For a striking sign of the times, picture the pre-drive presentation of the new BMW i5, which Autocar is attending inside the cavernous underground garage of a slick high-rise in Lisbon.
Given the i5 is in essence the very first pure-electric BMW 5 Series, this is a history-making moment. BMW development chief Frank Weber has been on stage, reminiscing about the three-speed E12-gen 5 Series owned by the parents of his best friend at high school – and how the two teenagers wouldn’t hesitate to commandeer it when the opportunity arose.
He then explains how, seven generations and half a century later, BMW is now “taking electrification to the business class” with this latest rendition of the 5 Series. Mercedes and Tesla may have something to say about that but it’s a reasonable statement. The latest 5 Series, codename G60, is the first of its lineage to extend to more than five metres (amazingly, it’s longer than the Bangle-era 7 Series) and from the get-go it spawns the i5, with up to 357 miles of claimed range.
The i5’s £74,105 entry-level pricing will also ensure a reassuring degree of exclusivity.
Weber then gets into the details, which is what we’ve been waiting for, though nobody is expecting revelations of earth-shaking magnitude. We already know all G60 derivatives – from mild-hybrid 520i to electric i5 and, next year, 700bhp-plus plug-in hybrid M5 – are based on a version of the CLAR platform that underpins the outgoing, and excellent, G30 5 Series.