2022 BMW i4 review, first impressions - makes no excuses
BMW India may have been slow off the blocks with its EVs. But in just the last six months, we've seen the iX SUV, the Mini Electric and now the BMW i4. But this delay seems to have done them some good, the i4 makes a compelling choice on paper. We spend a short time behind the wheel to see if that holds true on the move.
BMW i4 battery, range, charging
The BMW i4 is currently available in the single-motor, rear-drive eDrive40 version. The headline number is that with its 80.7 kWh (usable) battery pack WLTP range is 590 km, the most of any EV on sale in India. An interesting stat that must surely help with this is the i4 can recuperate up to 116kW through its single-pedal B mode.
This function seems to work quite naturally. At least in slow speeds scenarios, say when manoeuvring the i4 around parking lots, where you barely ever need to use the physical brakes. The i4 brings itself to a complete halt fairly smoothly. Aside from this, there are three regen levels as well as a full coasting function. With these aids in mind, we'd guess a real-world range of around 450 km should be easily achievable with the i4.
The i4 can charge at up to 205kW through a DC fast-charger, getting the battery from 10 to 80 per cent charge in 31 minutes. Through the more common 50 kW DC chargers, the i4 needs just under 1.5 hours to get up to 80 per cent charge. For home charging, an 11 kW AC wall box will charge this BMW EV fully in 8.25 hours.
BMW i4 initial driving impressions, performance
In the few minutes we spent behind the wheel of the BMW i4 around a slalom course, it was quickly apparent that the i4 doesn't skimp on the typical BMW driving charm all that much just because it is an EV.
The i4 is essentially the electric version of the 4 Series Gran Coupe, itself the 4-door coupe version of the 3 Series. It uses a reworked iteration of the CLAR architecture of these cars with significant changes to the front sub-frame and suspension components to accommodate the battery pack. Hearteningly for those who enjoy driving, the i4 is still rear-driven and puts out a not inconsequential 340PS and 430 Nm from its single motor. Further, the EV bones have dropped the centre of gravity by 53mm.
So around the tight course, the i4 felt fast, agile and communicative. So still very much a BMW. Power delivery off the line is well judged and the i4 doesn't hyper-react to heavy throttle inputs. Precision from the steering too hasn't been diluted all that much.
The 50:50 weight distribution has remanded intact, so around a tight hairpin, the i4 feels almost as poised and balanced as say a 3 Series. The progressive but tightly controlled lean in a BMW that gives you just that bit more sense around bends is also still intact. The brakes feel well-calibrated and fairly natural with little of the regen-induced lightness through the pedal.
The added weight means that you will need to be judicious with the throttle while entering a corner, the quick turn-ins of a small ICE BMW have been dulled somewhat. The i4 will run wide if you are overeager. Of course, if you are skilled enough, you can turn off the nannies and i4 will happily pull slides and donuts.
We can't tell you much about the way the i4 rides but there really isn't much of that low-speed firmness that plagues many EVs, possibly helped by the rear-axle air-suspension. With BMW saying high-speed performance was a focus with the electric motor, and with the long range, the i4 should be a comfortable highway performer too.
2022 BMW i4 interiors, features
With the BMW i4 continuing with the older architecture, there is a familiar feeling from inside the cabin. So you have the same high-quality materials and tight fit. A big difference though is the new iDrive 8 interface. There's now a monolithic curved display in front of you with a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 14.9-inch touchscreen. In this iteration, the system uses a smartphone-like interface with numerous sub-menus.
As is the current trend, physical climate controls have been done away with. This does mean there is a slightly longer learning curve but some time behind the wheel should be all it takes. Thankfully, the tactile iDrive controller remains which simplifies proceedings considerably. Although, we would have liked paddle-operated regen modes too. As it stands you will need to dive into the menus to change the regen levels. Usefully, the one-pedal mode is easily accessible via the new, blue highlighted drive selector's B mode. In fact, that is pretty much the only way you can tell this is an EV on the inside, along with the blue start/stop button and a blue border to the BMW badge on the steering.
The coupe shape paired with the EV gubbins on a primarily ICE architecture does bring with it some compromises to the rear seat. To be fair, ingress-egress through those slick frameless doors is easy, you have good legroom and headroom too if you're not too tall. But there is a distinct lack of under-thigh support, even though BMW says the underfloor battery pack is only 110mm thick. This space is best for two, considering the centre tunnel from the ICE versions remains. Helpfully, the cushioning is just right and the seatback is at a comfortable angle. There's even quite a bit of boot space at 470 litres, easily accessible with its square shape and the hatch opening.
BMW has also packed in a good list of features. Standard equipment includes a wireless Android Auto/Apple car play, a 17-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system, three-zone climate control, ambient lighting, a powered tailgate and a large sunroof. The useful reversing assistant continues with the i4 too.
2022 BMW i4 exterior, features
We don't think we have more to add to the debate around how BMWs have begun to look, considering everyone has said everything that needs to be said. But if anything, we sort of felt it grow on us over the few hours we spent around the i4. The rest of the car, with its slightly more expressive bodywork than the 3 Series and the more swept-back lighting elements, looks proportionate. Add the optional M Sport styling pack seen here with those wheels, the sharper bumpers and black exterior enhancements, and there is an athleticism to the i4 that's appealing, controversial face aside.
The i4 has a largely blanked out fascia, even these M wheels have been designed with aero-efficiency in mind and you get these flap-type door handles that feel straight out of the 2000s. These tricks are here because the i4 has a slippery 0.24 drag coefficient.
2022 BMW i4 price, verdict
The BMW i4 seems to make very few excuses for itself just because it is an EV. The 590 km range should mean that range anxiety won't be gnawing at you despite our patchy charging infrastructure. The i4 still engages you in the way a BMW should, you get a plush cabin with the latest technological trickery and looks that will at least draw attention. But here's the clincher, at Rs 69.90 lakh, the BMW i4 is no more expensive than its ICE rivals.
Starts Rs 69.9 Lakhs