More accurately, the BMW i4 is a 3 Series EV in a sexier four-door coupe clothing. The coupe-like roofline merges into the rear, giving the 4 Series a sense of motion even when stationary.
The frameless windows contribute to the seamless flow of the design, while the bold character lines emphasize the muscular wheel arches. The sleek LED taillights continue the brand's signature L-shaped graphics.
As visually appealing as these are, the beaver front grille has yet to grow on this writer. It isn’t so much about size, it’s about how it fits.
BMW has made large vertical grilles in the past, but those cars were made to match a big grille, to which it complemented the rest of the design. This seems like it was added later without much thought, trying to go in a new direction.
Front grille aside, yours truly is a fan of the overall sleek silhouette with its elongated hood, pronounced hips, and low-slung stance.
2023 BMW i4 eDrive40 – Interior
Stepping inside, you’re greeted by a familiar sight. It’s the architecture of the G20 3 Series facelift (LCI) with its dual widescreen panel - a 12.3-inch BMW Curved Display that is merged with a 14.9-inch infotainment display, running on BMW Operating System 8.
Like in the G20 LCI, the climate control settings are embedded onto the screen and you're left with no option but to await the boot-up of the 14.9-inch touchscreen before being able to fiddle with the A/C.
With this being an EV, there’s no concern of additional loads during startup so it’s easier to just leave the A/C on permanently, though it still takes a while before cold air is channelled.
Also read: Review: 2023 BMW 330i M Sport (G20) - In the era of connectivity, this reminds you of driving
The OS 8 itself is intuitive enough to use its tiled icons menu and widgets on the home screen, not unlike smartphones. Though the compromise here is that the software has to cater to both touch functions and the use of a scroller. The scroller is useful when operating on the move but the general interface is more touch friendly.
Wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay works a treat every single time without skipping a beat, and the Harman Kardon sound system is one of the better executions from the brand – tonally balanced, well-integrated sub, with a respectable level of detail and separation.
General quality from build to material selection resembles that of the 3 Series. Soft plastics cover the upper portion, while the lower half features harder plastic with silver trim pieces in between. Nothing mind-blowing but it does feel well put together.
The main issue I have, personally, is the compromised packaging. Being a combustion engine platform that’s converted to an EV – rear-wheel drive platform at that – there’s a huge central tunnel and high floor, in a low slung four-door coupe.
This compromises even the driving position that doesn’t feel quite as sweet as in the 3 Series, being slightly perched.
Towards the back, the elevated floor results in a loss of thigh support, exacerbating an existing issue with the 4 Series Gran Coupe – the narrow door opening and low roofline, making entry and exit a source of frustration. A redeeming quality would be the sizable boot space and the practical hatch-style opening.
2023 BMW i4 eDrive40 - Driving Experience
Its biggest redeeming quality is perhaps the way it drives. Think G20 330e in EV mode and you’re not too far off. The inherent sharpness from the G20 is present and the chassis responds almost as if it’s reading your mind.
Like every BMW, all the controls have been finely tuned to complement each other, leading to a unified overall experience. The throttle pedal delivers the precise acceleration your foot demands, while the steering allows you to navigate with pinpoint accuracy. The rear-mounted electric motor provides the lovely sensation of being pushed as you accelerate out of a corner.
Speaking of the electric motor, the BMW i4 eDrive40 completed the century sprint in 5.4 seconds as tested, 0.3 seconds quicker than claimed. The car also manages traction incredibly well, carefully limiting wheelspin without being bogged down, which is one of the advantages of an EV.
Strangely, the brakes aren’t quite as natural as the iX. There’s a bit of a guesswork during the initial pedal travel to judge how much input is needed. It’s still ahead of just about any Mercedes EQ in terms brake calibration, but somehow falls short of the iX.
Body control is impressive, particularly in Sport mode where the adaptive suspension stiffens up, and just gives the driver oodles of confidence to thread through the bends. It masks its hefty weight well but when pushing through more intricate sections, the mass becomes evident. There’s no escape from physics.
2023 BMW i4 – Ride Comfort
The substantial weight is also evident in the way it rides, like just about every other EV. The adaptive suspension is on the firmer side, even in comfort mode, though it still does a great job at absorbing and rounding off some of the roughest edges on the road.
But going through sudden dips or bumps will cause secondary vertical movements and the body jounces a little. Admittedly, only those with a sensitive gyro sensor will detect it and potentially find it to be an issue. To the rest, it’s a relatively well-sorted ride in the realm of EVs.
Seats could offer a more evenly supported back for this writer. The lack of a lumbar adjustment meant that my lower back began protesting after longer journeys. Thigh support, however, is great as always with BMWs and the extendable seat base.
As mentioned earlier, the high floor has sacrificed thigh support at the rear and the seat back might feel rather upright for certain individuals. This means the overall comfort experience at the back is not particularly favourable.
In terms of cabin insulation, all sources of noise are well-muted, be it tyres or wind even at triple-digit speeds. It’s not pin-drop silence like the Mercedes EQS or even the iX, but it’s still amongst the quietest cars we’ve tested.
|2023 BMW i4 eDrive40 - Cabin noise level
2023 BMW i4 eDrive40 – Energy Consumption
Over a 115 km trip with a mix of city and highway driving, the trip computer indicated an average energy consumption of 16.8 kWh/100 km. Regenerative braking was left in moderate for majority of the journey, with the occasional switch to ‘B’ mode (one-pedal drive) in stop-and-go traffic.
The calculations revealed the actual efficiency at 18.7 kWh/100 km based on energy delivered after two consecutive charges to 80 percent.
Although some argue that all EVs offer a similar driving experience, discerning drivers will hold a different view. While the feeling of acceleration from an electric motor might exhibit similarities, every other aspect that a driver engages with, such as the steering and pedals, can shape an entirely distinct driving experience.
The 2023 BMW i4 eDrive40 is one of those that has a distinct driving characteristic, which follows closely to the G20 3 Series. Being based on a combustion engine platform has resulted in a compromised interior packaging, but whether this poses a significant issue will depend on your expectations.
If, like me, you prefer an EV that is free from the constraints of a traditional combustion engine car and want a lounge-like interior, then the BMW i4 isn’t the EV for you.
But if you’re in search of a sleek four-door coupe that drives as sharp as it looks, then you’re looking at a solid option. There's now a less expensive eDrive35 variant too.
Also read: The better Tesla Model 3? Lower priced BMW i4 eDrive35 launched in Malaysia, priced almost half of a 4 Series