There’s nothing like the rumble of a high-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) in a sporty vehicle as it gallops to top speed. That’s about the only thing we missed when we tested BMW’s all-new i4 electric sedan (from $55,400). The EV version of BMW’s iconic 3 Series delivers everything the brand is known for: exhilarating acceleration, on-rails handling, classic Bavarian luxury styling and a comfortable cabin. The i4 also boasts a range of 300 miles on a full battery, charges quickly and has plenty of sophisticated technologies. That said, the Tesla Model 3 remains our Editors’ Choice winner. The long-range version of the Model 3 is slightly more expensive (starting at $57,990), but it offers superior battery life.
Power and range
The 2022 BMW i4 is available in two versions: the eDrive40 and the high-performance M50, both of which use an 80.7 kWh lithium-ion battery. The eDrive40 has a single electric motor on the rear axle that produces 335 horsepower and 317 lb-ft. of torque. The M50 adds a second motor on the front axle for all-wheel drive and produces 536 horsepower and 586 lb-ft. of torque. Both versions rely on a single-speed transmission.
(Credit: Doug Newcomb)
The EPA estimates that the eDrive40 version can go about 301 miles with 18-inch wheels and 282 miles with 19-inch wheels on a full charge. Meanwhile, the M50 model gets 270 miles with 19-inch wheels and 227 miles with 20-inch wheels. The base Tesla Model 3 gets slightly less range (272 miles) than the eDrive40, though the AWD Long Range Model 3 gets a more impressive 358 miles per charge. The single-motor Polestar 2 (from $45,900) has a competitive battery range of 265 miles, but the Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ sedan (from $102,310) is closer to the Tesla with range EPA estimated 350 miles on a full charge.
The i4’s 200kW charging capability means you can add between 88 and 108 miles of range in around 10 minutes. If you use its built-in 11kW Level 2 charger, the i4 can fully charge in less than eight hours.
Competing models vary in their charge times, but don’t stray too far from the i4. The Tesla Model 3 only needs 30 minutes to charge on a public 150kW fast charger or 8-12 hours at 7kW. The Audi e-Tron also only takes 30 minutes on a public 150 kW fast charger to fully charge and 14 hours at 7 kW.
Trim and Features
As mentioned, the eDrive40 version we tested has a base price of $55,400. It comes with performance and exterior features such as 18-inch wheels, acoustic pedestrian warning, automatic LED headlights, dynamic stability control and cornering braking, electronic power steering, windscreen wipers with rain sensing and satin aluminum trim.
(Credit: Doug Newcomb)
Standard interior features include 40/20/40 split rear seats, auto-dimming inside and outside mirrors, high-gloss black trim, dual-zone climate control, garage door opener, zero-switch entry and start. key, a leather sports steering wheel, a sunroof, electric front sports seats, an electric tailgate and a reversing camera.
The vehicle features the new iDrive 8 infotainment system with a one-piece 14.9-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 12.3-inch instrument cluster. It supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as Bluetooth, navigation and voice recognition. Rounding out the tech stack are Connected Package Pro connectivity and telematics services, HD AM/FM radio and satellite radio, and a 10-speaker audio system.
Adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection and assist, driver drowsiness warning, forward collision and pedestrian collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, braking After-Collision and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert are among the on-board safety features.
(Credit: Doug Newcomb)
The i4 eDrive40 we tested came with add-ons including the $2,400 M Sport Package (19-inch M wheels, an aero kit, M steering wheel, upgraded exterior trim and variable sport steering) and the $1,750 Dynamic Management Package (Adaptive M Suspension, M Sport Brakes and Rear Spoiler). Other high-priced options include the $1,700 Driver Assistance Professional Package (automated lane change, evasive assist, lane centering and side collision avoidance) and the $950 Premium Package (artificial engine sounds, electric front seat lumbar support, heated steering wheel, and interior ambient lighting). With a destination fee of $995, the total sticker price for our test vehicle was $68,270.
The i4 M50 model with the second motor starts at $65,900 and comes standard with many optional packages on our eDrive40 tester. It offers gloss black exterior accents, a Sport Boost feature and launch control features.
Unlike its EV predecessors, the i3 and i8, the i4 bears a strong resemblance to BMW’s classic 3-series sedans and has a traditional trunk. The most unique aspect of the exterior is the trademark kidney-shaped grille; it’s oversized on the i4, but largely stalled because most of the car’s electrically driven components don’t require cooling. The interior is worthy of the brand’s luxurious heritage.
Technology you didn’t know you needed
The i4 is one of the first BMW vehicles to feature the company’s new iDrive 8 infotainment system. Similar to the system we tested in the Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+, a 14.9-inch touchscreen integrates seamlessly with a 12.3-inch digital dashboard to create a singular, huge, slightly curved display. But it’s also comparable in form and function to previous iDrive systems, as you use a rotating center console controller and main function buttons for navigation.
On the home screen, you can switch between large tiles with common functions or smaller tiles with all features available; you can also rearrange the tiles according to your preference. The instrument cluster offers similar customization options. The system is easy to navigate overall, although we’d prefer physical climate controls; grouping them into a touchscreen, like on the i4, makes them too complicated to use. And we don’t like that the heads-up display controls are buried in the iDrive menu.
(Credit: Doug Newcomb)
Owners have plenty of connectivity options, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for smartphone integration. The BMW-specific Connected Package Pro lets you lock and unlock the doors remotely, check battery and charge status, perform over-the-air software upgrades, use a point of access Wi-Fi, access real-time traffic information and even find on-street parking in select cities. We’re impressed with BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant’s voice recognition that understands natural language commands such as “Where can I get coffee?” or “Find the nearest charging station” as well.
Like the best technology, the i4 offers conveniences you never knew you needed and don’t have to. For example, the interior and exterior mirrors use photoelectric sensors to detect headlights that are too bright from behind and automatically dim glare to avoid distraction. We were also impressed that the i4 recognized a temporary construction zone on the motorway and displayed an “uneven road surface” warning on the screen.
The ultimate EV driving machine
Purists need not worry about BMW’s legendary performance pedigree as the i4 accelerates from 0-60mph in a respectable 5.5 seconds and rides like it’s on rails. We took it for hot laps on our favorite stretch of twisty country road and were so smitten with its seating and road-grip prowess that we repeated the ride several times.
(Credit: Doug Newcomb)
In its Sport settings, the i4 rivals anything we’ve driven from BMW except the M-branded vehicles. The only thing missing is engine roar – you can add artificial sounds, even if we found too wrong (sorry, Hans Zimmer(Opens in a new window)). There are also Eco Pro and Comfort modes on board. Individual settings in Sport and Eco Pro modes allow you to mix and match various performance attributes.
Battery life is good despite our aggressive driving, but the Level 2 chargers’ charging speed was a bit longer than advertised. We like that the driver can adjust the amount of brake regeneration, although it’s not enough for true one-pedal driving.
A close competitor to the Tesla Model 3
German luxury automakers such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz were caught off guard by Tesla’s sudden success. The BMW i4, along with the Audi e-tron GT (from $102,400) and the Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+, are examples of the Teutonic luxury titans’ attempts to fight back. But of these, only the BMW i4 impresses us enough to be a true Tesla rival (in this case, the Model 3). The i4’s high performance, subtle yet elegant exterior, sophisticated interior and state-of-the-art technology make the eDrive40 model superior to the Model 3 in all but two important areas: range and price. The base rear-drive Model 3 has slightly less range than the i4 eDrive40 but costs over $8,000 less, while the Long Range model offers significantly better range and only costs around $2,600. what’s more. If you’re looking specifically for a luxury electric sedan from an established manufacturer, the BMW i4 is easy to recommend.
The 2022 BMW i4’s thrilling performance, sleek exterior, stylish interior and state-of-the-art technology make it highly competitive with the Tesla Model 3 in all areas except range and price.
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