James LipmanCar and Driver
The rear-drive BMW i4 eDrive40 isn’t as crushingly quick as the dual-motor M50, but that makes it a much more compelling EV. It offers a very good balance of price, performance, build quality, and useful range.
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The i4 eDrive40 is powered by a single electric motor mounted in the rear, but its output of 335 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque easily exceeds that of the 430i, its gasoline-powered sibling, whose turbo 2.0-liter four offers 255 horses and 295 lb-ft.
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Like the M50, the rear-drive i4 eDrive40 is a variant of the 4-series Gran Coupe, with a stylish four-door hatchback body that gives the i4 superior rear-seat space (1.6 inches more headroom, 2.0 inches more legroom) and easier cargo access than the 3-series sedan.
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The eDrive40 with its 81.5-kWh battery is rated at 282 miles, but we essentially beat that in our 75-mph range test, where we officially pegged it at 280 miles because our policy is to round down to the nearest 10-mile increment.
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The i4 uses synchronous AC motors featuring a unique current-excited rotor that makes using permanent magnets unnecessary.
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The i4’s DC fast-charge capability is 200 kW, which isn’t as fast as some, but does make it worthwhile to plug in to 350-kW DC fast-charge equipment, which takes only 31 minutes to fill the battery from 10 to 80 percent.
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With struts up front and a multilink setup out back, our test car’s standard-tune suspension and nonadjustable dampers delivered an admirable balance of ride comfort and handling balance.
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The eDrive40’s single-motor rear-drive powertrain scampered to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and ran 13.6 seconds at 106 mph in the quarter-mile, but instant torque (the 317 lb-ft peak starts at zero rpm) and direct-drive make its passing times even more impressive.
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We found the Vernasca leather seats to be super supportive. You don’t need to spend M50 money to get an attractive and impeccably built interior that makes a Model 3 look crude by comparison.
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The optional curved screen is a joy to interact with, and it comes paired with a head-up display screen that makes it the easiest $1000 option to recommend.
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The curved screen is a prerequisite if you want the Drivers Assistance Professional package, which includes infrared driver-monitoring sensors embedded in the screen so the adaptive cruise system’s lane-centering feature can be entirely hands-free at 40 mph and below.
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