The BMW i4 eDrive40 delivered to my door by BMW seems nearly indiscernible from a 4-series inner combustion engine car. It even has what seem like exhaust pipes out the again.
I think about the pitch for this automobile in some Bavarian BMW company workplace was one thing like:
Look, Tesla is consuming our lunch, let’s please simply make an EV model of the 4 collection to tackle the Mannequin 3. It would take nearly no effort, we’ll simply rip out the ICE parts and throw in a battery and a few electrical motors. It would barely seem on the steadiness sheet. How unhealthy might that be?
But by some means that is nonetheless a really compelling EV, and I’d argue loads higher than the 4-series it’s masquerading as. It’s even higher than the Mannequin 3 in a bunch of the way…
First the BMW i4 eDrive40 specs:
- Motor: 335-hp and 317 lb-ft of torque, rear wheel drive
(M50 model is AWD 536hp)
- Battery: 81 kWh
- Charging: 11 kW AC, 190kW CCS L3, 109 miles in 10 minutes
- Vary: 301 Miles however <240 exhibits up
- Weight: 4800lb
BMW’s Background in EVs
BMW debuted its “i” sub-brand in 2011 below “Undertaking i,” and debuted the prototype and objective constructed i3 the identical yr. It offered the BMW i3, constructed from the bottom up as an EV, beginning in 2013. It additionally launched the plug-in hybrid i8 tremendous sports activities 2-seater quickly after.
BMW periodically up to date the i3 with a REX hybrid fuel motor, extra vary, and extra energy, nevertheless it by no means actually escaped compliance automobile standing. It was wound down earlier this year as i4, iX, and i7 EV gross sales began. Notice: BMW with its partners in China, sells a different i3 now that appears extra like a 3-series sedan.
BMW i4 is a 4-series
The very first thing I observed when the automobile was dropped off was how a lot it regarded like a normal 4-series BMW. It has the identical beaver tooth grille within the entrance, the identical large bonnet, the identical rear finish, together with what seem like ducts for exhaust upon first look.
Even the cost port is the place the fuel tank door is. It has a F#%$ driveshaft tunnel principally making the fifth seat legroom nonexistent. Uncanny.
As an EV purist, all of that is painful to take a look at. As a automobile fanatic it doesn’t look unhealthy, although I’m not in love with the grey shade model I acquired.
Functionally, nevertheless, it is a downside. The 4-series wants an enormous bonnet to accommodate an enormous inner combustion engine. This explicit i4 solely has a rear electrical motor, which is an order of magnitude smaller than an ICE and lives between the rear wheels.
So is that this going to be the world’s largest frunk?
No, it’s a poorly-packed set of electronics that span the entrance third of the automobile – a number of pavement seen as effectively. There’s even an enormous gaping gap that would have been a medium sized frunk. The right place to place some cost cables and safe storage for purses, backpacks, and valuables when parked in a questionable neighborhood.
That large waste of house within the entrance signifies that there’s much less room within the cabin and the trunk than there may very well be. In comparison with the Mannequin 3 with a small bonnet – which is usually frunk storage – it is a stark distinction.
This implies the entrance seats are much less roomy, and the rear seats are sized like a smaller class of automobile. Sitting within the again seat for me (5’11”) with cheap legroom, my head touches the roof. I can slouch somewhat and be positive in an in any other case comfy and effectively appointed rear seating space. Nevertheless, somebody taller than me may need some trepidation about sitting within the rear.
The aforementioned ghost driveshaft tunnel makes the rear legroom nearly nonexistent for the fifth passenger and prevents laying large issues flat on the ground, like a skateboard or a snowboard.
The rear house isn’t horrible and it feels deep, however since every little thing is pushed again by the entrance bonnet, it’s barely smaller than it may very well be.
BMW i4 is a BMW
Whereas I used to be upset in regards to the format of the automobile, the standard of the car and drive had been phenomenal.
Coming from a set of Teslas that sound like I’m slamming the silverware drawer each time I shut the door, the i4 felt strong throughout. The inside could be very good, and I really like the widescreen CarPlay/Android Auto projection – significantly with maps. BMW calls this setup iDrive 8 – and it operates by way of a big, curved 14.9-inch touchscreen seamlessly built-in with a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel. Seats are comfy and significantly the adjustable lateral snugness is one thing to behold. That is completely a driver’s automobile.
BMW’s experience is famous, and the truth that they perfected it with combustion autos and now have a smoother, quieter, and quicker drivetrain is nearly unfair. Highway noise is nearly nonexistent. Turns are strong and… enjoyable. The i4 is virtually begging you to squeal the wheels. This automobile feels over-engineered in a number of methods, and the driving force is baited to push the bounds.
Whereas the i4 is over 1000lbs heavier than the fuel variations of this automobile, that weight is batteries and low to the bottom so dealing with, I feel, is improved. However it doesn’t really feel nimble.
BMW i4 eDrive40 vs. Tesla Mannequin 3
About the one two electrical mid-sized premium sedans available on the market are the Tesla Mannequin 3 and the BMW i4. The i4 solely comes within the “Gran Coupe” 4-door trim, vs the 4-series fuel vehicles that additionally are available a 2-door coup and convertible configuration. A convertible EV may need been actually cool right here.
I simply so occur to personal an early 2018 RWD Tesla Mannequin 3 as my day by day driver for 4 years, so having one other electrical luxurious/sport sedan to drive is an actual eye opener.
One factor I discovered attention-grabbing within the i4 which has similarities to my Tesla Mannequin 3: The i4 doesn’t get anyplace close to the acknowledged vary. Actually, the automobile solely ever advised me I had 230-240 miles, although the acknowledged vary is over 300 miles. I wasn’t driving significantly crazily, although it was scorching and I had the AC on fairly excessive this week. To be truthful, my Mannequin 3 is similar means. It says I’ve 300 miles of vary, but when I map to something over 200 miles away, the pc tells me a must make a supercharger cease. Realistically, I can often go 250 miles if the climate is respectable and I don’t drive loopy.
I didn’t take the i4 to a DC quick charger as a result of others have and have gotten the virtually 200kW of charging BMW says you will get. Maybe extra importantly, the cost curve permits drivers to over 100 miles in 10 minutes. Highway tripping will likely be just like a Mannequin 3, so long as there are respectable charging choices alongside the way in which.
I’m clearly conflicted right here. On the one hand, it is a glorified EV conversion of a 4 collection. Alternatively, in some ways, it really works! For my part, the i4 is a significantly better automobile total than any 4 collection. It’s quick, handles like a real sports activities automobile, and is clean and quiet. It has respectable vary and speedy charging.
In case you are evaluating a Mannequin 3 to this, the Mannequin 3 goes to be quicker and a significantly better packaged car, each smaller and with extra passenger/folks room. Nevertheless, the Mannequin 3 has tons of highway noise, high quality points, and the suspension is lackluster comparatively. Additionally in case you are an Android Auto/CarPlay fan, BMW has you coated.
So total, I feel I’d in all probability nonetheless take the Mannequin 3, however for a lot of, the BMW i4 eDrive40 will make quite a lot of sense.
Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.