First drive: 2023 BMW i5 prototype

It’s all achieved with outstanding drivetrain refinement and in near silence. You can hear a synthesised noise, meant to mimic the exhaust roar of an ICE BMW, but let’s just say it’s a matter of personal taste.

It’s what happens when you tap on a steering paddle marked Boost that really gets your attention. It unleashes all 590bhp for up to 10 seconds, with a countdown showing in the instrument panel. The result is explosive acceleration that leaves you breathless, the pick-up intense and the mid-range very muscular.

Does quick also mean fun to drive in this instance, though? The i5 M60 has BMW’s Adaptive M Suspension Professional package, with steel springs up front, bespoke air springs at the rear and variable dampers. Our test prototype also featured the Dynamic Drive option, which adds electromechanical stabilisation of body roll.

In Sport mode, the handling balance is terrifically neutral, with strong front-axle grip and a low centre of gravity giving it great agility. You can therefore confidently carry high speeds through open-radius corners without premature understeer spoiling the fun.

Excellent purchase at the rear and superb traction also allow you to deploy that instantly arriving power early for romping exits. The variable-rate steering, well weighted in the best of BMW traditions, has good off-centre precision, if not the last word on feedback.

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