BMW i4 eDrive35 Drive Review Update : i Can See Clearly Now
Singapore - To date, my fave BMW i model is still the OG i3. Yes, that all-electric quirky cherub of a 2+2 city-car with a flash carbonfibre tub, suicide doors and distinctive looks.
BMW pulled no punches with the i3 and driving it around back then made quite a visual statement, especially since it was one of the first bespoke electric vehicles to appear in Singapore in 2014 (in both BEV and range extender (REx) guises).
And by ‘bespoke’, we mean it was built from the ground-up to be a BEV, as opposed to an adaptation of one of the brand’s ICE greatest hits.
However, then and even now, the i3 remains an acquired taste whose charms can only be appreciated by the discerning few.
At the time, all-electric vehicles were still very much a novelty and the i3 was the perfect embodiment of an all-electric city-car – in many ways, it still is to us: compact, 2+2 seating and nippy.
In some quarters though, it was regarded as too avant garde for its time, especially since those hoping to make the leap from ICE to EV were in search of a more conventional form factor… like a sedan or crossover, for instance.
It’s a smart-looking fastback, with equally smart tech inside thanks to BMW’s latest OS.
As far as Singapore is concerned, the 35 replaces the eDrive40 and saves you a little over S$1k in tax (a year) in the process, without a huge hit to performance.
The i4 is pretty much an electric four-door Gran Coupe with all the benefits of a sedan and the stylish, sporty appeal of a Coupe.
Visually, it wears the familiar blue design accents (including the vertical kidney grille surrounds) throughout that underscore its credentials as a BMW i model.
As a Gran Coupe, the i4 comes with a practical liftback rear as opposed to the sedan’s traditional boot.
The wide tailgate aperture accommodates bulky and odd-sized items, with the carrying capacity expandable from 470l to 1290l.
Inside, there’s the fully-digital BMW Curved Display, which combines a 12.3-inch information display with a 14.9-inch control display that characterises the brand’s i models, with enough tech to keep gadget fans happy.
However, I guess the burning question on everyone’s lips is, “How does the entry-level i4 fare in the driving stakes?”
The eDrive35’s 286hp / 400Nm are almost a dead ringer for the venerable E39 540i 4.4-litre V8’s 286hp / 420Nm that we remember having oodles of fun in back in the day, except the i4’s massive 400Nm happens to be on tap from standstill.
Personally, we never require our EVs to be overly powerful, especially when they’re intended as all-rounded transport around Singapore.
Even then, true to EV form, the i4 eDrive35 will zip-off the mark like a scalded cat before settling into a comfortable cruise.
However, we’ve saved the best for last, because the eDrive35 is also proudly rear-drive, just like the eDrive40 it replaces… and you know how highly BMW purists rate a rear-drive configuration.
There’s a deft agility to the eDrive35’s chassis that enables the keen driver to exploit the electric powertrain in the corners, so it’s a rewarding experience.
The 6secs the eDrive35 takes to go from 0-100km/h may not be the fastest in the context of today’s EVs, but the straight-line drag-race acceleration time is not exactly where driving enthusiasts like to place their chips.
Driving fans like to feel engaged by the car and this quality is even more important for BMW, a brand that has long been referenced as the 'ultimate driving machine'.
Nevertheless, despite its penchant for driving goodness, the i4 eDrive35 is sufficiently pliant to discharge its duties as comfortable grand tourer when the need arises.
PHOTOS David Khoo (Samsung Z Fold)
BMW i4 eDrive35
Battery 67kWh, Li-Ion, 400V
Electric Motor 286hp / 400Nm
Electric Range 406 - 483km (WLTP)
Top Speed 190km/h
Efficiency 15.8 - 18.7kWh/100km
Dimensions 4783 / 1852 / 1448 mm (L/B/H)