BMW i5 M60 xDrive: We test out the new electric BMW in Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors

Frederic Manby is less than impressed by the range of the rapid BMW i5 M60 xDrive but welcomes the chance to Recharge in Nature on the Moors and in the Dales.

Talking points in my virtual Camshaft Arms always include the mileage range of electric cars, their cost and a paucity of charge hubs. BMW is hoping to boost their appeal and usability by offering owners a free subscription to reduced tariffs on domestic and public chargers.

All users of battery and PHEV cars can benefit from its Recharge in Nature installation of Pod-Point charging hubs with the National Parks. There are 15 in the Yorkshire Dales and North Yorkshire parks*. The Lake District, Dartmoor and Peak District parks have the new hubs and the next batch of chargers are going live in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs park next month. They use a phone app installation, rather than a more practical credit card tap. Details are on the relevant web sites.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

BMW’s new 5-series saloon has gone electric. The “5” model dates from 1972, and became one of the choice saloons for the company executive, back in the era of straight-six petrol engines.

Frederic Manby is less than impressed by the range of the rapid BMW i5 M60 xDriveFrederic Manby is less than impressed by the range of the rapid BMW i5 M60 xDrive
Frederic Manby is less than impressed by the range of the rapid BMW i5 M60 xDrive

And now to the eighth 5-series - the G60 - and electric power. A larger body takes the length past five metres - 199 inches. The first 5-series was a tidy 181 inches. The width bulks out to 75 inches. Diesel is not offered in the UK and the range opens with the 205bhp petrol 520i at £51,000. It has a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds, maximum of 143mph and economy figures nudging 49mpg and 132g/km of CO2. The lowest tax PHEV model is the 284bhp 530e, tempting at £59,455 with a 0-62 time of 6.3 seconds and electric range up to 63 miles. The 550e PHEV has 482bhp and a hefty 516 lb ft of torque, giving 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds, 56 electric miles and a price of £76,550.

The eDrive 40 M Sport is the cheaper of the electric models. This has a single 335bhp motor driving the rear wheels. They claim a range between 312 and 356 miles. The 0-62 time is six seconds, top speed is 119mph and it costs £74,105. The electric consumption is rated from 16 to 18.7 kilowatt hour of charging (kWh) for 62 miles.

The electric star is the i5 M60 xDrive, which is an all-wheel-drive successor to the petrol M5. It has 593bhp and 586 lb ft of torque with an extra motor driving the front wheels. The 0-62 time is 3.8 seconds, with a max of 142mph. BMW states an electric range of 284 to 316 miles and power consumption of 18.4 to 20.5 kWh for 62 miles. This is an optimum economy of 3.4 miles per kWh. Taking the cost of electricity for your home charger at a sample 25p/kWh those 62 miles cost from £4.60. These mileage and costs were not matched in our hands.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After paying £97,745 or the equivalent PCP plan you are not worrying about economy. You get the glow of zero engine pollution and in the M60 the fastest car you may ever have driven. It is stunningly quick from go, silent or enhanced with an installed engine noise.

Or it can be a demure five-seater luxury saloon with comfort and contentment if you avoid the hair trigger Sport mode. BMW sent us this hazy grey M60, with extras taking the bill to £117,345 of which £19,548 was snatched as VAT. Additions brought leather upholstery in place of the commendable standard Veganza fakery, £4,000 for adaptive suspension, various “packs” of comforts and technology, £1,750 for the showy external carbon trimmings and £1,600 for a full-length, fixed sunroof making a 5-series debut.

Even as the heaviest 5-series to date - around 2.4 tons because of the batteries - the M60 was balanced and civilised. We haven’t driven the 520i but with a standard weight of 1.8 tons and rear-wheel-drive it will feel handier and nimbler. On paper, it would be my choice from the range, quite fast enough these days and economical - and half the price of the wondrous M60.

So to my driving notes, starting with the illuminated grille surround distinguishing the M Sport Pro and M60 versions and the low profile tyres, just 2.5 inches of Continental’s rubber from road to rim and 11 inches wide at the back.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The interior is dominated by a 30-inch screen for information and driver digital displays which include route mapping, 43 apps from Alexa to YouTube bookending the overwhelming list of options for setting up the car to your satisfaction. There are handier touch-button tabs for major functions on the steering wheel and central console which carries BMW’s pioneering i-Drive selector wheel and the gear stub. The voice control response is clear and quick for most functions. Our car was fitted with gesture control which allows, for example, turning the audio volume up or down by rotating an index finger near the display. There are complex gestures using more fingers but skipping quickly onwards past such shy-making fripperies….

With a fully charged battery the M60’s stated range was a paltry 222 miles using the Efficient setting, or some 20 more miles selecting maximum range. Conversely, the Sport mode threatened a reciprocal slump. Even making concessions for cooler wet weather the range is not good but the better news was that it exceeded predictions. Viz, 32 miles travelled for a range reduction of just 23 miles. The average consumption driven calmly was 2.6 miles per kWh. At my domestic rate of 29p/kWh it means 62 miles for £6.91 which is remarkable for such a powerful car and less than the petrol 520i would cost.

BMW i5 M60 xDrive: £97,745 (£117,345 as tested); twin electric motors; 593 bhp; torque, 586 lb/ft; transmission, single speed automatic; top speed, 142mph; 0-62mph, 3.8 seconds; economy, 20.3 kWh/62 miles claimed; range, city 328 miles claimed; CO 2 emissions, zero; length 199 inches; braked towing limit, 2,000kg;

* Malham, Grassington, Hawes and Sutton Bank.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.