BMW i4 already driven: Model 3 opponents in the pre-series test

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eDrive40 and M50 are a boon in terms of driving dynamics, but they don't really feel like BMW

BMW i4 already driven: Model 3 opponents in the pre-series test-opponents

Think really far back. And then a little further. But you probably won't find many BMW sedans that were hated for the way they drive.

That's just the thing with the people of Munich. The driving experience has to be right. The emotionality.

The problem is: the driving experience changes just as much as it last changed from hooves to wheels. And it is not so easy with the emotionality when suddenly everything is so terribly quiet.

On the other hand is BMW yes, now something like the veteran of electromobility, even if after the i3 and i8, a lot of the lead was lost. But it's only getting really serious now. The e-offensive is in full swing. The SUV iX3 is out on the market, the somewhat * clear * throat crossover iX also coming soon. And then there's the new i4. Call it a sedan or a gran coupe or whatever, but its segment, that is the heart of BMW, has to show who will be wearing their hat in the future.

BMW i4 already driven: Model 3 opponents in the pre-series test-already

Accordingly, it also sets the first tips against the competition at the advance appointment in the Maisach development center. "Just accelerate straight ahead, that's not enough for BMW," the presentation said. And the enthusiastic project manager David Ferrufino gives his baby the usual BMW nimbus of the "Ultimate Driving Machine".

The facilities for this could really be worse. Even if it is a little complicated with the construction kit. Basically the i4 is based on the 3 and 4 series. It also looks like the SciFi version of the upcoming 4 Series Gran Coupe. However, the double wishbone front axle and the multi-link rear axle have already been adapted to the changed framework conditions.

For example, both are firmly screwed to the battery case, which means a lot of extra rigidity. In addition, the lane grows in width compared to the 3 Series (front 26 millimeters, rear 12 millimeters) and the car has a much lower center of gravity. It is 51 millimeters for the eDrive 40 and 37 millimeters for the M50. The i4 takes over the stroke-dependent dampers from its burner siblings. At the rear, however, air suspension is standard.

Two model variants are available for the market launch of the i4. The eDrive40 with an electric motor at the rear, an output of 340 PS and 430 Nm, "classic" rear-wheel drive and a power consumption according to WLTP of 16 to 20 kWh / 100 km. The preliminary top model is the i4 M50 with an electric motor each at the front (190 kW) and at the rear (230 kW), a maximum output of 544 PS and 795 Nm, electric all-wheel drive and a WLTP consumption of 19 to 24 kWh / 100 km.

If these consumption values ​​seem comparatively low to you, it is because they are. BMW is proud to refer to its fifth-generation eDrive technology. This drive unit integrates the electric motor, power electronics and transmission in a common housing. This design principle enables a power density that is around 40 percent higher than previous electric drives. The latest version of the electric motors developed in-house by BMW have an efficiency of 93 percent. They also do without magnets and rare earths.

The eDrive technology in the i4 also includes a rather ingenious high-voltage battery. So that it does not destroy the "coupe" shape, it is only 110 millimeters high. It consists of 811 prismatic cells (which are produced CO2-free) and has a gross energy content of 83.9 kWh. According to the manufacturer, the weaker eDrive40 has a range of up to 590 kilometers, and the M50 has a range of up to 510.

As you can see, these are values ​​that are more likely to get Tesla mad. Mercedes and Audi do not yet have any direct competitors in this segment, but their previous products, such as the EQC or an E-Tron, do significantly less.

Direct current can be charged with an output of up to 200 kW. The battery charge level can be increased from 10 to 80 percent in around 30 minutes. At the home wallbox, the car should be full with 11kW in 8.5 hours.

The full-service concept also includes the BMW Charging Card, which guarantees a kWh price of 33 cents for AC charging at an Ionity charging station, for example. With DC charging it is 35 cents. In addition, BMW promises a so-called Total Cost of Ownership, i.e. the costs of purchase, maintenance, maintenance, etc., which should be 30 percent below those of a 440i Gran Coupe. Incidentally, the prices start at 58,300 euros for the eDrive40 and 69,900 for the M50. It starts in autumn.

This article gives you significantly more information on the technical details. The interior with its new, rather monumental curved display is also treated there. In the pre-series test car, the good piece was still largely camouflaged. Otherwise, people who are familiar with the 3 Series should also find their way around the i4.

The front seats are great as usual, a quick seat sample in the rear demonstrated decent legroom, but a relatively steep, slightly spartan rear seat. The trunk volume is 470-1,290 liters and you can take a maximum of 1,600 kilos on the hook if you want to watch the range as quickly as possible when tumbling.

So much for theory. But BMW doesn't just want to put a clean and ethically impeccable range monster on the road, it also wants a car that meets high dynamic requirements.

It starts with the eDrive 40. I'll spare you the nonsense of "we roll silently from the test site". And you can probably imagine that it shoots forward relatively brutally at the slightest touch of the accelerator pedal. The 0-100 km / h value is officially 5.7 seconds.

The rest feels like it feels in an electric car. The first two seconds it presses very well (in this case not more, but also not less), then somehow not more. Until you briefly take off the gas and then slap back in. Then the game starts all over again. Even if you already have a lot of speed on it. Curse and blessing of a performance that no longer really unfolds. So far, so predictable.

It is a little different with the lateral dynamics of the electric Gran Coupe. Here I had expected the currently so typical BMW jitteriness. An extremely fast, very nervous steering, an overall agility soaked in Red Bull that you have to like. But what is good form with traditional combustion models such as the new 4 Series or the Z4 does not seem to have any relevance in the case of a purely electric BMW. The result is absolutely beneficial. And very impressive.

The steering is one of the best that the Munich-based company has produced in the recent past. Very homogeneous, very natural, with great weighting. The car moves very cleanly, very flat and, considering its weight, amazingly agile, but doesn't make the mistake of showering the occupants with artificial sportiness.

Here, too, you notice how incredibly different the e-car behaves compared to the combustion engine, simply because a large part of the weight is very central and very low in the vehicle. Body movements, that it would sway or rock a little in fast corners, that can be forgotten here. Traction problems are also not an issue – at least on dry roads.

The i4 maintains a very close relationship with the road, achieves impressive cornering speeds, but does not buy this dynamism through nervousness or hard rolling behavior. He springs full, but comfortably. And it drives wonderfully well-balanced.

Picture gallery: BMW i4 M50 (2021) PreDrive

BMW i4 already driven: Model 3 opponents in the pre-series test-already

The same applies to the first electric vehicle with an "M" in its name. Despite the standard adaptive sports suspension, specifically tuned steering, additional struts in the front end and more negative camber on the front axle, the i4 M50 also shows no signs of over-engaged hyperactivity. Instead, it just drives very, very smoothly and confidently. And admittedly, MUCH faster than the eDrive40. Here the backrest is maltreated in a completely different way when you push the brush through.

The Bavarians promise 3.9 seconds for the 0-100 km / h sprint. These are not Porsche Taycan Turbo S levels of "Launch Control and I have to break", but the M50 is also quite capable of making stomachs and cheeks pale. A launch control start was then also part of the demonstration on the test site. The poor M2 Competition that had to take part in the drag race ate more dust than a truckload of brand-new Dysons.

Beautiful new world. And in this case, too, it is relatively difficult to believe that there are almost 2.3 tonnes on the road, including the driver.

Most likely with an ambitious pace on the brakes. The same recuperates in the M50 with up to 195 kW (with the eDrive40 it is 116 kW). If you want, push the gear selector lever from D to B, then the anchor takes on a much more rigorous life of its own and you can, in principle, drive with a pedal. For everyday use, however, it is probably easy to switch to the adaptive regeneration mode known from the iX3, which has been drilled out a bit for the i4.

In other words: he is now a little smarter and knows even better in which situations regenerative braking or sailing is called for. Everything works really well, you really can't complain. You really don't have to go into the iron yourself a lot anymore, unless of course you're on a racetrack.

Or a relatively well-developed handling course in this case. The M2, which had just been beaten as soft as a nappy, blaring away from the front, the i4 M50 glides sterile behind. He is agile. Very much, there is no mistaking it. And he's staying incredibly well on course. Traction is in abundance. Otherwise, neutrality is the key.

The always slightly mischievous, strongly rear-biased behavior of the well-known xDrive all-wheel drive in BMW's internal combustion engines can hardly be felt here. You can really tell from the super-smart power electronics, how they take the front axle with it when a slip occurs on the rear axle. But because nothing has to go through any clutches and drive shafts here, the whole thing happens so brutally quickly that the rear axle cannot really slip. At least that's how it seems to have been programmed.

It's very efficient, but also a bit bland and cramped. In connection with the constant power output and the lack of sound, there is no really emotional experience to set in on a closed route. Or to put it another way: there is more amazement at the result than joy at the way there. Buyers of an i4 should be able to more than cope with this small penalty.

All in all, with the i4, the Munich-based company has succeeded in making an impressive debut sports sedan. The nice thing is that you don't have to get used to a 3 or 4 series in terms of handling. On the other hand, this car offers unexcited but highly agile and sovereign driving dynamics that would look good on many a sporty combustion BMW.

The weighting in favor of the optimization of electricity consumption and the conservation of resources is exemplary and gives the Munich residents a unique selling point that should not be neglected. Let's see what it really looks like in practice. BMW seems to be able to do that with limousines simply. Even if everything else changes.

Picture gallery: BMW i4 eDrive40 (2021) PreDrive

BMW i4 already driven: Model 3 opponents in the pre-series test-pre-series

Technical data and price BMW i4 M50

engine Current-excited synchronous motor front and rear

power 258 hp front; 313 hp rear; System power: max 544 hp

Max. Torque 730 Nm (briefly 795 Nm)

drive all wheel drive

Acceleration 0-100 km / h 3.9 seconds

Top speed 225 km / h

battery 83.9 kWh

Electric range 510 km (WLTP)

Empty weight 2,290 kg

Payload 520 kg

Trunk volume 470-1,290 liters

Base price 69,900 euros

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