The BMW i4 changed my opinion about EVs. Here’s why…
By Charlie Cooksey, Gulf Insider
Reviewing this car involved me flying to Nice, on the stunning French Rivera, and staying at a beautiful 5-star hotel right on the seafront. Yes, I have a tough job.
Looking out from my suite to the sea is breath-taking. The water is a beautiful azure blue and almost surreal. Interestingly, the colour of the sea is the same as the blue ring on the BMW badge affixed to every car in their EV (Electric Vehicle) range. Is this clever marketing from BMW, or coincidence?
Anyway, before I talk about the car itself, let me say a few words on EVs. I’ve been test driving various EVs from several manufacturers for a couple of years now. But, until now I had only driven EVs for fairly short journeys on the roads of Bahrain and Dubai.
Driving on the French highways enabled me to do some long-distance driving and I really got a feel for EVs and learnt how capable they are – in this case, the BMW i4.
Two versions of this car are available: the eDrive40 and the M50.
The entry-level eDrive40 is a rear-wheel drive with one electric motor which produces 340bhp, accelerating from zero to a hundred kph in 5.7sec, with a range of 590 kms. The top of the range M50 is a four-wheel drive with two motors, producing a massive 544bhp, accelerating from zero to a hundred kph in 3.9 seconds, with a range of 521 kms.
The brakes are excellent. The regenerative braking system harvests energy that would otherwise be wasted when you brake – making it easy to slow down smoothly. The braking system has an Adaptive mode that uses data from the navigation system and onboard sensors to make anyone a better and safer driver. For example, when you’re on a highway and take your foot off the accelerator the car coasts as normal, but if a bend or lower speed limit is coming up, it slows you down.
There’s no engine noise from the i4 – because there’s no engine. If you switch to Sport mode, you do get a synthetic and futuristic electric sound. This was created in a collaboration with film music composer legend, Hans Zimmer and it gets louder and more intense the faster you drive. When I was told about this synthetic sound feature I thought it sounded gimmicky – though I really enjoyed it whilst I was driving.
The i4 offers beautiful build quality. Everything you touch feels well-made and first class.
What I particularly admire about the i4 is that it hasn’t gone for an overly futuristic type of design, and neither the interior nor exterior shout out that it’s an EV. It’s first and foremost a 4 Series. BMW has stayed true to the 4 Series heritage and design. The only obvious clues that this is an EV are the subtle blue exterior badging and, inside, blue touches for the stop/start and gear shifter.
I was also impressed with the range of the car, we did perhaps 250-300 kilometres of driving with 20% battery left in the ‘tank’. We made a stop on the highway at a service station that was fully equipped with EV charging points, plugged the charger into the i4, and relaxed with a coffee. We returned to the car charged with over 80% of power in just 30 minutes. EV battery technology just keeps getting better.
Those who have not yet driven an electric car will initially find it a strange experience, but you soon become accustomed. The Gulf region still has infrastructure developments to make when you compare the progress made in Europe to cater for EV’s, but I can say that I’m now beginning to appreciate and love electric cars, and I really loved driving the BMW i4.
For more information, and to arrange your own test drive in Bahrain, contact BMW Bahrain on +973 1775 0750.