The new BMW i5

BMW i5 Review | The electric executive car

Read Caroline's BMW i5 review for everything you need to know about buying the new electric 5 Series in Ireland.

The new generation BMW 5 Series has arrived in Ireland and goes on sale as a petrol 520i, a petrol plug-in hybrid (530e or 550e) and as the all-new electric i5.

Following on from the success of the BMW i4, the i5 places a battery in BMW's classic executive saloon. A popular car for years now, it's famous for its luxury and dynamic rear wheel drive handling.

BMW has taken the decision not to sell the new 5 Series as a diesel so it's goodbye to the 520d and hello to the new i5.

Worth it? Let's take a closer look.

The new BMW i5
The new BMW i5

What's so special about the BMW i5?

The BMW i5 has a 81.2kWh battery (usable capacity) and there are two derivatives at launch - single motor or dual motor.

The classic single motor, rear wheel drive i5 eDrive 40 comes with a range projected between 477-582km (WLTP). It goes on sale from €91,105.

There's also a more powerful and expensive all-wheel drive i5 M60 xDrive with M performance upgrades and rear wheel steering.

The new generation 5 has a bigger presence than before, being longer, wider and taller than the model it replaces. BMW has done away with entry variants, so all 5 Series (from €70,845 for a 520i) and i5 models come as standard in the handsome M Sport trim. The M Sport Pro is available for upgrade too.

Alloy wheel sizes vary from 19- to 21-inch but it looks good even on the standard 19s.

The iconic kidney grille sits proudly at the front framed by LED headlights and sporty side air intakes. There's new black contrasting side sills and flush door handles for the very first time on a 5 Series.

Around the back, there is a subtle evolution of styling - but otherwise it's classic 5 Series. Strong, handsome, this time fully electrified.

A subtle evolution of style for BMW's famous executive saloon
A subtle evolution of style for BMW's famous executive saloon

Inside the i5

The brand new interior has had a massive digital upgrade with the addition of the new BMW curved display as seen in other models like the iX and the iX1. There's a full digital driver display that blends seamlessly into the central infotainment display, which can be controlled via touch control, voice control, gesture control and the iDrive controller on the centre console. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also feature, as well as wireless smartphone charging.

Charging stops can also be planned through the navigation system and battery preconditioning in advance to optimise the battery for fast charging.

'Veganza' synthetic leather upholstery comes as standard for a luxury feel. Front seats are heated with power adjustment and lumbar support. The cabin feels incredibly solid and well-built though without the outright opulence of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class for example. It's still a sturdy premium offering however.

For a bit more bling, the BMW Interaction Bar makes its debut in the 5 Series. It's like a thick strip of ambient lighting that can change colour depending on the drive mode selected and flash visual warnings to the driver.

The cabin of the new BMW i5
The cabin of the new BMW i5

The i5 feels spacious inside for an executive saloon though a large transmission tunnel does impede on legroom for a middle seat passenger. But there's plenty of space and comfort for two VIPs on either side!

The boot is also generously sized at 490 litres, just a bit down on the space in the fuel versions (520 litres). The rear seats also split 40:20:40.

A Touring model is also available in both the fuel and electric version.

Driving the new BMW i5

It's a quiet and serene experience driving the new i5. You do feel nicely isolated from wind and road noise as it moves effortlessly over the tarmac. The ride is generally good too for an electric saloon on the standard lowered M sports suspension - just a bit bumpy over imperfections in the road surface. Things smooth out well on the motorway. There's also the option to upgrade to adaptive dampers.

The i5 eDrive 40 has 340hp and 430Nm of torque. It's a heavy car but can still do the sprint to 100km/h in just 6 seconds to the tune of an electric engine soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer, as seen in some other new electric BMWs. It does add a little bit of drama and excitement. There's also a Boost paddle behind the steering wheel for 10 seconds of maximum power and torque.

Handling is very secure and assured. The i5 has classic BMW meaty steering and is easy to place on the road. It has some dynamic skill and does offer a fair bit of driver engagement. Yet you can feel it shifting its considerable weight in fast cornering. A BMW i4 is more fun in this way.

Boot space in the new i5
Boot space in the new i5

During my test in a very cold January, the average consumption was about 19-23kWh per 100 kilometres, which translates to a real world driving range of 370-430 kilometres. A heat pump comes as standard and there is also a few levels of regenerative braking.

When it does come to charging, the i5 comes with an 11kW on board AC. DC fast charging is possible up to 205kW for a 10 to 80% charge in 30 minutes.

Did you like it?

BMW has pulled off quite a feat with the new electric i5. It's a very convincing member of the new 5 Series range, offering excellent comfort and refinement befitting of an executive car yet retaining a desirable profile packed full of the brand's latest digital tech. It's modern, sporty and very expensive - but for 5 Series buyers ready to go electric, this car offers a smooth transition.

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The new BMW i5 is a fun to drive electric saloon with great presence
The new BMW i5 is a fun to drive electric saloon with great presence

The BMW iX1 on test for Changing Lanes

BMW iX1 Review (2024)

Read Caroline's BMW iX1 review for everything you need to know about buying BMW's compact electric SUV.

BMW has launched a new generation of the brand's popular X1 and there's a full electric version for the very first time – the new BMW iX1.

It rivals premium electric SUVs like the Volvo XC40 Recharge, Audi Q4 e-tron and Mercedes-Benz EQA.

It's now available on the Irish market in two 'flavours' - the eDrive20 from about €52,000 on the road with range up to 473km (WLTP) or the more powerful dual motor xDrive30 priced from about €66,000 with a range up to 436km (WLTP).

Let's take a closer look.

The BMW iX1 on test for Changing Lanes
The BMW iX1 on test for Changing Lanes

What's so special about the BMW iX1?

BMW is rapidly expanding its range of full electric models like the iX, i4, i7 and newly launched i5. But the market still loves SUVs, particularly compact ones. The iX1 gives BMW lovers a relatively affordable way to get into one of the brand's electric SUVs.

The styling is brilliant too. The iX1 gets a big tick for desirability. There's also very little to distinguish the fuel powered X1 from the battery powered iX1.

So that means a pleasantly boxy stance, with typical BMW design cues like the large square kidney grille. Flush door handles and air curtains improve aerodynamic efficiency.

There are a few different trim lines - Sport, xLine and M Sport - which tweak the look somewhat. But overall this is a very handsome electric SUV, with a bit of coolness and dynamism to it - particularly in the M Sport trim.

The standard wheel size is 17-inch (or 18-inch on M Sport), with the option to upgrade to 19s or 20s.

Being a BMW, it should be good to drive too.

The iX1 is a compact electric SUV from BMW
The iX1 is a good-looking compact electric SUV from BMW

Driving the iX1

The iX1 eDrive20 uses a single electric motor to drive the front wheels, with a respectable 204hp and a range of up to 473km (WLTP).

For more performance, you will want to step up to the xDrive30. It adds a motor to the rear axle for a combined power output of 313hp. 0-100 km/h is a rapid 5.6 seconds, though the official range drops to 436 km (WLTP).

Yet the iX1 is an absolute joy to drive, feeling nippy and agile in all driving situations. It is also incredibly smooth, part of its premium edge. There is a Boost paddle behind the steering wheel that gives the driver 10 seconds of maximum power and torque. It's a little bit of a gimmick but fun nonetheless.

Comfort and refinement levels are good, though not quite as luxurious as the BMW i4. There is road noise at high speeds and the M Sport model on 20-inch wheels I tested was firm over any joints or imperfections in the tarmac.

Though not quite as fun to drive, a Volvo XC40 Recharge seems better resolved overall in this manner.

The interior of the new BMW iX1 xDrive30
The interior of the new BMW iX1 xDrive30

Still it's reasonably efficient for what it is, with consumption averaging at about 18.1 kWh per 100 kilometres during my time with the car. That works out at about 357 kilometres of driving on a full charge from the 64.7kWh battery (usable capacity).

AC charging is up to 11kW, while DC fast charging is possible up to 130kW for an 80% battery charge in about 30 minutes.

Inside the BMW iX1

The iX1 has a longer wheelbase than the model it replaces so it feels a bit roomer inside. It's still quite a compact vehicle but headroom and legroom is generous enough - though two will be most comfortable in the back seat. There's a 490-litre boot, which is impressive for a compact electric SUV.

The dashboard design and cabin layout is quite different to the model it replaces. The focus is on new digital tech with the BMW Curved Display making a glamourous debut.

The cabin of the previous X1 was looking quite dated by the end of its lifecycle but it had a terrific build and posh feel to it. This one is more contemporary but it's lost a bit of the upmarket feel of the previous generation - though the Oyster Vernasca leather upholstery was a nice option.

Rear seating in the iX1
Rear seating in the iX1

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard. The control display is quite minimalist with a move towards less buttons. There's no iDrive controller on the floating centre console but the voice control works better than ever. Even the ventilation controls are accessed from the screen - but there is a handy shortcut to the climate menu always present.

Wireless smartphone charging also features though I found it hard to sustain a charge as my phone kept moving around in the holder.

Did you like it?

The BMW iX1 is an expensive but very trendy compact electric SUV. It looks great and is genuinely fun to drive. It's also surprisingly efficient so all the little aero design tweaks have certainly worked wonders to give owners a decent amount of range between battery charges.

It's practical for its size and has come on in strides when it comes to design. The cabin has gone very tech-focused but lost a little of its posh charm along the way. Yet it's still a very desirable package overall and easily one of the best of its class.

Model tested: BMW iX1 xDrive30 M Sport
Price: 
€67,780
Battery:
64.7 kWh
Range: 436 kilometres (WLTP)
Power: 313 hp
Torque: 494 Nm
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 5.6 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The new BMW iX1 is expected in Ireland in early 2023
The BMW iX1 is a sporty and practical electric SUV

The new BMW iX1 is expected in Ireland in early 2023

BMW iX1 Review

The new BMW iX1 will arrive in Ireland in early 2023 and joins a burgeoning line-up of electric BMWs including the BMW i4, iX and iX3.

The launch of the new iX1 coincides with a new generation of the popular BMW X1, which is also available with petrol and diesel engines, as well as next generation BMW plug-in hybrid technology that is capable of up to about 89 kilometres of electric driving alone.

The new iX1 is the brand's first electric compact SUV and will go on sale priced from €63,995.

So what does the new iX1 have to offer Irish new car buyers? Caroline travelled to Munich with BMW to drive the new iX1 ahead of its official arrival in Ireland.

The new BMW iX1 is expected in Ireland in early 2023
The new BMW iX1 is expected in Ireland in early 2023

Styling

The iX1 looks great with a solid, muscular look that sits well on its compact frame. It looks like a genuine member of BMW's X range of SUVs, with modern sleek surfacing and trademark BMW design cues like the large, square kidney grille and new LED light clusters front and rear. All versions of the new BMW iX1 and X1 look similar, with the iX1 distinguished by a closed kidney grille and blue trim, which can be deselected to leave just a subtle blue outline to the BMW badge.

Improving efficiency has been a key part of the development of the new iX1 and X1 so features like the air curtains at the front and new flush door handles are designed to help improve aerodynamics. Buyers will be able to choose from xLine and M Sport trim lines across the new iX1 range. xLine models are more ruggedly styled, while M Sport models are the sportiest with a cleaner and more urban look. Alloy wheel sizes vary from 17-inch to 20-inch for the very first time. There's a range of paint options available including a new ‘frozen’ paint option from BMW Individual.

Interior

The new iX1 and X1 get a new generation BMW interior that looks a lot more modern than the previous generation of the X1. The BMW Curved Display is a stunning new feature that comes from other new BMWs like the i4 and new 3 Series. Two digital screens come together to give a fashionable widescreen effect, with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. The control display uses the latest BMW Operating System 8 so there are less buttons and the voice control works better than before. Even the ventilation controls are accessed from the screen. Wireless smartphone charging also features.

The interior of the new BMW iX1 xDrive30
The interior of the new BMW iX1 xDrive30

The quality of the cabin is excellent with lots of plush materials and some more rugged design cues like large grab handles and textured decorative inserts in the doors. There’s also a new floating armrest with storage and a new rocker switch for the gear selection. All together, it's a stylish and comfortable cabin for the new iX1 and X1.

Practicality

The iX1 is well-designed so it feels roomy inside for a compact SUV. There's no difference in cabin space between the electric iX1 and petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid versions of the X1. In fact, a longer wheelbase in this new generation means it feels a bit roomier inside than the previous X1. In the back there's plenty of legroom and headroom for adults, and an almost flat floor making it more comfortable for a middle seat passenger. Fuel versions of the X1 have the largest boot at an impressive 540 litres. The iX1 only loses about 50 litres, and the 490-litre boot remains very practical for an electric compact SUV.

Battery

The BMW iX1 xDrive30 uses a 64.7kWh battery, with a projected range of up to 440 kilometres (WLTP) on a single battery charge. There are two electric motors, one on each axle, giving the best performance of the range with a power output of 313hp and the 0 to 100 km/h sprint done in just 5.7 seconds.

The new iX1 will offer a range of up to about 440 kilometres on a single charge
The new iX1 will offer a range of up to about 440 kilometres on a single charge

Charging

DC rapid charging is possible up to 127 kW, so you could charge the battery from 10 to 80% in about 29 minutes. An 11kW AC on-board charger is also standard.

On the road

The BMW iX1 feels great from behind the wheel. It's swift with the full 313hp possible to access in short bursts from a 'Boost' paddle on the steering wheel along with some augmented sound to add to the fun and drama of it! It's a heavy car but the iX1 does a good job of feeling athletic and supple on the road - we wouldn't expect anything less from BMW. There's some lean in the corners but matched with superb grip, the iX1 turns out to be quite a natural and engaging drive for a compact electric SUV. The electric powertrain suits it well, offering a quieter and more refined drive than the X1 diesel for example.

Pricing 

The new BMW iX1 is available from €63,995. Petrol versions start from about €46,415 for the X1 sDrive20i (170hp) Sport and from about €47,185 for the X1 sDrive18d (150hp) Sport. The X1 xDrive23i (218hp) xLine is available from €56,815 and the X1 xDrive23d (211hp) xLine is available from €54,635. The X1 xDrive25e (245hp) plug-in hybrid will be available from €50,610 and can be driven electric for a range of up to about 89 kilometres alone. There's also an xDrive30e (326hp) plug-in hybrid available from €55,755. M Sport models are available from €53,465.

Rear seating in the iX1
Rear seating in the iX1

Summary

The new BMW iX1 is one of the most eagerly anticipated new models of 2023. It will be a formidable contender in the market for premium compact SUVs. It scores high for desirability with its handsome styling and sporty handling making it one of the nicest electric SUVs to drive. What's more, the new generation BMW interior is brimming with technology and is comfortable and spacious for a family SUV.

Petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid versions package much of the new X1's charm but it's the iX1 that feels like the right car at the right time for the growing market for upmarket electric SUVs.

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The new BMW iX1 will be one of the most eagerly anticipated new cars of 2023
The new BMW iX1 will be one of the most eagerly anticipated new cars of 2023

The new BMW 3 Series will arrive in Ireland before the end of the year

BMW 3 Series Review (2023)

The BMW 3 Series is an icon of the BMW range with over 16 million sold to date in its 45-year history. The G20 3 Series arrived in Ireland in 2019 and now has been updated to keep it competitive in the compact executive class against rivals such as the latest Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Audi A4. Subtle updates to styling and the addition of some new colours enhance the handsome 3 Series, but the most welcome changes take place in the cabin.

Caroline travelled to Munich with BMW Ireland to drive the latest 3 Series.

The new BMW 3 Series will arrive in Ireland before the end of the year
The new BMW 3 Series will arrive in Ireland before the end of the year

Styling

BMW has made a few small changes to the styling of the 3 Series - a subtle refining of the car's classic good looks. Sold in Ireland as a Saloon or a Touring (estate), at the front the kidney grille has been redesigned with a slightly different contour and the addition of new vertical double bars. The grille hasn't grown in size like some other BMW models. Available in Sport or M Sport trim levels, there are some different trim elements depending on which version you go for. The standard full-LED headlights now have smoother edges and feature new inverted L shaped daytime running lights. Boomerang-shaped air intakes at each side of the front bumper add more sporty definition, while the large central intake in M Sport models has a new honeycomb pattern. At the back there is a more pronounced rear apron emphasising the 3 Series’ sporty stance.

Sport models get 17-inch alloy wheels, while M Sport get 18-inch. Top of the range BMW Performance models come with 19-inch alloy wheels and 20-inch are now available through BMW M Performance Parts. The M Sport Pro Pack for M Sport models adds a black kidney grille surround, black chrome tailpipes, red brake callipers with M logo, and a black M rear spoiler for the saloon models. New colours include Skyscraper Grey, and M Brooklyn Grey - exclusive to the M Sport - as well as several ‘frozen’ metallic matte finishes.

The interior of the updated 3 Series - just fabulous!
The interior of the updated 3 Series - just fabulous!

Interior

Inside, the 3 Series cabin has been modernised with the addition of the new BMW Curved Display for the very first time. We've seen this in some other new generation BMWs like the iX and i4, and it's welcome addition to the cabin of the 3 Series. It looks sleek and high-tech, and gives a stunning widescreen effect. Using the latest BMW operating system 8, it now also responds better to voice commands. The climate controls are accessed through the screen - the manual knobs and switches are gone. But a shortcut on the screen means they are easy to access quickly. Other new features include a rocker switch for the gear selection and sporty paddles on the steering wheel are now standard across the range.

Elsewhere, the quality of the interior is excellent. It feels like a luxury car inside with lots of soft-touch materials and a variety of finishes including Sensatec synthetic leather seats in a number of colours.

Practicality

Rear seat passengers can enjoy the new standard fit tri-zone climate control, though that large transmission tunnel makes the rear bench more comfortable for two rather than three. In terms of boot volume, there's actually not much between the Saloon and the Touring, though the Touring naturally has easier access for loading and unloading. Opt for the 330e hybrid, and bootspace is reduced from 480 litres in the standard saloon to 375 litres. Petrol and diesel versions of the 3 Series Touring offer 500 litres of space or 410 litres in the 330e.

Some mild styling tweaks for the latest 3 Series
Some mild styling tweaks for the latest 3 Series

Engines

The 3 Series is available with petrol and diesel engines, some with mild hybrid technology, and as a plug-in hybrid. The 318d entry level diesel is no longer on sale, so the long-standing 320d with 190hp from a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder will be your best diesel option. All versions of the 3 Series now come with an 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. The 330e plug-in hybrid accounts for over 50% of 3 Series sales in Ireland and can be driven electric for up to about 60 kilometres.

On the road

The 3 Series is still a classic rear wheel drive car, but xDrive all-wheel drive is available across the range too. The top of the range BMW Performance models, the six-cylinder M340i (374hp) and M340d (340hp) offer stunning performance aided by a bespoke suspension, M Sport differential, sport transmission, rear-wheel drive focused xDrive, bespoke exhaust system, launch control and a sprint function. The M340i offers milder looks and performance than an M3 but what a car. The 3.0-litre, six cylinder engine is legendary, delivering power with urgency to a beautiful accompaniment of pops and bangs from the bespoke exhaust. The steering is ultra-precise, the car bounds around corners like a true athlete - an elite one.

Back in the 320d Touring, and it was a chance to revisit a more standard 3 Series experience. The 320d offers some of the best economy figures of the range, while offering good refinement on the move. BMW didn't have to tweak the handling - the 3 Series still leaves rivals behind with the level of engagement and agility it offers.

No matter which version you go for, the 3 Series offers class-leading handling, feeling sharp and more driver-focused on the road than rivals. M Sport models come with a sports suspension (except the 330e plug-in hybrid) and do ride a bit firmer than more comfort-biased rivals like the new C-Class.

Rear seating in the 3 Series
Rear seating in the 3 Series

Pricing 

The latest BMW 3 Series starts from €52,440 for the 330e hybrid and the 320i petrol. The 320d now starts from €54,130. The range-topping, high-performance M340d xDrive and M340i xDrive are available from €83,870 and €89,120 respectively. There are two trim level, Sport and M Sport.

Summary

The BMW 3 Series is an icon of the BMW range. You don't mess with an icon but the latest round of styling updates give the 3 Series a sportier and more mature look.

Inside, the 3 Series benefits from the new curved display.  It brings the 3 Series in line with other models in the BMW range and adds a contemporary finish to the cabin. But it's still a gorgeous cabin, driver-focused with lots of good quality materials.

On the road, the 3 Series remains one of the most engaging to drive compact premium saloons. The line-up has been streamlined but the well-placed 330e and 320d should remain high on the shortlist.

Not a major update for the 3 Series but enough to keep it a front runner in its class thanks to its classic good looks, sporty drive and cabin experience.

The BMW 3 Series remains a great choice of compact executive saloon
The BMW 3 Series remains a great choice of compact executive saloon

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The BMW i4 on test for Changing Lanes!

BMW i4 Review

Read Caroline's BMW i4 review for everything you need to know about buying BMW's new electric car in Ireland.

BMW has been on a 'charge' to electrification with the arrival of many new plug-in hybrids and full electric models in recent months. BMW's 'i' family is growing with the arrival of the BMW iX3, iX and now this, the BMW i4!

The BMW i4 is arguably the most interesting of them all, certainly for people who enjoy driving. According to BMW, the i4 is the brand’s first electric vehicle focused squarely on driving dynamics.

There are two versions available from launch: the BMW i4 eDrive40 tested for Changing Lanes, and the i4 M50 with even more performance worthy of the famous BMW 'M' badge.

The i4 eDrive40 goes on sale in Ireland priced from €65,505. Let's take a closer look.

The BMW i4 on test for Changing Lanes!
The BMW i4 on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the new BMW i4?

The new BMW i4 is a little bit different to other electric BMWs that have come to market recently, like the iX3 and the iX - both SUVs.

The i4 has been designed as a sporty, four-door 'Gran Coupé', making it the real style icon of the BMW i range. This car is just beautiful to look at, with the same timeless good looks of a classic 3 Series or 5 Series. It might look quite like a saloon with its elongated rear end but in fact it's a hatchback - just lift the boot and you will understand. But for sure the 'Gran Coupé' moniker is posher!

From the front, the new i4 bears the brand's signature kidney grille flanked by slim headlights. Colour accents in blue feature in the lights and around the badge if you look closely, a characteristic linking all electric BMWs of this generation. But certainly the styling of the new i4 doesn't scream 'electric', which is a good thing.

M Sport versions like the car on test for Changing Lanes (from €67,345) look the best with 18-inch alloy wheels, M Sport exterior bodystyling, and glossy black exterior trim.

Inside, the i4 has a latest generation BMW cabin with a showstopping curved digital display and exquisite quality worthy of a premium car.

Powered by an 80.7 kWh battery, BMW says over 500 kilometres of driving is possible on a single battery charge. So you needn't really worry about range. But it's the way this car handles that really impresses.

The BMW i4 uses a 80.7kWh battery
The BMW i4 uses a 80.7kWh battery that can potentially return over 500 kilometres on a full charge

Inside the BMW i4

M Sport versions have leather upholstery and an M Sport branded leather steering wheel. The main focal point of the cabin is now the 12.3-inch information display and 14.9-inch control display that combine to give a stunning widescreen effect, very fashionable in the motor industry at the moment. It certainly moves the game on for BMW interiors and is easy to use and navigate.

Yet there is a familiar feeling to this i4 cabin. The quality is excellent throughout. The driving position can be low and sporty. There is a small bit of use of blue accents inside to highlight this car's membership of the BMW i family. But it's subtle and does not distract at all from what is a wonderful cabin experience in a premium electric car.

The BMW i4 is a Gran Coupé so open those frameless doors and you'll find seating for five. However, there is a large transmission tunnel in the rear so it's probably more suited to two adults in the back. There is some compromise to headroom for the sake of that sloping roofline. It was all worth it.

The boot comes with a powered tailgate and opens just like a hatchback to reveal 470 litres of space. There's no 'frunk' under the bonnet but the i4 can store its cables away neatly in a space at the side of the boot.

The interior of the BMW i4 M Sport
The interior of the BMW i4 M Sport - just gorgeous

Driving the i4

BMW has years of experience creating sporty premium cars and the i4 certainly got the memo. It was designed from the onset to be sporty and engaging, which influenced the design and placing of all the components to make the best of it.

Yes acceleration is rapid, even in this eDrive40 variant. It takes just 5.7 seconds to get to 100 km/h, and the i4 is always ready to respond quickly. Yet, the i4 just feels marvellous on the road. In the eDrive40, a single motor sends 340hp to the rear wheels and the new i4 handles like a classic rear wheel drive BMW. Praise be.

The steering is tactile, and there is a grace to the way this car handles the tarmac that belies what you might think possible of an electric car. There's very few cars in this price range at the moment that can compete with the i4 when it comes to driver engagement, even the Polestar 2 or Tesla Model 3. It's also sublimely comfortable.

In real world driving over 400 kilometres seems possible even with high speed motorway driving. The i4 was efficient during my time with it, averaging about 18.5kWh per 100 kilometres. Being low and sleek certainly helps.

The i4 can charge up to 205kW, getting to 80% battery charge in about 30 minutes. Up to 11kW AC charging is possible.

The BMW i40 M50 if you want even more power - 536hp
The BMW i40 M50 if you want even more power - 536hp and all wheel drive

Did you like it?

The BMW i4 is an excellent car. So good, that you will forget it's electric. It's a car you buy because you love driving.

For sure, there is still a premium to be paid for an electric car like the i4. But for the refinement and rapid acceleration, there is enough here to abandon your premium petrol or diesel saloon once and for all.

An SUV might be more practical, but the i4 is sexier by far. Sporty premium electric cars don't get much better than this.

The BMW i4 compromises none of the style and quality the brand was built upon. It handles beautifully and with well over 400 kilometres possible between charges, that's a lot of fun driving in utter comfort.

The interior quality belongs to a car of this price also and the new digital technology looks great.

If you're thinking of buying an i4, you probably should!

The BMW i4 is fun to drive and comfortable too
The BMW i4 is fun to drive and comfortable too

Model tested: BMW i40 eDrive40 M Sport
Price: 
€67,345
Battery:
80.7 kWh
Range: 493-590 km (WLTP)
Power: 340hp
Torque: 430Nm
Top speed: 190km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 5.7 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes


The new BMW iX3 on test for Changing Lanes!

BMW iX3 Review

Read Caroline's BMW iX3 review for everything you need to know about buying BMW's electric SUV in Ireland.

BMW has strengthened its portfolio of electric vehicles considerably with the arrival of the new BMW iX3, an electric version of the popular BMW X3 mid-size SUV. This year has also seen the launch of the flagship electric iX large SUV and the BMW i4 electric sports saloon.

The new BMW iX3 on test for Changing Lanes!
The new BMW iX3 on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the BMW iX3?

But there's a familiarity to the iX3 that's sure to help it penetrate the market here, a market that is becoming ever more receptive to battery power.

With pricing starting from €74,815, the BMW iX3 is perched predictably in the higher end of the market. But in recent years rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz have been bringing their electric flagship SUVs to market, spearheading change that's rippling throughout every corner of the industry.

The development of the BMW iX3 was based on the experience amassed by the BMW i brand since 2011.

The iX3 is a pipe dream for many, but it's surprisingly effective and desirable for its market with robust range from a 80 kWh battery. Official data says the range is up to 460 km (WLTP) on a single charge, but most drivers won't emulate quite that. Still over 300 km is achievable and there's a lot of comfort and confidence driving on a full charge because of that.

The iX3 uses an 80 kWh battery
The iX3 uses an 80 kWh battery

Visually there are a few little hints to the iX3's electric underpinnings. Granted on test is the fully loaded 'Premier Edition Pro' that looks equally smart and sinister with bespoke modifications to the front and rear apron, enclosed front kidney grille and 20" black aerodynamic alloy wheels. But it's stout and squat like a good old-fashioned BMW SUV, many of which had found a home in Ireland since the X5 started it all.

Inside the iX3

Slipping inside the new BMW iX3 is a very pleasant experience. The cabin quality is excellent, the design sturdy and reassuring. There's no compromise in quality, everything looks and feels great, like any other X3 in the range. There's a full digital experience with a digital instrument cluster for the driver. It's a proper luxury liner.

The interior of the car also contains blue accents as a reference to the electric drive system. These can be found on both the Start/Stop button and the gear selector lever. Other model-specific cues include the model lettering on the centre console, door sill plates bearing the BMW i logo, the screens in the cockpit and Control Display adapted to the presence of an electric drive system as well as the standard-fitted ambient lighting, which provides blue illumination in its default setting.

Standard equipment for the new BMW iX3 includes BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto preparation and the digital services from BMW Connected Charging.

The interior of the new BMW iX3
The interior of the new BMW iX3

The BMW iX3 Premier Edition includes 20” black aerodynamic wheels, automatic tailgate, adaptive suspension and panoramic sunroof. Vernasca leather is available in a choice of four colours, along with Sensatec dashboard, sun protect glazing, ambient lighting and electric seats. Additional standard features include wireless phone charging, heated front seats and the brand’s very latest driver assistance technology, including Driving Assistant Professional, Parking Assistant and BMW Live Cockpit Professional.

Additional standard features on the Premier Edition Pro include BMW head-up display, Harman Kardon surround sound, gesture control, Parking Assistant Plus, automatic high beam assistant, and lumbar support.

Is it practical?

The iX3 remains a practical family SUV with little compromise on space inside the vehicle. The driver, the front passenger and the three occupants in the rear have almost exactly the same levels of space as in a conventionally powered BMW X3 variant.

Boot capacity also matches that of combustion-engined BMW X3 models, while the boot floor lifts up to reveal a stowage compartment for the charging cable or luggage compartment cover. Thanks to the 40:20:40 split/folding rear seat backrest, load space can be expanded as required. The load capacity of the new BMW iX3 is between 510 and 1,560 litres.

The BMW iX3 is capable of fast charging up to 150 kW
The BMW iX3 is capable of fast charging up to 150 kW

The new iX3 is capable of charging at 150 kW at DC fast-charging stations, with recharging from 0 to 80 per cent taking just over 30 minutes in these instances. When using AC terminals, there's single-phase charging available at up to 7.4 kW and three-phase charging at up to 11 kW.

Driving the BMW iX3

So is it still the ultimate driving machine with a battery? There's a healthy 286 hp and 400 Nm from a newly designed fifth-generation BMW eDrive electric motor. But that will be needed to haul the hulking iX3 at over 2.2 tonnes. Still the iX3 manages a 0 to 100 kmh sprint in just 6.8 seconds.

Power is transferred to the rear wheels and adaptive suspension fitted as standard optimises sporting responses and comfort. There's no four wheel drive option and ground clearance is not a strong point so don't try anything too adventurous with it.

The BMW iX3 has a unique rear axle subframe and bespoke chassis integration to help it meet the particular demands on a pure electric vehicle. The iX3 feels good on the road with the comfort and refinement we expect from a premium SUV. Handling and grip is fine. But the weight of the battery and its distribution appears to take the edge off BMW's famed sporty handling characteristics. The steering remains quite neutral too.

BMW enters the arms race with the iX3
BMW enters the electric premium SUV arms race with the iX3

Did you like it?

More than I thought I would. The iX3 is a brilliant electric SUV. Yes you pay for it but the quality and execution of this car is top notch. It remains comfortably familiar BMW territory - a beautiful interior, classic BMW design cues, and utterly seducing from the moment you slip behind the wheel and put it in Drive.

With over 300 km possible on one battery charge, I did many journeys with no charging required between them, including motorway journeys.

While ultimate 'ev' driving machine might be a stretch too far for this reviewer, comfort and refinement remain reassuringly premium and a good omen for the future of electric BMWs. The iX3 is another surprise hit of the year for Changing Lanes.

The BMW iX3 is a capable and desirable electric SUV
The BMW iX3 is a capable and desirable electric SUV

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW iX3 Premier Edition Pro
Price: 
€76,067
Battery:
80 kWh
Power:  286 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
Top speed: 180 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 6.8 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year


In this review we test the Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series

Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series: Which Is Better?

In this review we test the Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series
In this review we test the Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series

Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series: Which is better?

Thinking of buying a new mid size executive saloon in Ireland in 2022? In this Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series comparison review, we are going to take a closer look at two titans of the executive car park – the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series. In 2019, BMW released an all new generation of the 3 Series, while in late 2019, a revised Audi A4 range hit dealer showrooms in Ireland.

The G20 BMW 3 Series sports a gentle evolution in styling of a very familiar silhouette. It’s the classic German 3-box saloon. Proportions have been revised, styling modernised more in line with the 5 Series from a class above. But the hallmarks of the 3 Series remain – the strong BMW kidney grille at the front and a road hugging sporty stance teasing the class-leading handling ability the BMW 3 Series will always be inextricably linked to.

In the Audi corner, the A4 does a fine job of commanding the executive car park. Timeless design, clean lines and elegant detailing are what make buyers fall in love with the Audi A4 quicker than you can say ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’. The 2019 facelift enhanced what was already a smart, contemporary design of a premium saloon car.

The interior of the latest 2020 Audi A4
The interior of the latest 2020 Audi A4

LED headlights are standard on both the A4 and the 3 Series ranges. Trim levels give a classic look or a sporty one in both the 3 Series and A4 ranges. This reviewer prefers the sporty look bestowed by BMW’s M Sport trim or Audi’s S line. Larger alloy wheels, meaner body kits and other exotic details make these models a little bit special (and more expensive).

So which car has the best interior?

The latest generation BMW 3 Series has a new interior that has been delightfully modernised with the latest technology features and infotainment. The material quality is excellent with beautiful leather upholstery available as standard on higher spec M Sport models. We loved the sporty M Sport steering wheel and new digital instrument panel, the latter which comes as standard across the range. SE and Sport models get a new 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, while M Sport gets the larger 10.25-inch with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, gesture and voice control. You can also control using the iDrive controller on the centre console.

In the cabin of the Audi A4, you can have a similar digital and techy experience. The cabin design is even better in the Audi A4. Though this car debuted in 2015, it still looks really elegant and contemporary inside. The 2019 update has made the A4 even better again with the latest 10.1-inch high resolution MMI touch display tilted slightly towards the driver. This set up comes as standard and keeps the Audi A4 at the races. A digital instrument panel is an extra however.

The 2020 Audi A4 S line
The 2020 Audi A4 S line

How practical are they?

The 3 Series has a longer wheelbase than the car it replaces and cabin comfort has been improved for passengers. There is still quite an intrusive transmission tunnel in the middle but overall there is more shoulder room in the front and extra legroom in the back. BMW has also increased the height of the door opening so getting in and out of the car is easier for rear passengers. There is not much between these two cars in that they will fit four adults comfortably. The boot volume is the same in both the A4 and the 3 Series - 480 litres. Both cars are available as more practical estate cars – the Audi A4 Avant and BMW 3 Series Touring.

Engine options

In Ireland the new BMW 3 Series is sold with petrol and diesel engines, and there is also a new BMW 330e plug-in hybrid. On the petrol side there is a 2.0-litre petrol badged 318i, 320i or 330i depending on horsepower; there are also 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre diesels (badged 318d, 320d, 330d). There's also a top end 340i and 340d models, which also feature BMW ‘xdrive’ four wheel drive. My pick is the popular BMW 320d with 2.0-litre diesel engine and 190 hp for a mixture of power, refinement and economy. 8-speed automatics and 6-speed manual gearboxes are available. However the 330e hybrid is another good choice in the range.

The interior of the 2020 BMW 3 Series
The interior of the 2020 BMW 3 Series

The Audi A4 is also available with a range of petrol and diesel engines, however at this time there is no A4 plug-in hybrid to match the popular BMW 330e. Power comes from a 2.0-litre petrol engine with 150 or 190 hp, or a 2.0-litre diesel with 136, 163 or 190 hp. A 6-speed manual gearbox or S tronic automatic are also available. Audi’s quattro four wheel drive is available on the 2.0-litre 190hp diesel. The 2.0-litre diesel with 163hp is a popular choice in this large executive car segment and very economical.

Why not try these for a test drive?

Audi A4 35 TDI 163hp S tronic S Line. Fuel consumption quoted at 5.4-5.7 litres/100km.

BMW 320d 190hp M Sport. Fuel consumption quoted at 4.4-4.7 litres/100km.

Driving them

On the road both the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series offer premium levels of comfort and refinement. They slice through the air seamlessly and silently. The Audi A4 seems just that little better in this regard with refinement and comfort being key pillars of this model. But that’s not to say that the BMW 3 Series is bad in this particular area. However the BMW 3 Series is a lot more fun and engaging to drive than the Audi A4, even as a basic four pot diesel. The steering is sporty and tactile, the grip and poise sensational. It’s the one that never ceases to entertain.

We'll always love a drive in the BMW 3 Series
We'll always love a drive in the BMW 3 Series

Equipment

For the most up to date pricing for the Irish market, please check the manufacturer's website!

The BMW 3 Series comes in three trims SE, Sport and M Sport. The entry level SE model has 17″ alloys, LED headlights, BMW Light Carpet, interior ambient lighting, reversing camera, electric folding rear view mirrors, three-zone air conditioning and enhanced acoustic glazing. There’s also a leather sport steering wheel and BMW Live Cockpit plus, with 8.8-inch central instrument cluster.

The Audi A4 comes in SE or S Line trim. Standard equipment includes heated, electrically adjustable front seats, tri zone climate control, the 10.1-inch colour display, smartphone interface, 18“ alloys, LED headlights and rear lamps, rear view camera, Audi Drive Select, keyless go, front and rear parking sensors, and cruise control.

The Audi A4 shines for its refinement and elegance
The Audi A4 shines for its refinement and elegance

So which are you buying?

This is a very tough call. When you are buying a car at this level of the market, a few things are guaranteed: prestige, refinement, comfort and quality. The Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series deliver on these fronts. Under the skin, the BMW is the newer car here, however the Audi A4 2019 facelift means that you would be hard pressed to know it. The Audi A4 steals the show in terms of interior design and technology. It just is a nicer cabin to spend time in. However, beside the BMW 3 Series, the Audi A4 is fine but dull to drive. The 3 Series is really good to drive, engaging, athletic and supple. The Audi A4 is a classy, plush ride. So which will it be?

In light of our summation above, you won’t regret buying either car. But for this reviewer who loves driving, my money would be on the BMW 3 Series.

Caroline Kidd


The BMW X1 xDrive25e on test for Changing Lanes!

BMW X1 Hybrid Review

The BMW X1 xDrive25e on test for Changing Lanes!
The BMW X1 xDrive25e on test for Changing Lanes!

Read Caroline's BMW X1 plug-in hybrid review for everything you need to know about buying BMW's compact SUV in Ireland.

The BMW X1. The baby of the BMW X family of SUVs. For BMW, with a rich history in SUVs like the popular X5, the new brief required of the market was to beef up the compacts to satiate growing consumer demand for anything that looked at all like it might be good off-road!

The result was the X1, first launched in 2009, with a second generation model debuting in 2015. In 2019 the brand refreshed the car with some updated styling and the introduction of an all-new plug-in hybrid model.

Now the BMW X1 meets Changing Lanes for the first time. Excited, yes!

What's new for the BMW X1?

Plug-in hybrid is hot right now, you might have noticed. Now joining the X1’s range of petrol and diesel engines is the BMW X1 PHEV – aka the BMW X1 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid model.

The X1 range goes on sale from €40,775, with the plug in hybrid available from €45,790, while the sporty M Sport model on test retails from €47,287. There are four model variants available for the X1 - SE, Sport, xLine and M Sport - and each stands apart with its own unique looks and equipment to match.

The BMW X1 PHEV retails from €47,287 in Ireland
The BMW X1 PHEV retails from €47,287 in Ireland

The X1 has a stylish and upmarket presence. It’s not the most exciting or sporty BMW you ever set eyes upon, but with a softer, more friendly look to it. The M Sport version comes equipped with upgraded M Sport suspension and the M Aerodynamics package. Other features include heated front seats, folding exterior mirrors and Dakota Leather upholstery. The front apron, side skirts, wheel arch trim, diffuser and cladding on the BMW X1 M Sport come in body colour, with larger air intakes than other models.

Inside the BMW X1

The cabin of the BMW X1 is a comfortable and secure place to be. While this is an older generation BMW interior, the fit and finish of the car is truly special. It feels so upmarket and well-built. So classy!

This latest model incorporates the sixth generation of BMW’s iDrive system that introduces a touchscreen control for the Control Display alongside the iDrive Controller and optional intelligent voice control.

The X1 is a compact car but it feels spacious inside for this class of vehicle. Boot space is slightly compromised by the battery on board for the plug-in hybrid model, but it's not a huge impact and the boot does feel practical with a hatchback style opening for good access. There's 450 litres in total. A powered tailgate is available. Standard 40:20:40 split folding backrests allow the boot capacity to be increased to 1,470 litres.

The interior of the BMW X1
The interior of the BMW X1

What are my options?

The BMW X1 is powered by a range of three and four cylinder turbo engines, using either a front-wheel drive configuration or BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available. The petrol range starts with the 140 hp 1.5-litre sDrive18i. There is also a more powerful 2.0-litre X1 sDrive20i with 192 hp. The diesel range uses a 2.0-litre engine, and both the sDrive and the all-wheel drive xDrive18d models deliver 150 hp. The 190hp all-wheel-drive xDrive20d is at the top of the X1 range.

BMW is stepping up its electrification journey with the addition of new plug-in hybrids to familiar favourites of the range. The new X1 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid on test uses a 1.5-litre, three cylinder engine with a 9.7 kWh battery giving an electric range of up to 57 km. The petrol engine transfers its power to a 6-speed Steptronic transmission and drives the front wheels. The electric motor delivers its power to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. This makes for a hybrid specific all-wheel drive, which makes the X1 super agile! It grips the road exceptionally well, with 220 hp available.

The new BMW X1 PHEV uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine, battery and electric motor
The new BMW X1 PHEV uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine, battery and electric motor

Driving the BMW X1 Plug-in Hybrid

So beneath the quite demure looks, the X1 hybrid offers a lively drive and great handling. This is down to the car’s low centre of gravity, wide track, short overhangs, high level of body and chassis rigidity, and a suspension tuned well for comfort and agility. The xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system is linked with BMW’s DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) to keep oversteer or understeer in check, while the M Sport models add M Sport suspension for a sharper drive.

If you do a lot of town driving, the X1 PHEV is ideal as an introduction to electric motoring with up to 57 km available from a fully charged battery. From a wall box, the battery can be charged in just over 3 hours or in 5 hours from a conventional household socket. The charging socket is located under a separate flap on the front left side wall of the car.

Over a week of driving, my average fuel consumption was 7 litres per 100 kilometre. I failed to keep the battery topped up, so with more regular charging the X1 could be run more efficiently.

The X1 is a practical compact SUV with plug-in hybrid power
The X1 is a practical compact SUV with plug-in hybrid power

Did you like it?

The BMW X1 really surprised me. It’s a real high quality compact SUV, one with all of the class and refinement of a BMW wrapped up in a smaller (and chunkier) package like the X1.

It’s not the trendiest looking machine but the cabin may seduce you with its class, design and quality. It feels a little old school but in a reassuring way, like a good strong cup of tea!

This is a practical car with plenty of flexibility that gives it a headstart over the BMW 1 Series for example, and a different character.

Yet its nimble, compact and fun to drive. While there are petrol and diesel engines on offer, the X1 plug-in hybrid is a good option for urban drivers who can make use of that electric range, charge after every journey, and sample electric motoring for a limited range.

There is lots of power and it is super refined. So guess what? We really enjoyed driving the X1 at Changing Lanes!

BMW continues to expand plug-in hybrid range with new X1 PHEV
BMW continues to expand plug-in hybrid range with new X1 PHEV

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW X1 xDrive25e
Price:
€47,287
Engine: 
1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 220 hp
Torque: 385 Nm
Top speed: 193 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 6.9 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
43-48 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year


The new BMW 330e on test for Changing Lanes!

BMW 330e Review

The new BMW 330e on test for Changing Lanes!
The new BMW 330e on test for Changing Lanes!

Thinking of buying a new BMW 3 Series in Ireland. Read Caroline's BMW 330e review for everything you need to know about the hybrid 3 Series.

What happens when you mix plug-in hybrid power with the BMW 3 Series? It’s a question very much worth exploring as the German brand continues to launch a slew of new electrified models on the Irish market.

Badged 330e, the 3 Series hybrid has some history, debuting for the first time in Ireland back in 2016. Yet with an all-new generation of the 3 Series on sale since 2019, and a reworked 330e, it’s game on in the Changing Lanes test garage!

Driving the latest generation BMW 3 Series again is a reminder of a few magical days in 2019 spent with the 320d. A BMW 320d is a bit of a legend in its own right with a four cylinder diesel engine that delivers smart economy and plenty of fun behind the wheel.

What's so special about the BMW 330e?

But the 330e has proven its mettle in the 3 Series range, winning over its own quotient of buyers with its smooth petrol power and ability to plug in and charge up between drives, plus super low CO2 emissions meaning motor tax is just €140 per year.

In the new generation of the BMW 3 Series of course it’s ‘better’ all round. They don’t release these cars without some improvements!

The BMW 330e Hybrid goes on sale in Ireland from €48,894
The BMW 330e Hybrid goes on sale in Ireland from €48,894

Let’s recap on a few of the basics first. The BMW 3 Series range kicks off from €44,453 in Ireland for a petrol 318i, with a diesel 318d from €46,564 and the 320d range from €49,765. The 330e hybrid starts from €48,894.

The BMW 330e uses a 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine, battery and electric motor. Power output is a formidable 292 hp while there is 420 Nm of torque to play with. Yipee!

The BMW 330e is handsome. Super handsome. Finished in Portimao Blue and bejewelled with the M Sport trim elements, our 330e test car is sporty, muscular, and sophisticated.

Inside the BMW 3 Series

Inside the 3 Series has a wonderful interior that puts the driver competently in the centre of the action. This is a real driver’s car. Vernasca leather upholstery makes us feel comfortably executive, while the digital instrument panel, centre screen and iDrive system give the required touch of modernity. Material quality is excellent and this is a great car to spend time behind the wheel of!

The junior executive saloon will seat five with good sized footwells in the rear, though a large transmission tunnel eats into legroom for a middle passenger. Boot space is compromised somewhat in the 330e plug-in hybrid however, down about 100 litres to 375 litres to accommodate the battery.

The interior of the 2021 BMW 3 Series
The interior of the 2021 BMW 3 Series

Driving the BMW 330e

On the road, the 330e feels snappy and swift. Power delivery gets a professional finish. You wouldn’t expect anything less from a car wearing this badge. The 330e is as happy to cruise as it is to take on some corners. Rear wheel drive agility keeps things light and interesting behind the wheel. There’s plenty of grip and steering is direct. The set up is quite firm in this one, so rougher road surfaces do communicate more into the cabin. But on the smooth stuff, all is well.

Interestingly the car doesn’t feel quite as communicative in your hands as the 320d we tested previously. The electrified powertrain mutes the sensations somewhat. But the instant power delivery of the electric motor is immediately obvious. Boom!

But let’s not forget there is mighty wizardry at play here allowing you to slip this baby into electric mode and stealth mode slide around town on electric power alone for a range of up to 60 km. That’s more than before.

The plug-in hybrid models in the new BMW 3 Series owe their increased electric range to the latest advances in battery cell technology. Their lithium-ion batteries, designed specifically for each model and manufactured by the BMW Group, have a gross energy content of 12.0 kWh.

Using the electric range is best suited to low speed driving in town or short commutes, as the battery power will drain more rapidly at high speeds on the motorway for example. But I was lazy with the charging and still managed to post a good return on economy of 6.4 litres per 100 km.

It takes between 3 and 6 hours to charge the battery to full, depending on type of connection.

The 3 Series is a fun sports saloon
The 3 Series is a fun sports saloon

Did you like it?

BMW’s compact executive saloon gains even more power and flexibility in the 330e. The 330e gives options as we transition to more electrification, but even if you are not a frequent charger, the car performs on fuel like a decent petrol car.

There is an impressive fluidity to this car on the road, aided by the electric motor. Maybe not quite as sharp as a 320d for example. But it is a sporty car with a firm enough set up on the road.

It’s indeed a beautiful car, particularly in M Sport trim. We love the high quality interior, and that very meaty steering wheel.

The 3 Series is a legend and deservedly so!

The BMW 330e is a plug-in hybrid offering an all-electric drive up to 60 km
The BMW 330e is a plug-in hybrid offering an all-electric drive up to 60 km

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW 3 Series 330 e M Sport
Price: 
€49,082
Engine: 
2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 292 PS
Torque: 420 Nm
Top speed: 230 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 5.8 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
34 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year

 


The BMW 5 Series has been updated for 2021

BMW 530e Review

The BMW 5 Series has been updated for 2021
The BMW 5 Series has been updated - the brand's most popular model in Ireland

Caroline drives the the latest BMW 530e! The brand's large executive saloon now with plug-in hybrid power but is it any good? Read Caroline's BMW 530e review to find out.

What's so special about the BMW 5 Series?

The BMW 5 Series is unquestionably a stalwart of the BMW range and indeed the entire motor industry. Making a grand entrance comes simply to the 5 Series - it has been doing just that for well over 40 years.

The latest generation of the large executive classic launched here in Ireland back in 2017. That story ended with the 5 Series winning us over with its luxurious cabin and fun to drive character behind the wheel.

In 2020 the BMW 5 Series returned with a few tweaks to keep it competitive in its class. It's the 'facelifted' 5 we find here on test for Changing Lanes.

The 5 Series is BMW’s bestselling model in Ireland and the updated range goes on sale from €53,468 for a 520d diesel or from €53,803 for a 520i petrol.

What’s new for the BMW 5 Series?

Electrification moves up a gear with a revised 530e in 2021 – the plug-in hybrid 5 Series that’s capable of driving on pure electric power for a range of up to 58 km. It goes on sale from €59,822 and posts some very impressive performance figures while keeping CO2 emissions as low as 40g/km. Plug-in hybrid power is growing in popularity across the motor industry and indeed the BMW range, with many old favourites now getting the addition of a battery, electric motor and plug!

Elsewhere styling has been mildly tweaked and new equipment added. But the 5 Series in 2021 remains a gloriously handsome car that makes you feel like a boss! The BMW kidney grille is now bigger, flanked by slimmer LED headlights with two U-shaped daytime running lights.

The 5 Series goes on sale priced from €53,468
The 5 Series goes on sale priced from €53,468

In Ireland the new BMW 5 Series will be available in SE, M Sport and M Sport Edition trims. The M Sport package features new 19” and 20” wheels, while the new limited M Sport Edition comes with exclusive Individual metallic paint and unique 20” Air Performance wheels.

The front apron of both SE and M Sport cars has also been redesigned with larger and more pronounced air inlets. At the rear, the taillights have been redesigned with blackened glass. There’s also a redesigned rear apron, trapezoidal tailpipe finishers and a sportier mounted diffuser.

Inside the BMW 5 Series

The quality and comfort inside the 5 Series make it one of the most desirable large premium saloons on the market today. Yes, you will know you are behind the wheel of something expensive. There are many different trims and beautiful interior options you can choose from, which makes every 5 Series feel more individual and nothing short of luxurious! Leather upholstery is standard across the range and the test car had Ivory White Dakota leather. Material quality is just excellent everywhere.

New interior features include a larger 12.3” Central Information Display powered by the latest Operating System 7.0 with rotary controller, including BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant and smartphone integration. The new 5 Series also benefits from the latest camera- and radar-based driving assistant systems, including features like steering and lane-control assistant and active cruise control.

The interior feels large and welcoming with good width across the rear bench for three, through the transmission tunnel takes up a fair bit of space on middle passengers. Wouldn’t it be more realistic for two VIPS or executives?

In the 530e plug-in hybrid, boot space is somewhat compromised to accommodate the 12 kWh battery under the boot floor. But the floor remains flat and there is a decent 410 litres of space regardless.

The interior of the 2021 BMW 5 Series
The interior of the 2021 BMW 5 Series - luxury limo!

What are my engine options?

The 530e uses a 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine, battery and 80 kW electric motor, all combined with an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Plug-in hybrid is a big emerging trend in the BMW range with the brand adding many new plug-in hybrids across model ranges in the last 12 months. The 530e plug-in hybrid gets improved for 2021 with more power, torque and better efficiency, while a new 545e has also been added with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine. The 5 Series Touring is also available as a plug-in hybrid for the first time.

Other engine options include four and six cylinder petrol and diesel engines with mild-hybrid technology across the board to enhance performance, lower fuel consumption and improve driving comfort.

In 2017 we tested the classic BMW 520d 2.0-litre diesel at Changing Lanes and it never fails to impress with its refinement, power and economy.

Driving the BMW 530e

This time at Changing Lanes, it’s the turn of the petrol electric hybrid 530e. It is one of the most powerful of the range with 292 hp and 420 Nm of torque. This means it feels lively and flexible all the time, with a responsive throttle that marries beautifully with the 5 Series rear wheel drive dance through corners. This is a real thing. BMW make cars do this very well. They have been doing it for years. The 530e is lithe but we think the 520d we tested previously might have taken on the lateral challenges of corners a teeny bit better owing to the traditional combustion engine powertrain sans battery and electric motor.

Power is put to the road in a controlled, stately manner. It's the most fun large plug-in hybrid you will find in the executive car park! This is a super quiet, comfortable long distance cruiser. The steering is meaty with plenty of feedback for a tactile experience behind the wheel. Sport mode livens things up even more but you can optimise efficiency in the Hybrid mode and still enjoy this car.

Ideally, your plug-in hybrid should be charged regularly to get the best out of it and run it on electric power for the range of up to 58 km. Ideal for low speed trips around town. When you get out on to the motorway your battery power will drain fast. But the 530e still posted some very acceptable economy figures for what is a heavy car. Over a week of driving we averaged 6.7 litres per 100 km. And wow was this car good to drive on the motorway! For this generation of the 5 Series BMW paid particular attention to reducing interior noise levels.  The BMW 5 Series is forever stylish and fun to drive!The BMW 5 Series is forever stylish and fun to drive!

Did you like it?

We love the 5 Series at Changing Lanes. It has such class and presence, amazing pedigree and fun rear wheel drive handling.

The BMW handles superbly and feels alive in your hands like none of its competitors. The 530e adds hybrid power to the mix championing a silky smooth transmission and a new degree of silence to driving a 5 Series.

The 5 Series is ageing but still looks good. The interior is high quality with a reasonable digital upgrade helping keeping it up to date with competitors.

Diesel has been the default in this segment for a long time but the 530e is a successful alternative, offering buyers flexibility - but at a premium. We can't see the classic 520d being abandoned any time soon. It posts great economy, especially for high mileage and frequent motorway users. But whatever your preferred flavour of 5, you will find an amazing companion in the BMW 5 Series!

The new BMW 530e on test for Changing Lanes!
The new BMW 530e on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW 5 Series (530e) M Sport
Price: 
€66,996
Engine: 
2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 292 PS
Torque: 420 Nm
Top speed: 235 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 5.9 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
40 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year