Sedan sales may have fallen off a cliff in recent years, but when BMW decided it needed a Tesla rival and needed it more quickly, it chose the 4-Series Gran Coupe as its base and targeted the Model 3. Off?
Although the i4 is not BMW’s first all-electric car, it is arguably one of the most mass-market applications, although it sits firmly in a premium segment of the market and is more expensive than its main competitors.
The first thing to notice about the i4 is that it is not underpinned by an all-electric platform and as mentioned, it is based on the ICE 4-Series Gran Coupe. Most automakers are moving away from this and using dedicated architectures for their electric models, such as Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis with the latest Ioniq 5, EV6 and GV60. This does not mean that the i4 is not a mandatory EV, however.
Space sheets read well
Tested here is the i4 eDrive40, an entry-level variant sold in Australia and packed with an 80.7 kWh battery pack that drives an electric motor with 250 kW (335 hp) and 430 Nm (317 lb-ft) torque on the rear wheels. These figures may not be earth-shattering in the world of EVs, but they are nothing to sneeze at, especially when you consider that the rate of entry-level ICE 420i Gran Coupe is 135 kW (181 hp) and 300 Nm (221 lb). Feet).
The i4 eDrive40 is good for 5.7 seconds for a time of 0-100 km / h (0-62 mph) and it will continue to run at a maximum speed of 190 km / h (118 mph), which is enough for most buyers.
More important is the range and charging speed. These are two areas where BMW also performs well. It has a claimed range of 520 km (323 miles) in Australia’s combined test cycle and receives DC fast charging at speeds of up to 205 kW. That’s enough to charge the battery to 10-80 percent in 31 minutes, about 12 minutes longer than the Ioniq 5, EV6 and GV60 but still decent. An 11 kW wall box installed in a home can fully charge the battery in more than 8 hours.
On paper then, the i4’s ICE underpinnings don’t seem to hinder the ability to be a good EV. But what about the interior?
It’s a BMW, of course it’s nice
The first thing those who are familiar with BMW will notice is how ‘normal’ the interior is. Adopting a spaceship-like design with the cabin of the BMW i4 did not follow the lead of some of its EV rivals and instead, most of its components were shared with the regular 4-Series Gran Coupe. That’s not a bad thing at all.
When we tested the 4-Series Gran Coupe a few months ago, we were fascinated by its cabin. The i4 further enhances this with many welcome updates.
The most notable change was the implementation of BMW’s curved display featuring a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch infotainment screen. These displays look like all the important functions of the car and make the house look like a house Before spending a week with the i4, we were worried about how the cluster would work in sunny conditions without covering a traditional binoculars. Apparently, the screen performed flawlessly and we never noticed.
Powered by: 2022 BMW 420i Gran Coupe has style and swivel
BMW has moved away from the traditional climate control buttons found in the regular 4-Series Gran Coupe and shifted the functionality to the infotainment screen. We do not like this change because the new climate settings are not particularly intuitive. The other two notable changes to the i4 include a new black and blue shifter and a blue start / stop button. Apart from these components, most cabins are shared with the ICE model and include transmission tunnels.
BMW’s curved display runs the latest BMW operating system 8. This software is a significant improvement over older models. It is easy to understand and the screen itself is very responsive to touch. Excellent inclusion of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Space in the back is limited. The i4 eDrive40e’s floor is quite high and the roof is low, which means long passengers will feel numb. However, due to the panoramic glass roof of the Model 3, the headroom is no longer good at betting. Luggage space with 470 liters (16.59 cubic-feet) and 1,290 liters (45.5 cubic-feet) rear seat flat fold is respectable.
Lots of security features on the base i4 are standard. It includes six airbags, blind-spot alerts, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane-keeping assistance, high- and low-speed autonomous emergency braking, a 360-camera and front and rear parking sensors.
Refined and smooth
As is often the case with electric cars, it is the straight-line performance of the i4 eDrive40 that strikes you first.
The BMW quotes a 0-100 km / h (62 mph) time of 5.7 seconds but for those unfamiliar with the performance EV, it can quickly feel the immediate torque and response it provides. The lack of gear change also adds a sense of speed.
When the road is curved, the i4 eDrive40 is a pleasure to drive but it weighs 2,125 kg (4,684 lbs) and that weight is quite noticeable. The sharpness of the turn-in is comparable to the standard 4-Series Gran Coupe but when you discuss the angle, the car starts to feel quite heavy. The rear end is also very happy to rotate like any good sports sedan of this type.
Our test vehicle was equipped with Hancock Ventas S1 Evo 3 tires that measured both 245 / 40R19. These tires work great in all situations and are considered by most to be comparable to the new Michelin Pilot Sport 5 and the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 6.
Those who have experienced the i4 eDrive40 may be pleasantly surprised to see how clean it is to drive on the highway. The driver-assistance features are enabled and with the cruise control set, there is very little road noise coming from tires or wind. However, if you want some sound, BMW’s IconicSounds system, developed by Hans Zimmer, does just that. It can be turned on or off via settings, and the soundscape may vary depending on what driving mode you are in. We really enjoyed it while driving the i4 in Sport mode because it sounds like a spaceship when you speed up. Of course, this is a gimmick, but it is accelerated without any sound or emotion.
A regenerative braking system also comes as standard in the car, providing ‘High’, ‘Medium’, ‘Low’ and ‘Adaptive’ settings. The system works well and the transition between regenerative brakes and mechanical brakes is almost non-stop. Unfortunately, reproducible braking systems like some competitors cannot be completely disabled and the ‘adaptive’ setting is quite unexpected. There is no one-pedal driving mode and it is a shame that repetitive brakes are buried in the settings menu.
With the i4 including a mix of city and highway driving we averaged 23 kWh / 100 km per week. Since our test vehicle left the factory, however, its average speed was 17.8 kW / 100 kmph from about 3,100 kmph (1,926 lb) driving.
Is it more premium than the cheaper option?
Prices for the BMW i4 eDrive40 start at AU $ 99,900 ($ 70,834) plus on-road costs. That’s a lot of money and an estimated AU $ 16,000 ($ 11,344) more than a 430i Gran Coupe that offers the same kind of performance. It is more expensive than its electrical rivals.
Like many other countries, the Tesla Model 3 is Australia’s best-selling EV. The entry-level rear-wheel drive model does not pack the same punch as the i4 eDrive40, but significantly cheaper, starting at AU $ 63,900 ($ 45,308) before the on-road cost. The flagship Model 3 Performance is available from AU $ 88,900 ($ 63,034) before the on-road cost whereas the flagship i4 M50i AU starts from 124,900 ($ 88,560). The price contrast between the Model 3 and i4 is significant but there is no doubt that BMW feels like a more premium and refined car with a much higher interior.
The price is also worth comparing the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 with the i4 eDrive40, although they are big crossovers. The AU for the Hyundai rear-wheel drive model starts at U 71,900 ($ 50,980) and the AU for the all-wheel drive variant starts at U 75,900 ($ 53,816). Meanwhile, the EV6 range starts at AU $ 67,990 ($ 48,208) and tops AU from 82,990 ($ 58,844). The local price of Genesis GV60 has not been announced.
Then there’s the AU পো 59,900 ($ 42,472) for the long-range single motor version of the Polyester 2, increasing to AU $ 64,900 ($ 46,017) and AU $ 69,900 ($ 49,562) for the long-range dual motor one.
There is no denying that the BMW i4 eDrive40 is a good EV. This will be very familiar to pre-existing BMW owners and those looking for a car in this segment. Will higher prices, however, affect sales? Only time will tell.
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