BMW: Here is the proof that electric driving can be exciting
Some highly tuned models sounded the part back in the day but many less melodious cars were simply earaches on wheels.
So, having an electric motor whirring almost silently would be fabulous, don’t you think? Perhaps, until you try driving around a supermarket car park and suddenly you are an accident waiting to happen.
Pedestrians have grown accustomed to the danger of cars approaching. But today’s electric automobiles need an artificial sound simply to be safe. Who would have thought!
BMW – whose i4 I am testing here – have thought it through. If silent cars are dangerous, why not create an artificial sound?
That’s what BMW did. The company called it IconicSounds Electric. The audio experience is dependent on your selected driving mode: choose between a powerfully dynamic sound with clear power-load feedback in Sport mode; balanced acoustics and slight load feedback in Comfort mode, or high acoustic comfort without additional sound staging in Eco Pro mode.
So, there you have it. You can configure your sound to suit your driving.
It surprises me that sound rather than performance seems to be the talking point at the moment.
We might have imagined a few years ago that electric cars would be sluggish but nothing could be further from the truth. Electric power delivers instantly – much quicker than a petrol or diesel engine.
So, the i4 tested here is as quick as it looks. I must admit I’m still getting used to the BMW titles and to me, i4 sounds like it will be an all-electric MPV or SUV. Actually, it’s a gran coupe in true BMW tradition.
It looks lean and sporty and it’s hard to imagine that it doesn’t have a meaty petrol engine under that long bonnet, but this is a pure EV.
This model is something of a landmark. It brings striking gran coupé all-electric mobility to the heart of the BMW brand.
The line-up includes the i4 M50, the first purely electric performance car from the company.
The i4 is the first all-electric premium car from the BMW Group aimed at the traditional core of the midsize market. Its combination of sportiness and long-distance ability has been achieved with an efficient drive system technology and intelligent lightweight design, which enable exhilarating driving dynamics and an impressive range without the need for disproportionately large and heavy batteries.
The i4 expands its usability with flexible charging options. Notably, range of up to 102 miles can be delivered within a 10-minute charging stop.
The top-class powertrain and chassis systems interact with great precision to produce a driving experience that no competitor can offer, particularly from a standing start.
The electric all-wheel drive reacts with extreme sensitivity to the speed of the wheels at each axle. If necessary, it can optimise traction and handling stability by adjusting the drive torque accordingly, without the traction control even having to intervene.
The i4 combines the hallmark sporting aesthetic of the brand’s coupés with the comfort of a four-door car and a practical appeal enhanced by features including a large tailgate.
The stretched proportions and clean lines bring fully-electric exclusivity and the sporting prowess for which BMW is renowned to the premium midsize segment. The centres of innovation in the BMW i4 – the blanked-off kidney grille, the battery technology in the floor area of the car and the sporty diffuser elements, which optimise the car’s aerodynamics – are highlighted by accents in BMW i Blue.
The electric drive system powering i4 produces not only zero local emissions but also almost nothing in the way of sound when driving at low speeds. To alert other road users that the i4 is approaching, it comes with an acoustic pedestrian protection system as standard. Developed specially for electrified BMW vehicles, the artificially generated sound is emitted through exterior speakers and is active up to driving speeds of up to 13mph.
An unmistakable, model-specific acoustic experience can also be enjoyed in the interior of the BMW i4. Pressing the Start/Stop button sparks an inspiring acoustic accompaniment that builds anticipation for the all-electric driving experience to come. This sound production was created as part of a collaboration between film music composer and Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer and Creative Director Sound at the BMW Group Renzo Vitale.
The i4 is not without plaudits. Celebrating the top electric and hybrid vehicles in the UK, DrivingElectric recognised BMW’s latest electric models with the i4 and i7 named best in their respective categories.Receiving its 11th accolade for 2022, the i4 took home the award for Best Electric Company Car. On presenting the award, DrivingElectric editor Richard Ingram said, “For years, the BMW 3 Series has been the company car driver’s top choice.
“But now, in the switch to electrification, there’s a new default; the i4 wraps up everything we love about its saloon sibling, with strong performance, low running costs, and a premium-feeling, user-friendly interior. It’s the new company car to beat.”
BMW i4 eDrive40 M Sport
Price: £56,070. With extra features the price came to £63,975
Engine: An electric motor generating 340bhp and 430Nm peak torque
Range: 367 miles
Charging: The i4 can go from 0 to 80 per cent charge in 34 minutes when using a 205 kW charging station. Or you can recharge up to 101 miles range in 10 minutes. At home, a Wallbox gets the i4 to 100 per cent charge in 13 hours.
Performance: Top speed 118mph and 0 to 60mph in 5.7 seconds
Warranty: Three years’ unlimited mileage