BMW i4 Review: The almost-perfect EV | The Financial Express

BMW i4 Review: The almost-perfect EV

The BMW i4’s claimed 590kms WLTP range gives upward of 460kms in the real world.

BMW i4 Review: The almost-perfect EV

I’ve sat with this review for a very long time. Primarily because every draft was steeped with my love for BMW and what they create. It read like a love letter to the headquarters from an ardent fangirl but now, a lot has changed. No, the car is still making me swoon, but I have enough reasons to back it up. I believe the BMW i4 as an EV in 2022, with the string of limitations attached to the industry, crippling it down, is near-perfect. The i4 is almost-perfect. One can extend only two arguments – its low ground clearance and its bank-shattering price. Hear me out, the failure of our government to offer proper roads minus unmarked, ill-proportioned speed breakers is not our, I mean, BMW’s problem. Neither is the lack of spending power. At an ex-showroom price of Rs 69.9 lakh, it is well around the average luxury car bracket, but because it’s a BMW with a green number plate, and the electric equivalent of a cheaper alternative, the price seems unsettling.

The BMW i4 is the electric counterpart of the 4 Series Gran Coupe that is not offered in India, which itself is the four-door coupe derivative of the 3 Series that is. The BMW 3 Series 330i retails at 46.90 lakh ex-showroom, and yes, I see the difference, just continue reading.

BMW i4 electric sedan: Battery and range

The tale of non-identical twins.

The only plausible argument that I’ll accept is the average cost of battery replacement and battery life that even after multiple investigations remain uncertain. So I’ll casually brush it under the carpet because I do not have the numbers for a Tata or Mahindra EV either. The numbers for which will be much less scary than this one.

For India, we have the i4 in eDrive40 with a rear-mounted motor driving the rear wheels and produces 340 bhp of power and a maximum torque of 430 Nm. It doesn’t look that much on paper but it claims and successfully clocks triple-digit speed from a standstill in under 6 seconds, 5.7 to be exact. Also attached is a potent 83.9kWh lithium-ion battery pack under the floor that awards the BMW i4 with a range of a whooping 590 kms on the WLTP cycle, more than the Audi e-Tron, Mercedes-Benz EQC, and even the new Mercedes-AMG EQS. Not to mention, it is the highest among EVs currently offered in the Indian market.

The BMW i4 can charge up to 205 kW, allowing the batteries to charge from 0 to 80% in 31 minutes using a 205 kW DC Charger. It also gets a smaller 11kW AC wall box charger that takes 8.5 hours to juice it up from 0-100%.

205 kW DC Charger10%-80% in 31 min | 164 km range in 10 min
50 kW DC Charger10%-80% in 83 min | 100 km range in 18 min
11 kW AC Charger0%-100% in 8.25 hrs

BMW i4: Regenerative braking

The sensitivity of the brakes can be adjusted in the settings, and that allows you very stark driving experiences. First, at the maximum setting, you get the most out of the single-pedal driving and if you manage to reign your foot and keep the speed around 50kmph for a while, its energy harvesting capabilities will shock you. In peak Delhi traffic, in Eco Pro mode (the others are Comfort and Sport), I covered a distance of almost 40kms, with only 2kms drop in the total charge.

BMW i4: Driving and performance

The BMW i4 drives like a BMW should, albeit the exhaust, which I so dearly missed. But, I am grateful for no fake engine noise pretending to be what the electric sedan is not. There is not as much as a whisper when the ‘ignition’ is on, and on the move, you’ll hear a little tyre noise and people shouting and asking if that’s the M4. It is as soothing to drive as it is to be chaotic. The acceleration hits you like three shots of caffeine mixed with Redbull and it doesn’t move a muscle till 180kmph. Even with a heavyweight of 2125kgs, the i4 handles like a cloud with a pleasant weight at the steering wheel. Its only foe is large speed breakers that challenge its sportscar-like 125mm ground clearance and the driver’s patient maneuvering. Although it gets a rear axle air suspension, ride height cannot be adjusted.

The BMW i4 eDrive40 has both, a natural progression and an EV-like slap of a response customisable by your choice of drive, regen setting, steering and swiftness of the right foot. It manages to utilise all its power without breaking a sweat, not the most pointy but still manages to mark and handle its weight around corners.

BMW i4 electric sedan: If looks could kill

If looks could kill, the kidney grille would match the effects of Medusa. But trust me, it looks absolutely enchanting in person. A complete head-turner and functional as the grille is closed off with active flaps at the bottom that open as per powertrain and battery cooling requirements. The BMW i4 and its combustion engine sister are built on the same platform, but standing side by side, they don’t feel anything like each other.

The BMW i4 gets a long bonnet, a flowing roofline, pristine frameless windows and a slightly high boot. Simple, elegant, and just ‘chefs kiss‘.

BMW i4 electric sedan: Interior

The free-standing screens look extremely elegant and the touch is super crisp and efficient.

Inside, there’s nothing that screams electric except for casually placed blue hues like around the start button and lever. It gets the BMW’s Curved Display with a 14.9-inch centre touchscreen that joins the other 12.3-inch digital screen. In terms of resolution and response, the touchscreen is super efficient and crisp. When it doubles up as the reversing assist, no spot feels tight to park. The free-standing screens look extremely elegant, are functional and have a complete vibe at night. There’s also a rotary controller in the centre for settings and a quite generic drive selector slotted with buttons for the drive modes here as well.

The rear seats aren’t the most capacious in terms of headroom.

The cabin quality is rich, to say the least. The dark taupe-colored seats are cosy and give all the support you’ll need. The rear, however, due to the roofline, isn’t the most capacious in terms of headroom but an acceptable cost to bear for its silhouette.

The BMW i4 has a luggage space of 470-litres.

In terms of features the BMW i4 gets ambient lighting, LED headlights, sunroof, three-zone climate control, powered steering adjust, powered seats with driver seat memory, Harmon Kardon sound system with 17-speakers. As per the Euro NCAP’s crash test, the BMW i4 has a 4-star rating and for India, it misses out on ADAS features as well.

BMW i4: Verdict

The BMW i4 is a celebrated, well-appreciated car in the global markets where a car-buying decision doesn’t boil down to the roads and unsupportive infrastructure. But for us, we take it with a pinch of salt. Owning a BMW has never been ‘practical’ and a battery pack will not change that. It will just help you believe in a future co-existence with electric cars and a subpar electric infrastructure as the i4’s claimed 590kms WLTP range gives upward of 460kms in the real world. Even without a standard engine, the i4 gives a cleaner bite of the BMW soul.

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