BMW has announced that the introduction of the i5, the first all-electric 5-Series, is just a few weeks away. For now, we can see from the released photos of two unique trim grades and information about some of the technology under the skin.
The core piece of technology for those of us who prefer to drive rather than be driven is a new, more sophisticated version of BMW's adaptive damper suspension system, which the automaker claims gives the i5 almost 7-Series levels of ride comfort while maintaining the agility you'd typically expect from a 3-Series. The ingenious bit is how the shocks select how much dampening force to dole out.
Current BMW models depend on math models to determine what the dampers should do next. Still, the new system analyzes real-time data from sensors monitoring things like wheel speed, steering angle, yaw rate, and acceleration before giving instructions to the suspension. This Adaptive Suspension Professional system is standard on the high-performance all-wheel-drive i5 M60 shown in the photo below, but you'll have to pay extra for it on the rear-wheel-drive i5 eDrive40, or you'll be stuck with plain old passive dampers.
The technology will also be available on the standard combustion 5-Series, which will be introduced a few months after the i5. Furthermore, BMW admits that having such a wide range of powertrain combinations results in considerable variations in weight across models. Therefore each version receives its unique chassis tuning.
BMW also mentions a standard heat pump, which could aid the i5's driving range. Still, the other major technology highlighted is the EV's autonomous driving capability, part of the Driving Assistant Professional and Highway Assistant package and is already available on the new i7. It's a Level 2+ system rather than the more advanced Lidar-based Level 3 system that BMW has promised would arrive in the 7-Series later this year, so you'll still need to pay attention to the road, which a face-monitoring camera ensures. However, it does enable you to obliterate your hands at speeds of up to 81 mph (130 kmh).
What distinguishes the i5's version is that gazing in the rear-view mirror causes the car to change lanes, which may be bothersome for those who prefer to check our mirrors regularly rather than only when we change lanes, which hopefully is all of us. Alternatively, as on the i7, you may change lanes by touching the turn signal. This Level 2+ system is accessible in North America and Germany and will be shared with the later-arriving combustion 5-Series.