As a late Gen Xer, I grew up in an era when BMW’s cars were pretty easy to understand based solely on their model names. A 325i was a 3 Series with a 2.5 L engine, for example; a 540i was a 5 Series with a 4.0 L engine, and so on. BMW left that common-sense naming approach in the dust quite some time before it set a goal to have sold 2 million plugins by 2025, but even the new nomenclature gives some clues about where a new model fits in the range.
With a starting price of $51,400, the new i4 configuration undercuts the existing eDrive40 by $4,500. It also uses a single synchronous electric motor driving the rear wheels, although in the eDrive35, it has been derated to 281 hp (207 kW) and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm). That’s still sufficient to endow the i4 eDrive35 with a sub-6-second 0–60 time, and there’s a decent chance this might actually be the best driver’s car from the range.
I suspect the real savings come from the smaller lithium-ion battery pack between the i4 eDrive35’s axles. The pack now has a useable capacity of 66 kWh (70.2 kWh gross), compared to more than 80 useable kWh in the more expensive i4 versions. Fewer kilowatt-hours mean a shorter range, although BMW says the i4 eDrive35 should have an EPA range of 260 miles (418 km), and a fast-charge at up to 180 kW will restore the battery from 10 to 80 percent in 32 minutes.
Other than slightly less power and range, the new entry-level i4 comes with the same standard equipment as the more expensive eDrive40 version. BMW says US deliveries should begin in the first quarter of 2023.