BMW i5 Review (2023) | Autocar Car News

There’s a strong whiff of 7 Series about the interior of this car, flowing not only from its expansive cabin width but also the scope and style of the digital technology employed in it, and from various cabin features used more widely.

BMW is creeping towards greater domination of its car interiors by their respective screens and digital interfaces, and wider integration of controls and functions within those digital systems – for better in a few cases but too often, in others, with insufficient apparent regard for accessibility of those controls while you are driving.

The i5 is not the worst example of this we have tested this year (the X1 was a much greater offender) but it’s certainly not the image of considered driver usability that BMW so often used to present.

In some ways, the i5’s cockpit is familiar. If it positions its driver at a marginally higher hip point than in previous generations (we are unable to measure these things but you are sitting atop the battery), it can’t be by much and it offers a fine, recumbent driving position in front of well-located pedals and a widely adjustable electric steering column. 

Space up front is good, particularly so for elbows and shoulders. In the second row, it’s not quite as generous as some may expect, but it’s more than sufficient for taller adults. Boot space is class competitive, the regular 5 Series narrowly pipping 500 litres of luggage capacity and the i5 only narrowly missing it.

The Live Cockpit Professional digital instrumentation looked a little over-styled and contrived for some testers’ liking. It’s readable but not as configurable for layout of information as we would like (but the optional head-up display helps to make up for the shortcoming).

But the 14.9in central infotainment, with its Operating System 8.5 software, can’t match that useful hierarchy of navigability. Too many permanent physical controls and menu shortcut buttons have now been taken away and the driver is too often left with too much to do to find the menu where they have been hidden away. 

The car comes with Veganza man-made leather as standard (merino leather is a cost option) but it is only moderately convincing on tactile appeal. Elsewhere, tactile material quality is respectable, but it is not in the league of the iX or i7.

By comparison with those cars, the i5’s electric window controls feel plain and a little cheap; its door cubbies are unlined; and many of its lower fascia mouldings are hard and a bit uninviting to the touch.

BMW will hope design features such as the car’s digital ‘interaction bar’ (the multi-coloured, actively illuminated light bar that spans the fascia, flooding the cabin in whichever colour takes your fancy, and flashing to warn of an incoming phone call or a safety alert) or its hidden ‘seam vent’ air vents will make up for some of the sensory appeal missing from the cabin.

Sadly, some testers felt the former looked a little garish and plasticky, and the latter were simply harder to adjust than conventional air vents.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-08 13:07:36


Next-generation Nissan Qashqai EV to match current pricing Car News

Nissan has yet to reveal many technical details of the new Qashqai, although it will sit on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance CMF-EF platform, a bespoke electric architecture designed for C- and D-segment cars. It is already used for the Renault Megane and Renault Scenic, and will also underpin the next-generation Nissan Juke and Nissan Leaf.

Battery packs for the next-gen Qashqai will be built in Sunderland, with Nissan partner AESC planning to build a third battery gigafactory at the site. Nissan and AESC are currently focused on lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry.

One key focus for the next Qashqai will be on maximising efficiency. Despite the sharp, angular styling of the Hyper Urban David Moss, Nissan’s European research and development chief, told Autocar that the firm has “paid a lot more attention to aerodynamics” than with previous models in a bid to maximise efficiency.”

Nissan has yet to confirm when the next Qashqai will arrive. Based on the current model’s lifecycle it would be expected in around 2029, although that could be adapted depending on the speed of electric car adoption. Nissan is aiming to only sell electric cars in Europe from 2030 onwards, while the UK will ban the sale of all new non-zero emission cars in 2035 – although a new Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate will require firms to make an increasing percentage of their sales EVs before then.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-08 08:39:53


Stellantis to introduce battery swap stations from 2024 Car News

Stellantis will launch a network of battery swap stations that can fit a fully charged battery to an EV “in less than five minutes”.

The technology, developed by San Francisco-based Ample and backed by Vauxhall parent Stellantis, will be rolled out on a subscription basis and be introduced in Madrid, Spain, next year. Further sites will follow, although the brand is remaining tight-lipped on locations and timelines.

It will initially be available for only the electric Fiat 500 but the system will be expanded to accommodate every marque in the Stellantis stable, including Citroën, Peugeot, Jeep and Maserati.

It has been conceived to make gaining a fully charged battery “as fast and convenient as refuelling with gas”, according to Stellantis. Cars will be recognised on arrival, with drivers using an app to initiate the swapping process.

It follows a similar set-up by Chinese EV brand Nio, which has more than 1300 of its Power Swap Stations in service across its home nation, with a further 13 in several central European countries. Plans for the UK have previously been mooted.

For Stellantis’s tech, the swappable modular batteries have been designed as “drop-in replacements” for existing packs used by any electric car. It allows Stellantis to integrate its batteries without re-engineering platforms, saving cash. 

“Ample’s Modular Battery Swapping solution has the opportunity to offer our customers greater energy efficiency, outstanding performance and lower range anxiety. We are looking forward to executing the initial programme with our stellar Fiat 500e,” Stellantis senior vice president Ricardo Stamatti said.

According to Stellantis, the swap stations can be constructed and fully operational in “as little as three days”.

Ample CEO Khaled Hassounah said: “The combination of offering compelling electric vehicles that can also receive a full charge in less than five minutes will help remove the remaining impediments to electric vehicle adoption.”

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This notice was published: 2023-12-07 17:42:28


F1 to investigate hydrogen power for future motorsport use Car News

Formula 1 technical bosses will investigate the potential of hydrogen for future use in motorsport as part of a new working group.

The new Hydrogen Working Group will be tasked with evaluating the development and use of hydrogen within both motorsport and “wider mobility”.

The body will include figures from motorsport governing body the FIA, F1 and Extreme H, the hydrogen-powered off-road racing series that’s due to launch in 2025.

The group will look at both hydrogen fuel cell and battery systems such as those that will be used to power the first Extreme H cars, as well as how hydrogen can be used more widely as part of motorsport infrastructure, such as transportation, charging, storage and management. A key focus will also be looking at the safety of the technology.

While F1 chief technical officer Pat Symonds and other figures will be on the panel, there’s no indications that the category is looking at adopting hydrogen powertrains.

F1 is focused on reaching net-zero but, at present, chiefs have put a focus on the development of environmentally friendly synthetic e-fuels to power its next generation of hybrid power units.

Symonds said: “Our sport has a tradition of bringing new technologies to the forefront of public perception in incredibly short timescales. We do this by being open-minded to all solutions and embracing cross-functional engineering.”

He added that F1 was “committed to promoting sustainability” and as a result needed “to explore all areas of decarbonisation of the mobility sector, [which] must include sustainable liquid hydrocarbon fuels, electrification and hydrogen”.

Extreme H will be a sister series to battery-electric Extreme E. The plan is for the two categories to share events and use the same chassis (produced by Spark) but with different powertrains.

Bosses aim to reveal a prototype racer before the end of this year, have an extensive testing programme take place in 2024 and then launch the series the following year. They aim for it to become an official FIA World Championship in 2026.


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This notice was published: 2023-12-07 12:01:46


Next MG Marvel R SUV to launch in UK after snub rethink Car News

MG will launch the replacement version of the Marvel R upmarket electric compact SUV in the UK after restricting the current model to left-hand-drive European markets only, the brand has confirmed. 

No details about the new model have been released, but it’s expected to be built on the same modular electric underpinnings as the new MG 4. The architecture, called the Modular Scalable Platform (MSP), can accommodate a range of battery sizes up to 150kWh and also facilitate battery swapping. 

The current Marvel R is the brand’s halo model. In European markets, it costs up to €48,015 (£42,000) for the dual-motor Performance version producing 285bhp. 

The decision not to build a right-hand-drive version of the current Marvel R was made before MG sales rose significantly in both the UK and Australia. MG clocked 43,061 UK sales to the end of October this year, up 70% on last year, to make it the country’s 12th best-selling brand, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. 

“Go back four years ago and we were selling 9000 a year from tiny little dealerships,” said UK commercial director Guy Pigounakis. “You couldn’t sell a £45,000 premium SUV from places like that.” 

The decision to sell the new Marvel R here came after MG sales for both EVs and combustion-engine cars skyrocketed. “Tragically, if we did have Marvel R now, we could probably have sold 6000-7000 this year,” added Pigounakis. 

The replacement for the Marvel R is “a completely different car”, according to Pigounakis, although he didn’t go into more detail. 

MG parent company SAIC is reportedly planning 14 vehicles based on the MSP electric platform. All MG UK’s current models will be replaced by the end of 2024 bar the MG 4, said Pigounakis, with the MSP platform likely to replace electric models such as the ZS EV small SUV and MG 5 electric estate. No timing was given for the replacement for the Marvel R, but the new model is expected before 2025.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-07 06:00:00


Radical Honda concept hints at total EV rethink Car News

Honda will unveil a new global series of electric cars at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas on 9 January 2024.

Scant detail is currently known about the forms these new EVs will take, but a teaser image published by the firm shows the low-set, streamlined front end of one.

It represents a dramatic shift from the Japanese brand’s existing cars, with flat, uncomplicated surfaces, a chin spoiler and flush light bars. 

The wheel picture features flat, geometric styling, similar to the drag-reducing designs used on the new Peugeot e-3008 and Renault Scenic E-Tech.

Alongside the announcement, Honda reiterated its goal to become an electric-only brand by 2040 and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Much of the brand’s recent work has concerned the latter target, exploring new materials and construction methods.

The Honda Sustaina-C concept shown at the Tokyo motor show in October represented the latest development on this front, with body panels made entirely from recycled acrylic resin.

The material – which can be recycled and reused after the theoretical lifespan of the Sustaina-C – can also be unpainted, further reducing CO2 emissions.

The same unpainted acrylic resin was used for the CI-MEV, a two-seat quadricycle-style pod for those in areas with limited public transport. 

The ambition is for such cars to establish a circular economy – to build new cars without producing new materials, instead recovering them from the existing car parc.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-06 14:01:45


My Week In Cars: New Steve Cropley/Matt Prior podcast (ep. 65) Car News

Episode 65 of the Autocar podcast My Week In Cars finds our resident car hacks Steve Cropley and Matt Prior talking the New Year’s Day meet at Brooklands and Goodwood’s move to sustainable fuels, wondering what happened to Mercedes’ famous advertising slogans, taking Toyota at Le Mans and much more besides including your correspondence.

Make sure you never miss an Autocar podcast. Subscribe to our podcasts via Apple PodcastsSpotifyAmazon Podcasts or via your preferred podcast platform. And if you subscribe and rate and review the pod, we’d really appreciate that too.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-06 05:01:45


Stellantis working on hydrogen combustion engines Car News

Stellantis is working on hydrogen combustion engines as one of four different solutions to zero-emissions driving, CEO Carlos Tavares has said.

Tavares was speaking at the opening of the Symbio hydrogen fuel cell factory in Lyon, France. Symbio is an equally owned joint venture between Stellantis, automotive supplier Forvia and tyre maker Michelin.

Stellantis – which owns 14 car makers, including Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Jeep, Peugeot and Vauxhall – is trying to diversify the number of drivetrains available under European Union decarbonisation rules.

“Hydrogen injection is one of the four technologies we’re working on,” Tavares said after the plant opening. 

He criticised legislators for their “brutal” methods to move car makers away from fossil fuels and steering them towards EVs.

“Now the dogmatic thinking is being hurt by reality, because if you aren’t affordable, then people can’t pay for it,” he said.

Stellantis is diversifying its drivetrain options to cater to those customers for whom EV charging is a drawback.

“The real competition is starting between fuel cell, EVs, hydrogen internal combustion engines and even synthetic fuels,” Tavares said. “We will see in the next few years what is going to be the best solution for the citizens.” 

Burning hydrogen in combustion engines has been seen as the easiest solution for zero-emissions driving, especially among commercial vehicle makers, given the lack of disruption to supply chains it would cause compared with BEVs or FCEVs.

Petrol engines need to be modified to accept hydrogen, but much of the same mechanism remains. The hurdles then are establishing a refuelling network and making green hydrogen at scale.

Tavares didn’t say which vehicles would be offered with hydrogen combustion engines, but Stellantis has already begun selling its K0 range of mid-size vans (think the Vauxhall Vivaro) with a hydrogen fuel cell option.

Stellantis will also offer a hydrogen fuel cell version of the Ram Heavy Duty pick-up truck in the US in late 2026 or early 2027, Tavares said.

Hydrogen tanks are easier to package in a van, while the lesser weight of a fuel-cell or hydrogen-combustion van compared with a battery-electric one would allow for a greater payload. 

Toyota has demonstrated hydrogen combustion engines in both Toyota Yaris and Toyota Corolla race cars running in Japan, while the Renault Group has showcased one in the Alpine Alpenglow supercar concept.


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This notice was published: 2023-12-05 17:46:31


UK fuel prices: drivers still significantly overcharged despite drop Car News

What determines the price of fuel?

The price of petrol and diesel you buy at the pump is largely determined by the wholesale price of Brent crude oil. 

Fluctuations in the price of this, however, can take weeks to filter through to the forecourts.

The long-term cost of petrol

In July 2023, a major report from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that drivers paid on average 6ppl more for fuel last year as supermarkets took advantage of weakened competition and inflated pump prices.

CMA chief Sarah Cardell, who said supermarkets were usually the cheapest place to buy fuel and market anchors, said the rising of prices would have had “a greater impact on vulnerable people, particularly those in areas with less choice of fuel stations.”

The report found the rise was instigated by Asda  – which was also fined £60,000 for not co-operating fully with the CMA investigation – and Morrisons, the two cheapest fuel sellers, which last year each made the decision to target higher margins. 

Asda’s fuel margin target in 2023 was more than three times what it had been for 2019, while Morrisons doubled its margin target in the same period. 

Other retailers, including Sainsbury’s and Tesco, didn’t respond “in the way you would expect in a competitive market” and “instead raised their prices in line with these changes”, the CMA found.

“Taken together, this indicates that competition has weakened and reinforces the need for action,” the report added.

Diesel prices have also been slow to drop in 2023, partially down to Asda ‘feathering’ its prices (reducing them more slowly as wholesale prices fell) and other firms not responding competitively to that. 

The CMA estimated that drivers have paid 13ppl more for diesel from January 2023 to the end of May 2023 than if margins had been at their historic average.

“Competition at the pump is not working as well as it should be, and something needs to change swiftly to address this,” said Cardell.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-05 10:10:00


Audi E-tron GT due redesign with 750bhp RS on the cards Car News

The Audi E-tron GT will receive a host of eye-catching styling revisions as part of a mid-life facelift – which could include the arrival of a new RS variant with as much as 750bhp.

Planned for launch towards the end of 2024, the Tesla Model S rival was spotted undergoing its final stages of testing in Germany with very little camouflage covering its bodywork.

Our spy photographer’s images suggest that the design of the E-tron GT will be brought more in line with the all-new Audi Q6 E-tron SUV, which is set for launch in February 2024. 

It will also follow in the footsteps of the Porsche Taycan, its Volkswagen Group sibling, in gaining more aerodynamically optimised front and rear bumpers, a revised front grille and new alloy-wheel designs.

Unusually for a facelift, the front and rear light designs appear to remain the same.

At the rear, the diffuser is much more prominent, with large side blades channelling air at either side of the bumper.

The side profile remains largely the same, save for redesigned side skits.

Judging by the muscular brake set-up and additional cooling apertures at the front, the range-topping RS E-tron GT could be made even more powerful. 

It could pack the same 750bhp powertrain as the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, bringing about a 113bhp increase over the current RS E-tron GT, which produces 636bhp and dispatches 62mph in 3.3sec.


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This notice was published: 2023-12-04 12:41:15