As we pivot towards a greener world, carmakers are racing away behind-the-scenes to create exciting, innovative and eco-friendly transport for the future. While most are introducing electric vehicles, BMW has been at the forefront of electrification for some time. Let’s take a look at the Munich-based brand’s latest line-up, which ranges from boutique city cars, performance sedans and luxury SUVs. They all have one thing in common, though - sheer driving pleasure by-way-of electrification.
The original electric BMW, the i3 debuted in 2013 and saw instant success. Between 2013 and 2019, over 115 000 i3’s were sold in Europe alone. Released to instant acclaim, the i3 not only won UK Car of the Year 2014, but also snatched the crown at the World Car of the Year Awards, selected as the Green Car of the year and World Car Design of the Year.
Design wise, the i3 stands out on the road, the futuristic/boutique design still looking as fresh as it did in 2013. Cleverly disguised, the little electric BMW actually has five-doors. Access to the rear seats is granted via rear-hinged doors, allowing passengers to enter and exit with ease. Perfect as a city car, the 125 kW/250 Nm electric motor is good for approximately 260 - 310 km on a single charge, allowing eco-conscious commuters to zip about quickly and emission-free.
With a touch more power than the regular i3, the i3s boasts slightly more power (135kW/270 Nm), resulting in a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 6.9 seconds. This means the i3s can give a few petrol-engined hot hatches a run for their money. Despite the performance advantages, the sportier I3s doesn’t lose much in terms of range, with an expected range of 260 - 285 km.
Like the i3, the i3s has been blessed with the typical build quality that has become synonymous with the BMW brand. The interior of the i3 has been constructed with 25% renewable raw materials, making the cabin both premium and sustainable. As an example, textile upholsteries found in the cockpit are produced from 100% recycled polyester, while the elegant eucalyptus wood trim is sourced from 100 % FSC®-certified forestry.
BMW’s first-ever electric Gran Coupé, the i4 is every bit a driving machine. Sporting the larger Kidney Grille first seen on the combustion-engined 4 Series, the i4 has got plenty of presence. The aggressive styling hints at the power beneath, while the sleek body stretches over the wheels perfectly.
The aerodynamically styled profile not only gives a classic BMW look, but reduces drag and allows the i4 to travel further on a single charge. The i4 eDrive40 boasts a drag coefficient of 0.24, giving a phenomenal electric range of up to 510 km. An optional extra, the BMW IconicSounds Electric, allows vehicle sound to be channelled into the interior. Depending on the mode (Sport, Comfort or Eco Pro), your i4 will create different sounds in order to provide a holistic driving experience.
BMW i4 M50
M cars are synonymous with performance and thrilling driving dynamics, their evocative exhaust notes and powerful engines teamed with beautifully balanced steering and perfect chassis’. However, as we head toward an electric future, BMW is fully aware of the need to create electric performance vehicles.
The i4 M50 is the first-ever electric M car, with staggering performance and blistering dynamics. With an M3-rivalling 0-100 km/h spring of 3.9 seconds, the M50 will provide drivers with the thrill an M car has always provided. What’s more, 510 km of range is available on a single full charge, with 140 km available in 10 minutes, via fast charging. Despite the coupé shape, the i4 and its performance M50 sibling are immensely practical. With 470 litres of luggage space, it will swallow plenty of luggage and equipment. Fold the rear bench and you have an SUV-rivalling 1 290 litres of packing space.
With an electric range of up to 460 km, the BMW iX3 is the ideal family SUV for the future. Many people are concerned about how they would charge their electric BMW, should they own one. BMW’s charging network gives you access to more than 50 charging stations across the country, all allowing you to charge your iX3 up to 80% full in just over half an hour.
iX3 finishes off the comprehensive X3 range nicely, providing an electric alternative (and a glimpse into the future) and will be sold alongside the conventional diesel and petrol-powered X3 SUVs. 210 kW of power allows the iX3 to hit 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds.
Sitting at the peak of BMW’s electro mobility ambush, the large SUV is perhaps the brand’s most innovative and cutting edge vehicle. The range-topping xDrive50 has remarkable performance and range, with 385 kW and an incredible 630 km of range. Despite the large SUV body, BMW has managed to obtain a slippery drag coefficient figure of just 0.25.
0-100 km/h is dispatched in just 4.6 seconds, bettering the diesel-powered X5 M50d. A lesser-powered xDrive40 is also available, with 240 kW and a 100 km/h sprint time of 6.1 seconds. The 40 gives a total electric range of 425 km. Head designer Adrian van Hooydonk describes the halo SUV as one of the most intelligent vehicles BMW has ever produced.