mReview: 2023 BMW i4 eDrive35 – A Solid and Futureproof Option
The BMW i4 eDrive35 preserves the spirit of its forefathers. There’s a sense that it is a product created by the same people responsible for some of the best driver’s cars in the world.
Just not in a way that you may be used to. Traditionally, a car’s soundtrack plays a big role in its enjoyment. Take that away and you run the risk of creating a mere appliance, something that feels functional yet hollow.
And that is one pitfall BMW has averted with this car. If you’ve spent any amount of time in a rear-wheel drive BMW, you’d instinctively be familiar with the way this car drives, especially on a good bit of road. You get the sense that an engine isn’t needed at all in this application, as it still feels engaging to drive even without the auditory burble of even the group’s four pot engines.
No Longer Polarising
The enlarged kidney grilles introduced with the G80 were controversial at launch, though they have gradually gained public acceptance. No longer are these grilles polarising, and BMW has at least attempted to better integrate this design language into the styling of the i4.
The lines from the corners of the i4 are less pronounced than in the M3, making it look more conventional than its sportier, petrol brethren. It helps that both ‘nostrils’ are now part of the same panel too. It is otherwise a typical BMW in terms of styling, pairing a low-slung fastback profile with signature BMW design touches.
You can be as incognito as you wish with your i4, if you do not want others figuring out it is an EV. Our press car had blue trim pieces throughout the exterior, which does give the game away, but you can have yours with these pieces finished in a more subtle black, for a more conventional exterior appearance.
There’s a surprising amount of overall space in the cabin, despite its silhouette and under-floor battery pack. I had little trouble in finding a comfortable driving position, and none of my passengers complained about having insufficient head or knee room.
Despite this being a supposed ‘barebones’ BMW, the eDrive35 is very well equipped. Both front chairs are motorised. It comes with a head’s up display and BMW’s OS8, which looks premium, is logically laid out and adds to the overall functionality of the vehicle.
Build quality is, expectedly, excellent too - brittle scratchy plastics do not make an appearance anywhere in the vehicle. Sustainability has also been built into the vehicle, as it comes equipped with vegan SensaTec leather as standard.
Surprisingly Engaging to Drive
There’s no denying that an internal combustion engine adds to the fun of driving. The sound creates an additional depth to the experience, and for many cars, evokes emotional responses in its users to mask any inadequacies in its handling.
Don’t get me wrong - with AWD and insane torque vectoring systems, modern high performance electric cars are a riot to drive, but for a different reason than a traditional ICE car. The i4, whilst obviously being electric, falls closer to the ICE experience than one of an EV.
It is the first time I’ve experienced the lack of an engine not affecting the way I feel about how a car drives. The chassis is genuinely well sorted (it is a BMW, what did you expect?), and the 282 bhp rear-mounted electric motor delivers smooth and consistent power at any road speed. Crucially, it does this whilst not overwhelming the chassis.
With less traction than a sportier car built on a similar chassis (cough M3 Touring), the i4 feels much more playful, and without heavy electronic gubbins up front, feels significantly pointier than almost any other vehicle on said platform.
You Sometimes Forget it is Electric
That is the highest praise you can bestow on an EV. It is a thoroughly capable electric vehicle, and one that requires next to no adaptation if you are coming from an ICE car. Regenerative braking in the i4 feels intuitive, and its range in the high 400s further adds to the car’s quality.
It isn’t all a bed of roses though. But the thorns here aren’t really significant in all honesty. As compared to a similarly equipped petrol 3 or 4er, there is definitely some additional stiffness in the ride. But you’d only notice it if you drove it and its petrol-powered brethren back-to-back (like we did during the BMW Test Fest).
It is definitely a worthwhile trade-off; the sacrifice to comfort is fairly minimal, and definitely tolerable on a daily basis. It also doesn’t look shabby; the looks were polarising when initially launched, but how often do you still hear people complaining about the kidney grilles?
So if you are on the fence, be on it no more. This is a solid and future-proof EV that you’d not regret buying!
|BMW i4 eDrive35 Specifications|
|Price: $360,888||VES Band: A1|
180 kW (DC), 11 kW (AC)
282 bhp, 400 Nm
4,783 mm x 1,852 mm x 1,448 mm
470 - 1,290 litres
Photo Credit: Acube Creative (@weareacube)
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