It has been at least three years since the arrival in Europe of the Tesla Model 3 that German manufacturers have been chomping at the bit. We understand their excitement: an electric car designed by an American brand has become, almost overnight, the benchmark for high-end automobiles. A crime of lèse-majesté, committed in the face and under the beard of the Germanic tenors, cantors of the heat engine. With the i4, marketed since January, BMW is the first to launch a proposal directly competing with Tesla’s bestseller.
The Munich firm, firmly established as the world’s number one premium, has no intention of reinventing itself to stick to the electrification revolution. While the i3, which appeared in 2013 but had limited success, moved away from the brand’s codes, the i4 makes it a point of honor to comply with them. She slips into the clothes of the 4 Series Gran Coupé, a four-door with a slender line of strict Bavarian obedience. This car inherits the iconic and now gigantic BMW grille (closed for the occasion, because useless on board an electric vehicle), like the elegant and aggressive pencil stroke that makes the salt of the manufacturer’s sedans.
Ultra-chic interior with advantageous textures
In the passenger compartment, the presence of a 14.9-inch central screen and the reduced number of physical controls are all acts of allegiance to the digital world to which any self-respecting electric model must sacrifice. Be careful, no video games in shambles, fake wood fires on the screen, fancy alarm type Cucaracha or electronic whoopee cushion à la Tesla. This is not the kind of BMW. The interior presentation takes advantage of the know-how of a manufacturer who has become a master in the art of designing and executing ultra-chic interiors with advantageous textures. In this field, the American brand still has a lot of progress to make.
On the other hand, the i4 suffers from not having been designed on a specific platform, which prevents it from taking advantage of the advantages in terms of habitability provided by the small size of the mechanical components of an electric vehicle. . The space on board is fairly average, given the dimensions of the car, and the passengers located in the rear will also have to do with the presence of a cumbersome central tunnel that is completely useless.
From 59,700 euros
Being a BMW, it is necessarily in terms of driving and road behavior that we expect this car at the turn. No bad surprise: the performance is breathtaking with a 0 to 100 kilometers per hour (km/h) executed in 5.7 seconds on board the i4 eDrive40 version (340 horsepower), even in 3.4 seconds, if the we opt for the M50 version and its two engines delivering 544 horsepower. In truth, those numbers don’t say much, because it’s not that hard to spew horsepower out of an electric car. The excellent traction and the quality of the chassis, however, combine to make this rear-wheel drive very pleasant to drive, glued to the road like any “Béhème”. Or almost. When taking certain support, you feel a feeling of inertia, the origin of which is not very difficult to grasp.
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