It’s pretty clear that EV’s are here to stay. And it’s been interesting to see how carmakers are responding to the trend. Some like Tesla 3 and the Kia EV6 have a bespoke take on what an EV should be, while others models like the Kia Niro EV or Hyundai Kona Electric take an existing vehicle and offer an electrified version of the existing vehicle.
BMW Is an interesting case, since their first EV vehicles, the small i3 and the supercar i8, were definitely on the “unique” end of the spectrum. But the smart money says if you want people to buy an electric BMW, you give them all the traditional BMW goodness packaged around an EV powertrain. And for that we have the all-new i4. So, is this the EV BMW buyers have been looking for? Let’s find out.
Deceptive Non-EV looks
Well, if you are expecting the i4 to draw crowds of EV-loving fans, you’ll be disappointed. Instead, it would be easy to confuse the i4 with BWM’s 4-series Gran Coupe.
Up front is the massive kidney grille that is found on most BMW’s these days. It’s interesting because, in the EV most of the grille is blocked off since you don’t have a gas engine to cool. Frowny standard LED headlights with a clean U-shaped element look fresh and aggressive, while smaller functional grilles on the outside help out with aerodynamics. Those in the know will notice the light blue ring around the BMW roundel and small script “I” on the grille – your only real clues that this is BMW’s EV.
The profile is exceptionally handsome, with Grand Coupe lines that look sporty and snug, with short overhangs, frameless windows, and a sweeping roofline. You may also not know by looking at it, but the i4 is a hatchback rather than a trunk – all the better to carry gear!
We love the cut-ins behind the front fenders and concave shape on the doors. Perhaps the best part of the side view was our tester’s optional 19” Aero wheels, that have a tough-looking 5-spoke pattern, and a bright finish that really pops.
At the rear, we have slim L-shape rear lights that wrap around, while the curvaceous bumpers look extra sporty. Like the front, there’s some visual trickery here, with dual diffuser that look like there should be a nice set of exhaust pipes sticking out. But it’s an EV, no tailpipes for you!
The finishing touch was the optional Skyscraper Grey Metallic paint. This creamy concrete color is all the rage now, and we have to say on the i4, it looks rich and upscale. Modern, fresh and sporty, just like the rest of the i4.
Inside, the i4 is a stunner.
Open the door, and the first surprise…is the door. A rarity these days, the door is frameless with no metal surrounding the window, it makes the door notably lighter, plus if you’re used to putting your hand on the frame to open the door…it ain’t there!
Look inside and the showstopper is the optional BMW curved display, angled towards the driver and reaching well past the middle of the dash. A combo of a 12.3-inch digital display and a 14.9-inch touchscreen, when it comes to life, it’s an amazing show. There’s also a huge heads-up display that’s easy to use and driver configurable.
Outside of that, plop down into the Oyster Vernasca Leather sport seats and you could be in any 4-series, and we think that’s genius – it would make an easy transition for any gas-BMW driver to an EV.
All the controls are where you would expect them, BMW’s familiar iDrive– now on version 8! – is especially nice on the giant screen, and the rotary controller is intuitive and easy to use. We love the vertical tiles in the home page that are not only simple but look high-tech and futuristic. Our tester also had the wireless phone charger, that works easily with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. BMW’s still smart enough to include a volume knob too!
Some may not like the fact that the climate control system is only accessible through the touchscreen, but it’s easy to get to, and didn’t bother us at all. What did bother us a little bit was the lack of rear seat room. For a four door, legroom is on the tight side, and the couple-like rear lines impinge on headroom. Kids and smaller adults will be ok, but we’d make sure it will fit who you carry before you buy.
Speaking of carrying, while the rear seat may be snug when it’s up, folding it down creates an impressive cargo hold – much more than you’d expect from a hatchback, so you may be able to pass on a small crossover and go straight to this gorgeous Gran Coupe! Also worth noting is a handy underfloor storage area. With much of the space taken up by the audio system’s subwoofer, there’s still room for the remote charger and cable that lets you plug in at home.
How BMW Does EV’s
The driving experience is what really makes the i4 special.
Start up the power, and you get an acoustic accompaniment that was a collaboration of musician Hans Zimmer and BMW. Cool! You’ll also get drive sounds that vary by mode.
The eDrive40 features a single electric motor pumping out 335 hp, especially strong when you consider the turbo 4-cylinder 430i Gran Coupe provides 255 horsepower and the turbo 6 440i comes in at 382 horsepower.
But you can’t just compare horsepower, since the i4 serves up all its torque instantly. That means it moves off the line like there a big motor under that hood. It also feels even faster than it is, because of the silence and the lack of vibration. We liked putting the I in Sport Mode, which not only responds more quickly to the accelerator (you can’t call it gas, can you?) but BMW pipes in a throaty, high-tech sound that really helps sell the thrill.
The i4 pulls hard off the line and all the way through the speed range. O-60 feels way below the quoted 6 seconds. Merging on the freeway? Ridiculously quick. Passing? A tap on the throttle and you are gone. Yeah, we love the sound of a gas engine, but man, the power here is addicting and fun.
You’ll need to recalibrate part of your driving though, as soon as you let off the accelerator, the i4 slows down aggressively with regenerative braking, helping to throw charge back into the battery. It’s a little clumsy at first, but you get the hang of mostly one-pedal driving quickly.
BMW says range is up to 300 miles in the i4, but we didn’t get close to that. Partly because we were running the optional 19-inch wheels, and also driving like well, the BMW wanted us to, we were more in the 250’s at best. That’s plenty for the daily drive.
When it comes time to charge, the BMW is as fast as it drives. With a 200-kilowatt charging capacity, BMW says you get up to 90 miles in just ten minutes. Using a Level 2 Wallbox, you can go from totally empty to 100 percent in under 8 hours.
The best part of the i4, along with the power, is that it handles just like a BMW, with lots of grip, excellent chassis feedback, a comfortable ride and quick steering. The steering is similar to modern BMW design, being light, precise and unfortunately a little bit numb. Sport Mode heavies up the steering but really doesn’t enhance feel.
The i4 is also loaded with the latest active drive assist including lane departure, adaptive cruise control and emergency braking. We’ll just say they are all exceptionally well-integrated into the driving experience, making the i4 not only feel future-fast, but future safe as well.
What’s the Charge?
Pricing is also another thing that’s BMW familiar – i.e., you have to be careful with the options or you can ring up a big bill.
Our i4 started at $55,400 and that’s very competitive in the EV sport sedan stakes. Our tester added the Skyscraper Grey Metallic ($550), Leather ($1,450), Driver Assistance Pro Package ($1,700), Parking Assistance Package ($700), Premium Package ($950), 19-inch wheels ($600), Iconic Sounds Electric ($100), Wireless Charging. ($200), Personal eSIM 5G ($300), that beautiful, curved display ($1,000), Harman Kardon sound ($875), and destination for $995. We rang the bell at $64,820.
Frankly once you’ve experienced all this goodness it would be hard to say no to any of the above!
We estimate a comparable Tesla Model 3 would be in the low $60’s – but they have been increasing prices lately. We’d lean for the BMW with its superior build quality, and BMW-ness. Drive both and see what works for you. If you’re thinking of moving over from a gas-powered 4-series, a 440i Gran Coupe comes in very close at $65,590.
Things get a lot more complicated with the new government bill that is designed to give those nice $7500 incentives to lower priced EV vehicles – honestly, we’re not sure if the i4 will qualify. Like a lot of legislation, it’s confusing. If it does qualify, it is a fantastic BMW performance bargain. If it doesn’t, it’s still a heck of impressive performance EV.
Powerful, beautiful, and filled with Ultimate Driving Machine Goodness, the 2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 is how BMW does EVs – and we love it!
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.