BMW’s i5 Touring is a polished electric estate car

BMW has expanded its electric i5 line-up with the introduction of a new practical Touring version. Is it the EV to choose? Jack Evans finds out.

BMW’s 5 Series Touring has a history which stretches back decades. Historically one of the firm’s more spacious models, it’s been a favourite among those who value room and practicality above all else. Accompanied by the usual refinement you’d expect from a big BMW, it’s little wonder why it has proven so popular over the years.

But how do you go about transferring that into the electric age? Here’s the car to do it – the i5 Touring. An estate version of the recently introduced i5 saloon, this new Touring aims to be one of the best all-rounder options in the new electric vehicle segment – but is that the case? We’ve been driving it out in Germany to find out.

Aside from the longer rear section that boosts spaciousness, the Touring follows the same technology-focused approach taken by the ‘regular’ i5. That means a screen-heavy interior, plenty of assistance systems and every gadget that BMW currently has to offer. It also gets a fully vegan interior alongside video streaming – giving you access to services like YouTube – to enjoy while you’re charging up.

Photos: PA Media

Plus, the i5 Touring – like the regular i5 – has been designed with a multi-powertrain approach, so if you don’t fancy a battery-powered version then a plug-in hybrid will also be on offer. This does offer downsides – the rear seats aren’t as spacious as they might’ve been had the i5 been on a solely electric platform – but it gives an option for those who don’t see an EV fitting into their lifestyle.

The i5 Touring we’re driving here is the ‘standard’ eDrive40 version. While a more powerful ‘M’ version is available, we’re expecting this one to be the big seller, largely because of its impressive range – up to 343 miles, according to BMW – as well as its more manageable performance. Still, with 335bhp the i5 Touring is no slouch and will manage 0-60mph in a shade under six seconds. Flat-out, it’ll tap out at 120mph.

With a full-whack charging rate of 205kW, the i5 Touring is one of the speediest cars out there charge-wise. BMW claims that you could do a 10 to 80 per cent charge in 30 minutes at a fast charging station, or a full charge in eight-and-a-half hours via a home wallbox.

Immediately after slotting behind the wheel of the i5 Touring, everything feels familiar. The seating position is pleasantly low while there’s a good amount of adjustability from both the seat itself and the steering wheel. Move off and the i5 Touring isn’t as brutally fast as some other EVs on sale today, but it delivers its performance in a more manageable, progressive fashion. It feels, largely, more ‘normal’ and that helps to make this Touring a little more like a conventional petrol or diesel car.

It’s quiet, too, with great levels of refinement at all speeds, though the ride can be a little firm at lower speeds as the whole car manages its 2.2 tonnes of body weight. Head to the bends and the i5 Touring corners true, delivering a good level of grip without too much body roll. More than anything it’s relaxing, so it ties in with the characteristics you’d expect from previous generations of the 5 Series.

BMW’s Tourings have always, to our eyes at least, been quite handsome things. The i5 Touring certainly has its positive angles and from whichever aspect you look at it, is recognisable as one of BMW’s estate models. As with the latest models from this firm, we’ve got the uber-large front grille which is outlined by a light-up area, while the headlights have a particularly prominent design to them.

At the rear quarter, there’s the traditional Hoffmeister kink, while at the very back of the car there’s a subtle spoiler. It’s all very measured and not too outlandish, so it feels appropriate for an ‘everyday’ EV like this.

Tourings are all about space and, in many ways, the i5 Touring delivers in this area. Up front, you’ve got a clear view of the road ahead with comfortable seats to settle into while at the back, there’s a good level of legroom and headroom. However, since the i5 Touring’s platform still needs to accommodate combustion engines in other markets, there’s still a chunky transmission tunnel which eats into space. Sitting three abreast will be a bit tight, that’s for sure.

Boot space? That’s 570 litres as standard, or 1,655 litres with the rear seats down and this is the same on all powertrains. Plus, it represents a 10-litre boost over the previous petrol and diesel-powered models. One sizeable omission is the rear glass hatch; a trademark of Tourings over the years, it allowed you to access the load area by opening the rear glass section independently of the whole boot. On this latest 5 Series Touring generation, it’s missing, feeling like a closed door on a key part of this car’s history in the process.

However, you do get plenty of equipment regardless of trim. There’s BMW’s latest curved display which blends the main driver readout and the infotainment screen under one continuous piece of glass. Two-zone climate control, wireless smartphone charging and a Harman/Kardon sound system all come on base-level Sport models too.

The BMW i5 Touring is an electric estate car with boatloads of polish. It ticks all of the boxes we’d expect from a BMW estate car thanks to its well-sized boot, pleasantly finished interior and well-judged driving experience which blends refinement and sportiness without going overboard on either. The lack of a glass hatch is a sad deletion and one which takes away some of the usability that you’d want from a Touring, however.

It’s expensive, for sure, but occupies a space taken up by no other car in the market at this price point. More than anything, it feels like a true 5 Series Touring, which is something that was at risk in this move to electric.

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