Every day seems to bring some new triumph to the EV community; some new amazing speed record or an exciting new design to drool over. With record sales showing that the public seems at least a little eager to adopt these electric steeds into their stables, many automotive manufacturers are feeling the stress of last year’s global pandemic which remains a source of turmoil thanks to the lasting effects of various shutdowns and emergencies. Chip shortages and raising steel prices are contributing to delays of the newest hot vehicles, like the Ford Mustang Mach E.
Ford has promised to use its legendary assembly line heritage to spring to the forefront of the electric revolution. They’ve promised us a 300 mile range on a loaded down F-150 Lightning and already showed us the excellence of that strange crossover/hatchback, the Mach E. I have to admit that they’re looking pretty good for it; if they can deliver on their orders. Many prospective Bronco owners are still waiting on their new Goats to arrive. BMW, on the other-hand has been a little less impacted by the shortage because they rely on smaller production numbers, so hopefully we’ll actually get to see this new BMW i4 when it’s supposed to arrive in early 2022.
The BMW i4 eDrive40 is the base model and only uses one motor to apply power to the rear wheels. The power output, around 335 horsepower and nearly 320 pound-feet of instant-on torque, is a little ‘weaker’ than the 5.7-liter Hemi crammed under my Challenger’s hood, but still more than enough to make the little Bavarian sedan a blast to drive. The eDrive40 should be a fun entry to Bimmer-ownership and electric-vehicle ownership, sharing the basic architecture that’s made the 3-and-4-series BMWs such great vehicles for the last several years.
The sportier model, the i4 M50, adds a motor to the vehicle to power the front wheels. This cuts the i4’s 0-60 from 5.7 seconds with the eDrive40, to a fun 3.9 seconds in the M50. The M50 package isn’t just an extra motor though. It’s got an extra strut tower brace and some other goodies to help stiffen up the chassis and with traction control at all four tires, the i4 M50’s launch control is sure to bring every bit of that intense acceleration to the driver’s use. I wonder how BMW’s software compares to Ford’s G.O.A.T. modes in the Bronco?
Obviously the M50 isn’t geared for off road, but the traction control should still be excellent- the X-drive system found in their ICE cars has been a delight every time I’ve gotten to experience it, even in Florida’s torrential downpours, though I’ll say that my Subaru Legacy’s symmetrical AWD seemed just as capable, if not more-so than X-drive, but the Legacy also had a lot less power at hand than any of the BMWs that I’ve driven.
Driving around in my Dodge Challenger R/T is one of the best parts of my day. Taking it to and from work offers a degree of serenity in my otherwise convoluted and cluttered life. The interior of my vehicle is a little oasis that, because of its small size, is easy to keep clean. BMW really knows how to do interiors, as evidenced by those found in the i8, and now in the i4. With sweeping displays and wood grain accents, the i4’s cockpit doesn’t feel quite like a space-ship, but instead like a classy, albeit modern car. The i4 should be around the same size as the current BMW 4-series Gran-coupe, so it’s actually got more leg room, more head room, and more room in the back than my Challenger does too. It’s almost like BMW expects people to have friends with fewer than 4 legs. With 4 doors, it’ll be easier to keep the back seat clean though, so that’s a plus.
All-in-all, I would say that BMW has offered us an enjoyable glimpse at their new sedan. I’m sorry, it has 4 doors, it’s a sedan to me, even if the origin of the word simply refers to a shortened carriage. The i4 looks like it will be great fun to drive, if they can get it on the streets, alongside the Rivian R1T or Porsche e-Macan that’s rumored to be in the works. I can’t say that the i4 is stunning in the same way that the Rimac Nevera is, but few things can compete with a sub-2-second 0-60. Even a Ferrari SF90 Stradale, equipped with both a big Italian V-8 and three electric motors failed to pull ahead of this Croatian automotive miracle.
Frank DiMuccio has been interested in the automotive industry since his childhood. In high school, he spent his free-time rebuilding his car and earned a newfound enjoyment of the grease and sweat of working in the garage. He can be followed on Twitter at @Fdimuccio4 for daily automotive news.