You want an electric BMW but without the quirky design of the i3 or the astronomical price of the i8. What do you do? BMW now has a solution. The 2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 is the second new electric vehicle in the brand’s second electric revolution. The i4 joins the iX in offering fully-electrified BMW vehicles that are a bit more familiar to current BMW customers. At the same time, BMW is also hoping to draw away some customers from Tesla with these latest electric models.
Motor – The 2022 BMW i4 is available as an eDrive40 or as an xDrive M50. The latter has dual electric motors and over 500 hp. This eDrive40 version is the more down to Earth model and the volume seller. It has one electric motor that powers the rear wheels and it can produce 335 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque (250 kW & 430 Nm). This allows the 2022 i4 to accelerate to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds. It’s not the fastest time but it feels plenty fast on city streets thanks to the instant torque. Top speed is limited to 190 km/h (118 mph) but that’s plenty fast for us here in North America. If you want more performance, the M50 version of the i4 delivers nearly the same acceleration as the M4 Competition.
Battery & Charging – The i4 has an 81.5 kWh lithium-ion battery which can allow the i4 eDrive40 to drive for up to 484 km (301 miles). That is, depending on which wheels the car is driving on. The 484 km range is with the standard 18-inch wheels. With any other optional 19-inch wheel, the i4’s range drops to 454 km (282 miles).
The battery can be recharged in as little as 31 minutes from 10% to 80% with a 200 kW DC charger. From a more common 50kW charger, the same charge can be achieved in a little over an hour. Level 2 AC charging is maxed at 11 kW and the i4 can be fully recharged from 0% to 100% in just over 8 hours. Expect around 13 hours for the same charge from a 7.4 kW charger.
Braking – Just like the iX, the i4 has Low, Mid, High and Adaptive regenerative braking levels. Low, Mid, and High are not one-pedal drive modes but putting the drive selector into “B” will provide a one-pedal drive mode. The Adaptive regen braking mode uses the car’s sensors to detect other vehicles and the GPS system to determine where the car is. For example, if there’s a vehicle in front of the i4 and it’s being driven in a city, the adaptive regen mode will provide more regenerative braking. If you’re driving the i4 on a rural road, it will provide less regen braking. Personally, like in the iX, I don’t like this system. It’s inconsistent. It works as it is intended but the regen braking is never the same. I just leave it in the Mid mode and use the physical brakes to come to a complete stop.
Speaking of which, the standard brakes feel normal. There’s no weird transition between regen braking and the physical brakes. The brake pedal is firm when pressing hard on it but it has enough travel to allow for smooth stops. It feels like a normal BMW gas vehicle.
Handling – Unlike its bigger brother, the iX, the i4 was not designed on a bespoke electric vehicle platform. It rides on the CLAR platform which is shared with other gasoline vehicles such as the 3-series, 4-series, X3, and many more. This platform was designed with a BEV in mind and as such, the batteries are mounted in the floor just like many other bespoke EVs. This makes the i4 feel a little bit more planted around corners compared to its gasoline counterpart. The suspension is on the soft side which allows for some body roll but it’s balanced for both spirited driving and daily comfort. Plus you can opt for Adaptive M suspension should you want a firmer ride at the push of a button. The rear of the i4 sits on air springs but it is only the rear and there is no driver adjustment of the ride height available.
Steering is balanced for daily use and sporty driving with a light feeling steering wheel in the normal drive mode but firming up enough in Sport mode. As well, the i4 eDrive40 receives slightly slower steering but a faster steering rack can be optioned.
To drive, the BMW i4 doesn’t feel as sharp as an M or M-Performance car but it doesn’t feel as soft as a 430i either. It holds the middle ground. Plus with it being a RWD BMW, it will allow you to behave a little bit like a hooligan. Not too much though. Traction control can be turned off but it’s not fully disengaged like many other models.
Ride Comfort – For a BMW vehicle, this i4 eDrive40 is a great daily commuter. The semi-air suspension smooths out bumps in the road, even with the optional 19-inch wheels. As well, because the i4 does not have a traditional powertrain, it is smooth. Even more so on freshly paved asphalt. It feels as though you’re in a plane.
Interior Space – Because the 2022 i4 is not built on a bespoke EV platform, the interior dimensions are similar to the gasoline version of the 4-series. For the front occupants, the i4 provides enough legroom even for taller adults. Headroom is ok so long as you lower the seats. In the back, the i4 doesn’t have as much space for occupants. It has a little bit less space than the Tesla Model 3.
The i4 is a Gran Coupe design which means that the cargo area has a hatchback design. The cargo capacity with the rear seats up is 470 L (16.6 cu-ft) but with the rear seats folded, the i4 has 1,290 L (45.6 cu-ft) of cargo space. There is a little bit of storage underneath the floor but it’s barely enough to fit the thick charging cable. Also, there is nothing underneath the hood. BMW could have added a small storage compartment for this eDrive40 version of the i4 (the M50 version has an electric motor and auxiliary components under the hood). But instead it is just a giant empty space underneath the plastic cover.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The 2022 BMW i4 has a quiet cabin. Not many noises from the outside world are overly intrusive in the car. A little bit of tire and wind noise is audible but it is much less than the equivalent 4-series. This particular i4 came equipped with BMW IconicSounds Electric. These are sounds that are played through the audio system to mimic a sense of excitement and theater when accelerating in the i4. The sounds are more noticeable in the Sport drive mode but can be completely switched off if you choose to. However, while they will never replace the sounds of a V8 or an Inline-6 engine, they do provide some drama when driving more enthusiastically. These sounds were composed by Academy Award winning composer Hans Zimmer.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – The 2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 starts at $54,990 CAD ($55,900 USD, 2023 MY) with this demo vehicle being equipped to $71,890 CAD ($62,525 USD, 2023 MY). The BMW i4 is eligible for Government rebates and tax incentives. I should note that for the 2023 model year in Canada, the eDrive 35 version of the i4 was announced and it has a starting price of $54,990 CAD. The 2023 i4 eDrive 40’s starting price has been bumped up to $61,390 CAD.
Odds and Ends – In base form, the 2022 BMW i4 doesn’t have a whole lot of gadgets. What you’ll get is leatherette upholstery, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto connectivity, the curved dual screen layout for the infotainment system (14.9”) & driver display (12.3”), built-in navigation, power liftgate, power sunroof, push button start, keyless entry, and that’s about it.
To have some meaningful gadgets in the i4, you have to equip it like this demo vehicle. However, that is almost $17,000 in options. Some of the features that the car comes equipped with include surround view cameras with parking sensors and reverse assist, Harman/Kardon sound system, head-up display, heated seats all round, heated steering wheel, wireless phone charging, automatic climate control, enhanced automatic emergency braking with lane keep and evasive steering, built-in dashcam, ambient lighting, and 19” wheels with sport appearance package.
As for the infotainment, it is a daunting new system. It is BMW’s latest iteration of iDrive and some aspects of it do look similar to the previous generation but most of it looks new. Nearly every aspect of the vehicle is now controlled through the infotainment system. It requires digging through submenus upon submenus to try to find a specific item. Happily however, it is very customizable. The main screen has widgets that you can add or remove, there’s a suggestions menu that drops down, and the menu that shows all of the available apps and functions can be reorganized like as though it’s a smartphone. Also, some aspects of the car can be controlled through voice commands but from time to time the system gets a command wrong.
Interior Design – As the BMW i4 is based on the M440i Gran Coupe, the interior is almost the same. Apart from the dual screen layout, the interior is almost identical. Same steering wheel, same iDrive controls on the center console, and same cupholder and wireless charging placement. One annoying thing is that BMW changed the climate controls for the i4. They are no longer physical buttons beneath the air vents. Instead they’re built into the infotainment system. I don’t like that. Bring back the physical buttons! However, everything else inside the i4 feels familiar if you’ve stepped out of a gasoline powered BMW.
Exterior Design – The i4 has no need for a traditional grille or exhaust pipes and as such, it doesn’t have any. The grille is still the controversial design from last year’s 4-series and the exhaust pipes are replaced by a subtle diffuser. The styling is not to everyone’s taste but at least it does look more interesting than the egg that is the Tesla Model 3.
Safety – The IIHS and NHTSA have not yet tested the i4 in crash tests but Euro NCAP has and gave the 2022 BMW i4 a 4 out of 5 star safety rating.
In base form, the i4 has forward collision alert, front and side airbags, and intelligent emergency call. That’s it. To get advanced safety and driver aids you have to opt for the Premium Essentials package which includes automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot sensors, speed limit info, cross traffic alert, and rear collision prevention. For more driver and safety aids, you can opt for the Advanced Driver Assistance package which includes adaptive cruise control with stop/go function, lane keep, lane change assist, front cross traffic alert, and evasive steering assist. I understand the placement of the features in the Advanced Driver Assistance package but why are some more common features such as automatic emergency braking and lane keep not included as standard? A base Honda Civic has them but a luxury BMW doesn’t?
Warranty – The 2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 is covered by a 4 year / 80,000 km new vehicle warranty just like any other new BMW model. The battery pack is covered by an 8 year / 160,000 km warranty. For more information on Canadian BMW warranty, click here. For information on USA warranty information, click here.
Conclusion – While the 2022 BMW i4 is not a bespoke electric vehicle like the 2022 iX, it still feels like a BMW product but it is a bit smoother. It’s not the “Ultimate Driving Machine” but that’s what the i4 M50 is for. This eDrive40 makes daily commutes to work much more comfortable while still enjoying the aura of a BMW vehicle.
Thank you to BMW Canada for providing the vehicle. www.BMW.ca