Heading into an era of more cars using electric power, BMW has a particularly lofty challenge: make sure to retain as much of the essence of their legendary sport sedans as possible.
The initial effort, which is set to arrive for 2022 , is the i4. "i" being BMW's designation for electric models, and "4" as in 4-series, the coupe variant of the 3-series. Yes, they call this 4-door a Gran Coupe, as it actually features a liftback design, combining a sleek roofline with practicality.
Step inside and it's like stepping into a current 4-series or 3-series. There's just no gasoline engine up front. Instead, you're propelled by an electric motor in the base of the i4 eDrive40, or dual motors in the i4 M50, with all the associated torque.
Aim the i4 to some corners and it's obvious that BMW was able to continue the feel of their cars that have tamed corners for decades. That's particularly the case with the M50 model. Perhaps intentionally, when parked, a casual glance might mistake i4 M50 for an M3.
The basic i4's range is about 300 miles, according to the EPA. However, choose the hotter M50 version, and range can drop, to 270 miles, or as low as 227 miles with the high-performance tire option. Like many current electrics, new BMW i models can take a DC quick charge at the growing number of public stations.
The i4 eDrive40 starts at $55,400 before options, and the i4 M50 has a base sticker of $65,900.
With gas prices at record highs, there are many new electric cars to consider in 2022
Since BMW has a long history of building sport sedans, it made sense that they'd kick off this new electric era with the sedan-like i4. Many of their competitors, however, are launching the EV lines with some sort of a crossover SUV. And so is BMW, with their other new electric entry, the iX
If the i4 resembles other BMW sedan models, the iX does the same for the brand's SUVs, though in a sort of funky, futuristic way.
Interior space is quite generous, and road trips should be a cinch with just over 300 miles of estimated range. Though this one does carry a somewhat lofty base price of $83,200. The test iX xDrive50 I drove, loaded with all sort of options, broke through the $100,000 barrier by a few grand.
Two electrics up, and one down at BMW. The scrappy i3 compact goes away after this year with the new arrivals having wider appeal. It did pave the way for these new ones when it arrived in 2014, but its size and range make it less appealing to buyers than it once was, given the other electric vehicles on the market today.
BMW has not announced plans to go electric exclusively in the future, at least not so far. But as electric vehicles begin to integrate themselves into personal transportation more and more, this German brand is doing its best to keep its long-time customers happy, with models that are both futuristic and familiar at the same time.