New BMW 5 Series: BMW lines up hot EV and 560kW M5 PHEV

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bmw 5 series 2023 render as imagined by autocarThe seventh-generation BMW 5 Series will bow out after seven years in mid-2023 and its successor will be radically transformed, both technologically and stylistically, as part of BMW’s transition to a maker of electric cars.

Most notably, the 5 Series will follow its X3 and 4 Series siblings in being offered with a choice of pure-combustion, hybrid and full-electric powertrains in line with BMW’s ambition to sell seven million plug-in hybrid and pure-electric vehicles by the end of 2030. By the time the new 5 Series goes on sale in 2023, the BMW Group will offer 12 fully electric vehicles globally, including EV versions of the X1 crossover and 7 Series (see bottom of story), and an all-electric version of the 3 Series is being readied as a sibling model to the i4.

The next 5 Series – which brings a sharper front-end design and a more rakish roofline than the current car – will sit atop an evolved version of the modular Cluster Architecture (CLAR) used by all current BMW models apart from the i3, 1 Series, 2 Series Gran Coupé and 2 Series Active Tourer. Compatible with pure-combustion, mild-hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric powertrains, as well as both rear- and all-wheel drive layouts, the CLAR platform underpins BMW’s strategy of portfolio diversification in the run-up to going all-electric.

98 bmw 5 series 2023 render imagined by autocar rear

The 5 Series will be one of the last all-new BMW models launched before the company begins the ‘third phase’ of its electric transition in 2025. This new era, termed ‘Neue Klasse’ in reference to the mould-breaking saloon cars that catapulted BMW into the mainstream in the 1960s and 1970s, will usher in new-generation EV powertrains, heighten BMW’s focus on supply chain sustainability and introduce an all-new software platform with the aim of providing “a completely novel user experience”.

Codenamed G60, the new 5 Series could be updated during its life cycle to keep pace with Munich’s new-era line-up. However, when the car is launched in 2023, BMW’s ‘Power of Choice’ strategy will still be in operation (a follow-up to the initial ‘Project i’ programme under which the i8 and i3 were launched), whereby each model in the lineup is offered with combustion, hybrid and electric powertrains.

97 bmw 5 series 2023 spies frontTo that end, it is set to largely retain the current car’s turbo-only four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel motors, as well as an expanded choice of plug-in hybrid systems centred on a 2.0-litre or 3.0-litre petrol combustion unit. Less certain is the survival of the 4.4-litre V8-powered M550i xDrive to occupy the gap between the 540i and top-rung M5. Its twin-turbo N63 petrol engine dates back to the first-generation X6, launched in 2008. This will make the unit 15 years old when the Mk8 5 Series arrives, so it will not be a strong candidate for expensive modifications to be made compliant with new Euro 7 emissions regulations.

One possibility for the M550i’s successor is an uprated version of the 545e PHEV’s four-wheel-drive powertrain, which comprises a 3.0-litre straight six and a 80kW gearbox-mounted electric motor for a combined 289kW and 599Nm. BMW has previously said CLAR-based PHEVs could accommodate electric motors with up to 150kW, which hints at the potential for a circa-375kW hybrid to sit beneath the M5. The M5 itself has been widely tipped to match its arch-rival, the Mercedes-AMG E63, in adopting plug-in power for its next iteration but with a petrol unit of larger capacity than AMG’s electrified turbo four.

96 bmw 5 series 2023 spies side

BMW development boss Klaus Fröhlich has already said there will not be any fully electric M cars until 2025. “Until then, we will have normally aspirated, turbo and ‘powered’ PHEV applications that deliver what we want to achieve,” he said, suggesting pure-electric powertrains and platforms remain too heavy to match the dynamic performance of today’s M cars.

An M5 PHEV could use the electrified set-up tipped to appear in the upcoming X8 M performance SUV, which has been reported to mate the M division’s ‘S63’ twin-turbo V8 with a 150kW electric motor for a combined output in the region of 560kW. In the M5, that would almost certainly prove a significant enough boost (around 100kW) to offset the weight penalty of a hybrid powertrain. It would also provide BMW with a contender to rival the forthcoming PHEV variant of Mercedes-AMG’s GT 63 4-Door Coupé, which will pack around 600kW, hit 100km/h from rest in less than 3.0sec and have a top speed above 320km/h.

If the M5 does adopt such a set-up, it still leaves room at the top of the 5 Series line-up for an even more powerful fully electric performance variant based on the new i5. The CLAR platform can house up to three electric motors – two on the rear axle and one at the front – with a combined power output of 600kW. That would make even a far heavier ‘i5 M’ capable of outstripping the current, 460kW M5 Competition in a straight line.

Fröhlich also anticipates that an EV’s easily configurable traction control system means agility and responsiveness could be on a par. “The control can be 100% faster than on an M4 today, so it is easy to have a more responsive car,” he said. “If you want a drift mode that slips to five or 10 degrees – even 45 – then it is easy.”

93 bmw 5 series 2023 electric render imagined autocar

However, it remains to be seen if BMW would offer a road car this potent. The Porsche Taycan Turbo S has a maximum output of 560kW – even then only for a few seconds – and is one of the fastest-accelerating cars on sale today.

Further down the scale, the standard i5 will be marked out from the 5 Series in usual BMW EV style with a blanked-off grille, bespoke wheel designs and, based on subtle differences between two recently spotted prototypes, a bespoke rear-end design. The i5 is highly likely to mirror the line-up of the new i4, which means potentially a choice of rear- and four-wheel drive, with outputs ranging from 250kW in an entry-level i5 eDrive40 to 392kW in a twin-motor M50 xDrive model. The i4’s 80.7kWh battery pack, said to be 30% more power dense than the smaller i3’s 42.2kWh item, is also likely to feature, providing a WLTP range of around 560 kilometres at the top end.

Felix Page

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