For the new generation, the wheelbase has grown 20mm and the suspension hard points (there are wishbones up front, five links at the back, with air springs at the rear in the i5) have been tweaked but the core recipe is unchanged.
Weber now briefly justifies the homologous engineering approach. He says BMW won’t force customers into an unfamiliar model range simply because they want an EV.
‘Unlike Mercedes’, he may as well add, but resists. Instead, with BMW, whichever powertrain type best suits you – be it ICE, PHEV or EV – you can dress it in a 5 Series suit. The electric i5 is therefore as much a ‘proper’ 5 Series as any combustion model.
In the UK, we will get the single-motor 335bhp eDrive40 tested here and dual-motor 593bhp M60 xDrive, while notable models on the combustion side include the 205bhp 520i M Sport and six-cylinder PHEV 550e xDrive M Sport. And there’s the M5, of course. For now (and possibly forever), the UK won’t be getting diesels.
And now, that sign of the times. Preamble over, we’re ready to learn how the world’s best-handling executive saloon has been made more rewarding and mechanically sophisticated, whatever the powertrain. But Weber is thinking differently.
He leads with the fact that BMW’s five-million-strong fleet of over-the-air-upgradable vehicles is the largest in the world. We then hear that navigation, telephony and entertainment are the most used functions in BMW’s cars (no mention of the steering wheel). We’re educated about the new OS 8.5 for the mesmerisingly crisp, curving infotainment display, and about BMW’s software joint venture, which is based in this very building and, along with another site in Porto, has capacity for 2000 engineers, all of them focused on UX and digital ‘premium mobility’ solutions. (Software aces conjuring chassis magic remain in Germany.)