when needed. If you opt for the highest level of driving assistance features (Level 2+), then you will get to enjoy the Motorway Assistant, also known as the Highway Assistant. One notable feature is Automatic Lane Change, which allows lane changes by simply shifting your head to confirm the prompt. Additionally, the 130 km/h hands-free driving feature proves extremely useful for long, monotonous road trips.

MaxRange Mode, iDrive 8.5, Updated eRoute

Range is still a concern amongst future customers, but the i5 eDrive40 Touring has a few tricks up its sleeve. One of them is the MaxRange driving mode which extends the electric range by up to 25% but imposes certain limitations, such as a reduced speed limit of 90 km/h, decreased engine power, and reduced heating and ventilation for the seats and steering. This mode is ideal for those who prioritize range over other comforts.

The BMW Operating System 8.5 comes standard, offering meaningful visual upgrades and improvements to the eRoute function. I won’t go into full details (you can watch the video here), but essentially, the algorithm got smarter: it calculates the fastest route with the fewest stops and considers amenities available during those stops, the number of stations, and more.

Should I Buy The i5 eDrive40 Touring or i5 M60 Touring?

This is the same question I asked myself when I drove the sedan variants. The answer remains unchanged: if it were my money, I would choose the i5 eDrive40. It’s nearly 30,000 euros cheaper (72,200 vs. 101,500), giving you plenty of room for significant upgrades or personalized color choices. Moreover, I believe the rear-wheel drive i5 Touring is more enjoyable to drive, both for cornering and as a daily driver.

Overall, the BMW i5 Touring family is a compelling and mature electric product without the unnecessary flashiness. While it might not initially sell as well as the 520d Touring, it will gradually gain popularity as we adapt to the new electric era. With Europe’s charging infrastructure improving daily, range anxiety should no longer be a significant concern.