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BMW i4, Not the President’s car, but no less either

The i4 breaks many a misconception, such as electric cars aren’t for intercity travel, are far more expensive than their ICE counterparts, and aren’t fun to drive. It may never become part of the President of India’s car collection, but doesn’t look out of place in front of the palace

BMW i4 Not the President’s car, but no less either

It is possibly the best example in the world of an internal combustion engine car turned into electric. The BMW i4, launched recently, is the first luxury electric car that can be termed ‘value for money’, even though Rs 70 lakh is a lot of money.

What is the i4?
It is BMW’s first all-electric midsize car—the company turned the 4 Series Gran Coupe (internal combustion engine) into the i4 by replacing all ICE parts with electric car parts like motor and battery etc. Size-wise, the i4 is bigger than the 3 Series and smaller than the 5 Series.

What is a Gran Coupé?
A coupé is a car with a sloping rear roofline and two doors; BMW’s Gran Coupés are four-door versions of such cars. The i4 is an electric Gran Coupé.

Does it look cool?
It looks way cooler than most cars. The design is easy on the eye—even that much-talked-about (and criticised by some) huge kidney grille doesn’t look out of place on the i4.ICE design has been retained—for example, even though it doesn’t have tailpipes, the twin-tailpipe housing is there. Under the huge front bonnet, instead of an engine there is wiring. That classical coupé silhouette with frameless doors makes it stand out.

How plush is the cabin?
It is plush, but not spacious (especially at the rear seat). The central transmission tunnel (not needed in an electric car) is still there, and it eats up leg space of the middle of rear seat third passenger. Front seats are very spacious. The head-up display (HUD), which shows driving data on the windscreen, has been removed, to cut costs. The boot is extra spacious.

How does it drive?
In the Sport mode, the i4 is a rocket on the road, with 0-100 km/h acceleration time of just 5.7 seconds. It drives almost sticking to the road, and even on sharp turns doesn’t lose its line. The reason is its low centre of gravity. The heavy battery is installed under the floor, increasing the centre of gravity and thereby stability.In the Eco Pro and Comfort modes, the i4 is still fast, but recuperates more energy back into the battery (high levels of brake energy regeneration), increasing the range of the car.

Is the 590 km claimed range real?
No, but in the Eco Pro mode the i4 can easily be driven about 500 km (the trip computer showed me a real-world range of 518 km on full charge).

Is it better than the 5 Series?
The i4 is priced Rs 5 lakh more than the bigger and more luxurious 5 Series (Rs 64.5 lakh). But not every BMW has to be about luxury. It also has to fulfil the company’s decades-old promise of providing ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’, where the i4 trumps the 5 Series, the 3 Series and even some M sedans.

Specifications
Battery: 83.9 kWhPower: 250 kW (340 horsepower)Power goes to: Rear wheels onlyWheelbase: 2,856 mm (longer than 3 Series)Charger offered: 11 kWHome charging time: 8.5 hours0-100 km/h: 5.7 secondsTop speed: 190 km/hDriving range: 590 km (WLTP)Price: Rs 69.9 lakh (ex-showroom)(Range is calculated using WLTP, or Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure, a laboratory test claimed to be very close to real-world conditions)

Competitors
—None in electric (smaller car Volvo XC 40 Recharge is priced Rs 55.9 lakh, and other luxury EVs over Rs 1 crore).—ICE competitors are BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine (Rs 55.3 lakh), BMW M340i xDrive 50 Jahre M Edition (Rs 68.9 lakh), and BMW 5 Series Sedan (Rs 64.5 lakh).

Charging support
—The i4 gets a free 11 kW BMW Wallbox AC charger as well as free installation (0-100% charge in 8.5 hours).—BMW is installing 50 kW DC fast chargers at its 50-odd dealerships in 34 cities (100 km of driving range in just 18 minutes).

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