THE electric-focused BMW i4 brings together several opportunities to address a variety of challenges about mobility in the current era.
A four-door sports car with an electric disposition that holds on to the past values of performance and emotion while tapping into the future needs of sustainability and environmental awareness. That’s a tough call when it comes to trying to appease all parties.
A lot to take into consideration, but BMW has been pushing the envelope with EVs, and the i4 would be a logical extension of its ongoing programme.
Embracing the new BMW design language — people are growing accustomed to that large grille — the i4 eDrive40 Grand Coupe reviewed here, presents a good compromise of needs and wants. To some extent, at least.
The styling is kept sleek; smooth, flowing lines outlining a low profile, and paired with eye-catching, satin finished 19-inch aerodynamic wheels with low resistance tyres. With blue, electric accents and clean front and rear design features, the overall result is a good looker with a coefficient of drag of 0.24 which provides very low resistance when on the move.
The grand coupe styling gives a bit more length to the car, stretching it out and setting it lower and offering a more dashing look. It also results in a bit more legroom at the back, and a chance for a deep and practical boot. Unlike many electric cars that offer some storage in front, where the engine used to sit, this space is covered in the i4, so there’s no room there for personal effects.
Quick Off The Mark
Like all EVs, the i4 packs a quick punch when you rocket off from standstill. While not as fast as its M counterpart, the i4 eDrive40 still delivers a creditable standing start to 100kmh in 5.7 seconds (almost 2 seconds quicker in the i4 M50). With 430Nm of torque on hand, it’s quick to make good use of the 250kW of power the motor whips up. But it only goes up to 190kmh, which seems a shame for a car with so much potential.
Surely, if you’re paying $340K* for a car, you’d like it to at least top 200kmh? Never mind that you may never actually do it.
All that power and torque are great once you get to cruising speeds, but getting there can be a bit lurchy. The eagerness of the motor to speed up and showcase the Hans Zimmer soundtrack developed for BMW’s EVs does make for an uncomfortable ride for passengers especially, regardless of how comfortable the seats are.
For a relatively low car with rear air suspension, there’s a lot of gentle rocking you’d expect in an SUV. And as you push it into a sharp manoeuvre, there’s a degree of understeer that you have to deal with.
That said, the i4 eDrive40 is good for cruising. The quiet ride, once it gets up to expressway speeds, is complemented by a sound system that fills the silent spaces.
The curved display — a combination of a 12.3” instrument cluster and a 14.9” control display — makes for a sweeping visual spectacle. BMW’s operating system 8 offers a variety of options when it comes to presenting the information, and there’s a large head up display as well.
The driver assistance systems that are itching to take over the wheel have been included as de rigueur and can in some cases — lane departure correction, for instance — intrude on the driving experience until you minimise the sensitivity or switch them off.
Range Of Options
With a range of 590km, you’re able to have a good run up country without requiring too many refuelling stops. Range anxiety, which plagued the early years of EVs, is likely to be a thing of the past, and with enough charging points, it would be like filling a car with petrol, maybe even as fast in time to come, as battery technology improves.
For now, you can get a range of almost 165km with 10 minutes of high-power (DC) charging, and you can get from 10%-80% in just over 30 minutes.
Since the symbiosis with your omnipresent smartphone is eternal, the My BMW app keeps you in umbilical touch with your car and allows you to set up some functions remotely.
But the bigger question will always be about acceptability of EVs by the petrolheads, possibly a dying generation that still has the means to splash out on a dashing set of wheels, regardless of what ludicrous amounts the tax regime of the day swipes from the wallet for no fathomable reason other than it can do it. When it comes to sports cars, it’s the noise, vibrations, performance and smell that make a difference. Stripped of all that, there’s not too much to differentiate EVs across brands, other than in the aesthetics and design departments.
With a grand tourer, the ease of the ride and comfort are key considerations. You may drive fast, but you also like to cruise. And maybe it’s in this category that the EVs fit in better.
BMW i4 eDrive40 GC RATING
*Please reconfirm price with dealer.
Read more STORM-ASIA car reviews HERE.