BMW i4 eDrive40 2022 Review : An i4 an eye
Singapore - Rear-wheel drive, almost 50:50 weight distribution, generous power figures, that’s a good recipe for a driver’s car. Notwithstanding the fact that BMW’s i4 eDrive40 is an electric car outfitted with the latest and greatest in electrification tech from BMW, it is still a great driver’s car.
We’ve been in and around electric cars for the better part of the decade, and even more frequently in the past two years. But a large number of EVs in Singapore come wearing the bodyshell of a crossover. As a matter of fact, there are only a handful of electric cars that aren’t crossovers.
So getting behind the wheel of the BMW i4 eDrive40 here in Singapore was a rather refreshing change of pace. Although technically a liftback, it’s the only three-box sedan-style vehicle within BMW’s electrified “i” stable. More importantly, it still delivers on BMW’s promise of “Sheer Driving Pleasure”.
While purists may cry foul at the loss of an internal combustion engine, we happen to think that the i4 with its 5th-gen eDrive technology more than makes up for the lack of an ICE powertrain. But more on that later.
BMW i4 eDrive40 - Exterior
Admittedly, this isn’t a car that’s new to us. We’ve actually tested the i4 eDrive40 alongside its M counterpart, the BMW i4 M50, in Melbourne, Australia. However, the eDrive40 we drove in the land down under was optioned out with an assortment of goodies from BMW M. Aggro bodykit, aggro rims, M sport brakes and numerous M badges. Additionally, the car there had numerous other additions like a full 360-degree camera system and BMW Laser lights.
The car we’re testing here in Singapore isn’t as fully loaded. But while it may have fewer options than the car we sampled in Melbourne, it still looks the part of a smooth, low-drag EV saloon. Dare I say it, it looks like a concept car that just rolled off the stage at a motor show.
The front fascia, dominated by BMW’s signature large kidney grille, is devoid of unnecessary sporty accoutrements and vents. The grille itself is sealed off with a textured panel, like we see on the iX3 crossover. And accentuated by a blue outline to distinguish it from the bevy of ICE powered 4 Series cars. The largely blank face is only disrupted by the addition of two air curtains housed on either ends of the lower bumper.
Similarly, the sides and rear profile are also sculpted to be as fluid as possible, with flush door handles and a smooth bumper panel. Even the 19-inch rims are aerodynamically optimised with plastic inserts to reduce turbulent airflow around the car. All of which contribute to its slippery Cd 0.24 drag coefficient. We’re told that the eDrive40 achieves a maximum range of 590km on the WLTP cycle, and we’ve no doubt that the car’s aero trickery contributes to a significant amount of said range.
BMW i4 eDrive40 - Interior
Concept car looks aside, the interior is more conventional BMW. Nowhere near as opulent and grandiose as something like the iX crossover, still deeply rooted in tradition. BMW tradition, that is. You have the same dashboard, the same centre console panel, iDrive controls and the same switchgear as a 3 Series or 4 Series Gran Coupe. No metal switchgear like the car we tested in Melbourne, or ‘Galvanic Embellishments for controls’ as BMW calls it.
However like the iX crossover, the i4 gets BMW’s curved display with a 12.3-inch gauge cluster and 14.9-inch infotainment display housed within a single panel on the dash. The whole system runs off BMW’s latest generation operating system 8, which expands on the touchscreen functionality of the iDrive system. Some of the car's functions can also be accessed through BMW's aptly named 'My BMW' app, allowing you to lock/unlock your car or pre-condition the climate settings.
This base model car doesn’t come with body-hugging bolstered sports seats or a thick-rimmed M sport steering wheel like the car we drove in Melbourne. The latter feature, or lack of it, I actually preferred. After all, this isn’t a car you wrap your gloved hands around on the track. Where it excels best is on the public roads. Darting about traffic, coasting along the freeway or meandering through the narrow confines of multi-storey car parks.
BMW i4 eDrive40 - Powertrain
The i4, like its ICE-powered brethren, sits atop BMW’s adaptable cluster architecture platform (CLAR). So apart from the steering rack, power steering motor, HVAC systems and some wiring gubbins, there isn’t much else under the hood. The empty space would undoubtedly serve as an excellent crumple zone, but it does beg the question of why BMW chose not to fit a small frunk into the plastic cover.
Beneath the svelte Gran Coupe bodywork lies an 80.7kWh battery bank that is the largest contributor to the car’s 2,050kg kerb weight, and hidden from sight in the rear is an electric motor that sends 340 horsepower and 430Nm of torque to the rear wheels. As a consequence, you do lose a little under-floor storage when you stack it up against the ICE-powered 4 Series Gran Coupe. A caveat that isn't uncommon for an EV, but it'd be a negligible loss for most.
But one has to remember that this eDrive40 actually produces more horsepower and torque than the B48 2.0-litre turbocharged engine in both the 420i and 430i Gran Coupe. It’s quicker too, completing the 0-100km/h sprint in just 5.7 seconds, despite being almost 300kg heavier than those other cars. As we mentioned in our Australian press drive story, the i4 eDrive40 has a 45:55 front to rear weight distribution, which endows it with a surprisingly lively persona that belies its looks.
BMW i4 eDrive40 - Driving
We meant it when we said that the BMW i4 is a good driver's car. On the road, the i4 eats up the miles in a languid and unhurried fashion, soaking up road imperfections and pitted asphalt without hampering the almost zen atmosphere in the cabin. The only intrusions into the silence being the soft whine of the EV drivetrain and the muffled wind noise at highway speeds.
The test car we had didn’t come with BMW’s Driving Assistant Professional, which also means it doesn’t get the intuitive adaptive cruise control, adaptive braking regeneration, steering and lane control. But in a country that spans just about 50 kilometres end to end, it’s a feature that most drivers wouldn’t need.
If one were to leave the car in its most sedate driving mode (Eco Pro, with all driver aids on), the car actually behaves akin to an ICE-powered car. No immediate spikes in acceleration, no unwanted or unintended surges of torque to make your rear occupants queasy. As an added bonus, you’d get more kilometres out of your charge, even more so if your commute allows you to claw back some power under braking regeneration.
And when your battery percentage starts diminishing, the 80.7kWh slab of batteries can be charged at a max DC charge rate of 200kW, which can replenish in excess of 150km of range in just 10 minutes. If you're lucky enough to find a charger that can dispense that much energy that is.
However, that’s not to say the i4 eDrive40 doesn’t deliver its own dose of electrifying fun. The car handles its heft around the bends remarkably well, turning in with the same precision and poise as other BMW sedans underpinned by the CLAR platform. Dump the throttle in the car’s Comfort and Sport modes, you’re met with a more instantaneous hit of torque as the eDrive motor spools up to deliver its full 430Nm prowess. While it isn’t as formidable as the 544hp/795Nm that the i4 M50 produces on sport boost, the eDrive40 delivers brisk performance when you want it to.
BMW i4 eDrive40 - Conclusion
Sounds good, doesn’t it? But there is a minor catch. At the time of writing, the i4 eDrive40’s starting price of S$331,888 is a rather steep barrier to entry. However, it isn’t steep as the 430i Gran Coupe, which starts at S$354,888 and is less powerful than the electric Gran Coupe.
Granted, EV ownership does have its own share of barriers to entry. But these inhibiting factors are no fault of the i4. In fact, the i4’s running costs would probably be lower than its ICE-powered counterparts in the long run.
As is, the BMW i4 eDrive40 delivers on the best parts of BMW ownership coupled with the benefits of EV ownership. Who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?
PHOTOS Jay Tee
BMW i4 eDrive40
Battery 83.9kWh (80.7kWh net), Li-Ion, 400V
Electric Motor 340hp/430Nm
Electric Range up to 590km (WLTP)
Top Speed 190km/h
Dimensions 4783/1852/1448mm (LxBxH)
Weight 2050kg (wet)