All in a day's work for the Red Bull Drift Brothers.
Ahead of its imminent reveal, BMW has released the first official images of the new electric 5 Series Sedan, known as the i5, and it's also provided a glimpse of what high-performance versions can do in the hands of professional drifters.
Even though the luxury EV still dons a considerable amount of camouflage, the German automaker has also taken the opportunity to reveal details about the stringent development process, which included stints in the icy climate of the Arctic Circle. In February 2022, the newcomer was subjected to a challenging road trip from Munich to BMW's test center in Arjeplog, Sweden.
The 1,850-mile, five-day drive put the electric motors and battery pack to the test and gave engineers an opportunity to evaluate crucial functions like the heating and cooling systems for both the battery pack and the cabin. Thanks to the fifth-generation eDrive system (enhanced for the i5), BMW claims the charging times were kept brief along the way, with the battery providing a suitable long-distance driving range, even in freezing weather.
Cold weather has the ability to affect an EVs range, but independent tests have shown BMW electric vehicles can still achieve respectable figures in challenging conditions.
It may be a large electric luxury sedan, but the i5 is, first and foremost, a BMW. That means it needs to handle well and possess dynamic capabilities that exceed those of its rivals. Once the prototype had reached Arjeplog, engineers put the chassis, steering, and brakes to the test, using the myriad iced-over surfaces to exploit any chinks in the i5's armor.
As mentioned by BMW, the "groundwork for the authoritative, assured and characteristically sporty handling of the new i5 were already laid in the first test drives." Ever since it hit the scene in 1972, it has been the benchmark for what a midsized sports sedan should drive like. As it enters the electric era, there's no way BMW would abandon these key characteristics.
BMW engineers returned to Sweden to perfect the various chassis and powertrain systems. Again, the frozen lakes served as the perfect proving grounds, enabling test drivers to adjust the drive torque control system. Losing control of the i5 could prove challenging; the aforementioned control system, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), and near-actuator wheel slip function are interconnected and work together to prevent any hair-raising moments. The Red Bull Driftbrothers, Joe and Eli Hountondji, don't seem to have any issues sliding the electric sedans.
BMW says the i5 can handle snow and ice as well as any combustion-engined model it produces, and the electric 5er is promised to boast superb traction and stability during cornering and braking, as well as when pulling away.
Prior to its second visit to the Arctic Circle, i5 prototypes were set loose around Munich and Dingolfing. Again, a superb motoring experience was the driving factor behind these tests, with engineers able to perfect the power delivery and focus on the acoustic properties in a series of different conditions.
The electric setup and chassis also endured reliability and durability evaluations, with the electric i5 sent out to the Alpine foothills for good measure. Here, the demanding road and weather conditions place extra stress on crucial components and are sure to show up any weak links.
We've heard nothing about development delays, so it's safe to assume the Bimmer (or is that Beemer?) passed with flying colors. A recent teaser leads us to believe the automaker will unveil the i5 very soon, with an introduction scheduled for later this year.
Aside from stellar dynamics and sophisticated luxury, the newcomer will reportedly introduce the latest version of iDrive (Operating System 8.5). However, we've since learned that several existing models will also use this software from July, suggesting that the electric 5er will arrive before then.
Whenever it arrives, we just hope BMW sees fit to introduce the gorgeous wagon to the USA market, as that would go down a treat stateside.
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