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2022 BMW i4 eDrive40, All you want to know & watch about a Great Car

 

2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 First Test: You’d Almost Think It Isn’t Electric

How this new electric four-door looks, works, and drives makes it an ideal EV for the EV-averse.

2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 20r
bmw i4 Full Overview

Pros

  • Practical hatchback cargo area
  • Anxiety-reducing driving range
  • Classic BMW ride/handling balance

Cons

  • Fake grille
  • Misguided technology functions
  • Snug rear seats

Think about electric vehicles you’ve seen so far—they’re a little weird, no? Most have a certain je ne sais quoi that alludes they’re not cars quite like you’re used to. Some drivers find these EV idiosyncrasies appealing and enjoy signaling to others that they’ve ditched gasoline—but what  about those who would buy an EV if not for those off-putting oddities?

The 2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 seems built expressly for drivers with curiosity for what this electric schtick is all about but who’d rather not deal with the futurism for futurism’s sake. The Bavarian brand’s first all-electric hatchback sedan looks like a normal BMW, and better yet, it drives like one, too—becoming all the more palatable for the EV-curious.

2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 24

What Are You Looking At?

By now you may have seen a 4 Series Gran Coupe out and about. Revealed for 2022, it’s the extra-door-ified version of BMW’s 4 Series two-door coupe and looks essentially identical to the i4.

That means the i4 bears the same swine-inspired grille motif as the 4 Series, only here less justifiable—there’s no engine behind it, after all, so it’s just solid plastic. Some hate it—even more here, where it isn’t even functional—while others won’t. On the upside, the i4 likewise looks uncontroversially good from every angle except the front, sauntering along with a fastback roofline and palette of expressive paint choices. As of now, BMW makes only a four-door i4, no coupe or convertible like the 4 Series.

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All of this 4 Series familiarity means the i4 isn’t shouty about being an EV. Most who see it will assume it’s a regular BMW, offering owners an incognito experience. Only keen observers will notice subtleties like the tweaked fascias, different wheels, missing exhaust tips, and blue trim accents that differentiate the i4.

2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 19r

Drives Like A BMW Should

With the entry-level eDrive35 below it and performance-oriented M50 above, the eDrive40 model tested here represents a middle ground of the i4 range. It starts at $56,395, and this test car—equipped with niceties like premium leather, upgraded wheels, a head-up display, and expanded driver aids—totaled $64,820.

In classic BMW form, the i4 eDrive40 is rear-wheel drive, those tires turned by a motor generating 335 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. It posted a 4.7-second 0-60mph time, accomplished simply by standing on both pedals then releasing the brake. This time ties the entry-level Porsche Taycan and edges ahead of the single-motor Tesla Model 3. Today’s comparable gas-powered BMW 3 Series and 4 Series models are typically equipped with six-cylinder engines and all-wheel drive, helping them launch to 60 mph in closer to 4.0 seconds.

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On the road, the i4 eDrive40 is quick enough to have some fun, yet not so much for things to get out of hand. That is aided by the accelerator pedal’s tuning, which is damped such that only a sudden stomp reveals the motor’s instant torque delivery. Otherwise, power pours out smoothly and predictably.

Slowing down in EVs can be an interesting exercise, as their regenerative braking effect makes it so that only the right-side pedal needs be used for speed control: Press on it to go faster, and lift off to decelerate, even down to a complete stop. The i4 eDrive40 isn’t one of those EVs. In any of its selectable regen strength levels, you’ll press the brake pedal often—not problematic, especially considering the i4 eDrive40’s satisfactory 117-foot 60-0-mph stopping distance.

Pushing the shifter over to the “B” setting advances the i4 to its strongest regen setting, which will slow the i4 to a stop, but not at a rate sufficient for common driving situations, which means the i4 ignores the potential benefit of one-pedal driving.

In any case, this i4’s balance between ride comfort and handling poise demonstrates BMW’s chassis tuning expertise. This harmony makes the i4 eDrive40 a nice place to be whether you’re cruising around town or find yourself on a twisty back road, and it’s backed up by 0.89 g average skidpad grip and a 25.8-second, 0.73-g average figure-eight result, each a respectable outcome for this type of vehicle, electrified or not.

2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 4

A Few Interior Gripes

Like the 4 Series Gran Coupe, the i4 lacks an enclosed trunk. Its hatchback configuration makes loading cargo easy, and when the second-row seats are folded down there’s space akin to that of some small SUVs. However, also like the 4 Series Gran Coupe, rear passenger space (accessed via stubby rear doors) remains rather snug, with measurements close to those in the 4 Series coupe.

Luxury cars like BMWs are expected to be quiet inside, and it’s tricky to say whether this i4 is or not. In one sense it is, on account of how well it blocks out sounds from the outside world; traffic passing by is barely audible. In another sense it isn’t, due to the droning tire noise and resonances that occur over varied pavement.

For example, if the smooth concrete road you’re on transitions into gritty asphalt, the cabin suddenly becomes much louder. At least BMW’s so-called “IconicSounds,” meant to emulate engine noises, provide some amusing distraction (they can be turned off).

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BMW is following the unfortunate industry trend of eliminating physical buttons and knobs in favor of digital controls. Although this cleans up the cabin’s appearance, it complicates simple tasks—even adjusting the HVAC temperature or fan requires poking through the touchscreen.

That’s not eased by BMW’s new iDrive interface, which in attempting to mimic a smartphone’s app layout takes too much focus off the road. Despite that, the infotainment touchscreen and digital gauge display beside it are impressively large, crisp, and colorful.

2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 16

Just One Weird Thing

Shod in 19-inch wheels, this i4 eDrive40 is EPA-rated at 282 miles of range; models with 18-inch wheels get 301 miles of range. Helpfully, the range estimate shown in the car’s gauge display constantly updates based on your driving style, giving you an accurate picture of how much farther you can go before plugging in.

When you stop to recharge, it does so at a fairly speedy 200 kW, meaning it can make the most of public level 3 DC fast chargers common today. BMW estimates a charge time of 31 minutes for going from 10 percent charge to 80 percent under ideal conditions on such a charger. Expect that to take several hours on a level-2 home charger.

This is the strangest thing about the i4 eDrive40: the fact you have to plug it in. Otherwise, how it looks, functions, and drives is all remarkably familiar—it might even lull you into mistakenly pulling into a gas station. The concept of recharging a car still seems strange to many, but otherwise this BMW is compellingly approachable if you’re interested in making the switch.

Looks good! More details?

2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 Gran Coupe Specifications
BASE PRICE $56,395
PRICE AS TESTED $64,820
VEHICLE LAYOUT Rear-motor, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
MOTOR TYPE Brushed synchronous
POWER (SAE NET) 335 hp
TORQUE (SAE NET) 317 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION 1-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,708 lb (45/55%)
WHEELBASE 112.4 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 188.5 x 72.9 x 57.0
0-60 MPH 4.7 sec
QUARTER MILE 13.2 sec @ 108.1 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 117 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.89 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.8 sec @ 0.73 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 100/98/99 mpg-e
EPA RANGE, COMB 282 miles
ON SALE Now

Tested: 2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 Gran Coupe Breaks the ICE

The electrified 4-series Gran Coupe makes mincemeat of its 430i gasoline-powered counterpart, and we found meeting or beating its EPA range estimate to be easy.

2022 bmw i4 edrive40

To anyone who was concerned that electrification would ruin BMW’s core sedans, all we can say is this: You have nothing to worry about. The future looks bright, even at the single-motor end of the spectrum where the rear-drive 2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 resides.

As its designation suggests, the i4 is an EV take on the 4-series Gran Coupe. Its sleek four-door sedan-esque body is indistinguishable from its gas-powered counterpart’s and features the same longer roofline, frameless door glass, and rear liftgate rather than trunk. This absolutely works in the i4’s favor, as the Gran Coupe offers superior rear-seat space and better cargo access than any 3-series sedan. And it looks fantastic to boot. Besides, the name i3 was already taken.

2022 bmw i4 edrive40

We’ve previously tested—and been mightily impressed with—the high-performance variant of the i4, the M50, calling it “an EV M3” because, among other things, it outaccelerated the last M3 Competition we tested. The eDrive40 is the more mainstream, less expensive version, but in many ways that makes it an even more compelling EV, not to mention a serious alternative to its gasoline-powered counterpart, the BMW 430i Gran Coupe.

ICE-Beating Performance

In contrast to the M50, with dual motors making 536 horsepower and powering all four wheels, the eDrive40 has a single rear-mounted motor that sends 335 horses to its rear wheels. Still, that easily outclasses the 430i, whose turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four puts out just 255 horsepower. At the track, our eDrive40 scampered to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and dusted the quarter-mile in 13.4 seconds at 106 mph.

That makes it quicker than a rear-drive Tesla Model 3 Long Range, which reached 60 mph in 5.0 seconds and crossed the stripe in 13.8 seconds at 101 mph. Meanwhile, the last 430i we tested (admittedly a convertible, not a Gran Coupe; their engines are identical, and weight differs by little more than 100 pounds) achieved 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 14.1 seconds at 98 mph. Bottom line: The single-motor i4 is sufficiently quick.

2022 bmw i4 edrive40

HIGHS: Longer range than an M50, well-controlled ride, attractive and intuitive curved display screen.

It turns out to be even quicker in real-world acceleration situations, where direct-drive and instant torque (the 317-lb-ft peak begins at zero rpm and carries on to 5000) leads to total annihilation of the 430i, which must build boost and kick down to a lower cog in its eight-speed automatic before it can head off in pursuit.

The eDrive40 handles the 5-to-60-mph street-start test in 5.1 seconds, whereas the 430i needs 6.8 seconds. The rear-drive i4’s passing times of 2.0 seconds from 30 to 50 mph and 2.9 seconds from 50 to 70 mph are even more telling, with the 430i requiring 3.4 and 4.0 seconds, respectively.

BMW i4 Range Results

It’s not all about speed. Range, the other side of the EV coin, is an even bigger concern to many, and here the i4 eDrive40 handily outperforms the M50. Both i4 variants use the same 81.5-kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, and as is typical in such cases, the less powerful single-motor car delivers greater range. For the eDrive40, that’s an EPA-rated 301 miles with 18-inch wheels or 282 miles with the optional 19s, versus the M50’s 270 miles on 19-inch rolling stock or just 227 miles with high-performance 20-inch rubber.

2022 bmw i4 edrive40

Our eDrive40 tester was fitted with summer-spec Hankook Ventus S1 evo3 19-inch performance rubber, and it essentially equaled its 282-mile EPA rating in our more severe 75-mph highway range test by delivering a 280-mile result. Our 75-mph consumption worked out to 107 MPGe, which easily surpassed the EPA rating of 99 MPGe combined (100 city, 98 highway). It gets better: We averaged 108 MPGe over the 1336 miles we had the car.

This included 130 MPGe on a 158-mile random mix of city and highway driving, where light traffic held freeway speeds between 60 and 70 mph. Our maximum-attack run on Angeles Crest Highway was our worst “tank” at 85 MPGe, which maintained respectability because routine highway driving was part of getting there and back.

EV Sounds and Regen Braking

In the M50, we found the synthesized EV interior sound to be overbearing, but here the IconicSounds Electric (a side dish to the $875 Harman/Kardon surround-sound stereo upgrade, which you absolutely want) is less noticeable and can be turned off anyway—the better to enjoy the silence. Our eDrive40 emitted just 64 decibels in both the 70-mph cruise and wide-open acceleration tests, which pretty much means you’re simply hearing hushed levels of wind noise enveloping the sleek bodywork.

2022 bmw i4 edrive40

We were fortunate to sample two different eDrive40s on two different coasts. Both ran on 19-inch tires. One had the Dynamic Handling package ($1750), which includes Variable Sport steering, adaptive M suspension, and M Sport brakes, while the other had the standard brakes and fixed dampers. The standard-spec car is the one that landed near our West Coast testing grounds, so that’s the one we tested. In both cases, brake regeneration is adjustable.

A lateral slap of the shifter into the B setting represents an instant shortcut to the strongest level, but Drive can be programmed to deliver four other levels: low (coast), medium, high, and adaptive. Making that change requires delving into an onscreen menu, but with B always at the ready, an owner is likely to decide on a favorite Drive setting early and toggle between the two with the shifter from there on out.

LOWS: Not crazy fast like the M50, rear-only regen can make the friction brakes feel grabby.

2022 bmw i4 edrive40

That max-regen setting in the M50 rises to the level of one-pedal driving, but not so here unless you allow more space. Unlike in the dual-motor M50, regen acts solely on the eDrive40’s rear axle. Whenever you add friction brakes midstream, you’re suddenly involving the front axle and initiating weight transfer midstop.

In certain regen settings, this can make the brakes feel grabby toward the end of a stop, particularly with the M Sport brakes, which have more initial bite and 14.7-inch front rotors instead of 13.7-inchers. On the test track we engaged the lowest regen setting so the friction brakes did all the work. The result was a 169-foot stop from 70 mph and 365 feet from 100 mph, with the standard brake setup displaying excellent control and absolutely zero fade.

On the skidpad, our eDrive40 orbited the circle to the tune of 0.87 g, a smidge less than the 0.90 g we saw in a 430i. But the i4’s balance is far more neutral, to the point where disengaging the stability control is an instant ticket to an unofficial drift mode. We suspect the difference boils down to our test car’s 4699-pound weight, plus the use of the same 245/40R-19 front and 255/40R-19 rear tire sizes despite the eDrive40’s more rear-biased weight loading of 55 percent (versus 52 percent).

2022 bmw i4 edrive40

On the road, both suspension setups feel engaging and well controlled. The version with the Dynamic Handling Package struck the same tone as the M50, with the adaptive damper system’s Sport setting providing sharp response and the Comfort setting providing just what the name implies: agreeable daily-drive comfort.

But the standard fixed damping of our West Coast tester didn’t feel substandard, as it ingested all manner of road imperfections with aplomb and pasted a huge grin on our face when we pushed it hard in the mountains. We also found its steering to be accurate and predictable, even though it lacked the variable-ratio rack of the East Coast car.

Agreeable In-Cabin Tech

Inside, the driving environment is every bit as stylish, impeccably crafted, and logical as the M50, with the lack of carbon-fiber trim not spoiling the mood one bit. Perhaps that’s because our car was fitted with optional Vernasca leather seats ($1450) and the tech-fabulous curved-display screen ($1000), which comes paired with a head-up display.

It’s easy to scroll through the various menus using the touchscreen directly or the rotary controller, which remains a welcome means of navigation both between and within function areas, such as for selecting satellite-radio stations or searching for a phone contact.

2022 bmw i4 edrive40

The curved display is a prerequisite for the $1700 Drivers Assistance Pro package, because the screen hides a set of infrared driver-monitoring sensors, which allow the very capable lane-centering feature to become truly hands-free at 40 mph and below. Status lights turn green on the steering-wheel spokes when the system is available, but they’ll turn yellow as a sound is emitted if your gaze drifts away or traffic speed increases beyond 40 mph. It works brilliantly, but it certainly is an option you can skip if your driving routine doesn’t typically include traffic jams.

At a starting figure of $56,395, the eDrive40 chops a hair over $10K off the price of the M50. It’s also about $10K more than a gas-powered 430i Gran Coupe. But it is eligible for the maximum $7500 federal tax credit, which can typically be folded into a lease deal even if you don’t qualify outright. Even without that, the eDrive40 is absolutely worth the premium. It’s a fantastic look into an electrified BMW future that doesn’t leave fans of the brand out in the cold.

Specifications

2022 BMW i4 eDrive40
Vehicle Type: rear-motor, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback

PRICE
Base/As Tested: $56,395/$64,820
Options: Drivers Assistance Professional package (active driving assistant, extended traffic-jam assist), $1700; Oyster Vernasca leather, $1450; BMW curved display with head-up display, $1000; Premium package (heated steering wheel and front seats, lumbar support, ambient lighting), $950; Harman/Kardon surround sound, $875; Parking Assistance package (surround view with 3-D view, active park distance control), $700; 19-inch aero wheels, $600; Skyscraper Grey Metallic paint, $550; personal eSIM 5G, $300; wireless device charging, $200; drive recorder, $100

POWERTRAIN
Motor: current-excited synchronous AC
Power: 335 hp @ 8000–17,000 rpm
Torque: 317 lb-ft @ 0–5000 rpm
Battery Pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 81.5 kWh
Onboard Charger: 11.0 kW
Transmission: direct-drive

CHASSIS
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 13.7-in vented disc/13.6-in vented disc
Tires: Hankook Ventus S1 evo3
F: 245/40R-19 98Y ⋆
R: 255/40R-19 100Y ⋆

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 112.4 in
Length: 188.5 in
Width: 72.9 in
Height: 57.0 in
Passenger Volume: 90 ft3
Trunk Volume: 10 ft3
Curb Weight: 4699 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 4.8 sec
100 mph: 11.9 sec
1/4-Mile: 13.4 sec @ 106 mph
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 5.1 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.0 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 2.9 sec
Top Speed (gov ltd): 115 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 169 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 345 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.87 g

C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 108 MPGe
75-mph Highway Driving: 107 MPGe
75-mph Highway Range: 280 mi

EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 99/100/98 MPGe
Range: 282 mi

 

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