‘Compact premium sedans’ have been doing well for decades. The 3-series, C-class and A4 always graced the top of the lease lists, first as diesels, then as PHEVs. But there are currently no electric successors available. A pity, especially in the Netherlands, where addition percentages determine the lease behavior.
Tesla jumped into the gap with the Model 3 and immediately garnered success. Then came the Polestar 2, which we prefer over the Tesla. Yes, we love the face-shaping performance and Superchargers from the popular Silicon Valley brand. Still, we prefer the smooth dynamics and design of the Polestar, inside and out. And so that’s the car we brought with us to pit against the BMW i4.
We were very curious about the BMW i4
Oh, we’ve been looking forward to that i4. The BMW 3 Series, along with the related 4 Series, always managed to dominate the competition. Then a new battery-powered version will also be worth it, right? To emphasize that this is a core BMW, not an outsider like the i3, the Germans chose to give it the look of the 4-series Gran Coupé.
He even got the same grille, although he doesn’t need it in any way. They might as well have fitted some huge shiny tailpipes. Yet this 4-series doppelgänger has a completely different floor and suspension to make room for the batteries and the electric motor. Inside, you’ll find a larger screen and fewer buttons than in the 4 Series.
You still recognize parts of Volvo in the Polestar 2
The Polestar is also related to a car with an internal combustion engine: the Volvo XC40. Except it has its own New Age-esque brand that is a far cry from the old Volvo establishment. Parts of the interior are clearly Volvo’s, but most of it is not recognizable as such: such as the screen, which proudly adorns the dashboard and runs on an Android system under Polestar’s graphic top layer.
These cars are close to each other in terms of equipment and options. They have full driver assistance, pixel headlights, maximum infotainment, big wheels and brakes and chic dampers – adaptive ones on the BMW, manually adjustable Öhlins ones on the Polestar. This particular Polestar is the Long Range Dual Motor version, with three packages (Plus, Pilot and Performance) and the optional snow white paint. They are not much fuller.
The price of the BMW i4 eDrive40
The BMW i4 eDrive40 starts at just under 61 grand and has small wheels for a longer range. But here we have the M Sport with leather, 19 inch and also three option packs (which are different in every market). You can also order the i4 with two engines, but that is less fun than the rear-wheel drive.
The price of the Polestar 2 Dual Motor Long Range
A Polestar 2 with this equipment will cost you 68,900 euros, while the BMW i4 comes at an inconvenient 75 grand. We say awkward because it has 340 horsepower and rear-wheel drive (with a differential lock) and goes from 0 to 100 in 5.7 seconds; against the 408 horsepower, four-wheel drive and 4.7 seconds of the Polestar. But the BMW has a slightly larger battery with a net capacity of 81 kWh; the Polestar makes do with 75 kWh. And the i4 is more economical: the WLTP range on these wheels is 553 kilometers. The Polestar should make it to 454 kilometers.
Even in a heavy car, well over 400 horsepower is not childish. Especially when it’s as readily available as you ask for it and distributed over the grip of four tires. The Polestar accelerates with guileless and somewhat brutal ease, at least to the speeds you can drive in our corner of the world. The i4 is just very smooth. But that is also more than enough for a responsible overtaking action. On dry asphalt, it has all the traction it could wish for.
What makes the BMW i4 different from the Polestar 2
Which brings us to the i4’s big differentiator. It is very interactive in the corners. The steering tells you what the front wheels are experiencing and the rear wheels also communicate with you. So it’s easy to calmly steer the power their way and balance things out. The traction control is subtle and has a Dynamic mode. And yes, Off too.
The Polestar comes out of the corner faster – always. It has a lot of grip, steers accurately and asks little of you. But it’s a one-dish menu. On the border he gets a little understeered. If the road is wet, it simply understeers earlier and stronger. He doesn’t talk to you and doesn’t give you different options. The BMW does all that.
The comfort of the two electric sedans
However, the chassis comfort of the i4 is also in order. Not soft as a pillow, but the adaptive dampers shed big blows, smooth out rough road surfaces and work so calmly that you don’t notice after a while. You sit low enough to not really get anything from any slopes and dives. His tires roll quietly over most surfaces and he glides smoothly through the air.
The Polestar’s Öhlins dampers behave like a rally car: they control body movement and wheel bounce, but they need speed to work really well. In the city, the 2 is pounding and he makes every road seem uneven. At speed his tires buzz and there is wind noise at mirrors and doors.
Polestar 2 vs BMW i4: Cold Weather Batteries
On our test day it is cool, between 2 and 8 degrees. We haven’t pre-charged the batteries and we’re riding at a decent pace, so our range numbers are about the worst you could ever get. The BMW manages to a distance of 378 kilometers, the Polestar to 282 kilometers. And that with battery capacities that approach each other so closely.
The consumption of the BMW came down to 21.4 kWh/100 km, that of the Polestar at a lousy 28.2 kWh/100 km. Anyway, warmer weather or preheating the battery can save 15 percent for consumption and range. The i4 should be able to charge a little faster, but the charging speed decreases in both cars when the 50 percent has been passed, so that you don’t have much with a 350-kW fast charger. With us, it took them both about 40 minutes to go from 10 to 80 percent at a 150 kW charge point.
Let’s talk about the design of the BMW i4 and Polestar 2
If you stopped reading now, you’d think the Polestar is a tough one. The BMW i4 has a dynamism and efficiency that may make it more interesting than a crossover. But people buy crossovers in droves, so those things don’t seem to matter that much. People mainly want image, brand and design.
design? Enough has been said and written about the big BMW grille, but it really only distracts from the fact that the rest of the i4 is a mess. The proportions are good, but creases start and end for no reason and the front and rear bumpers are a cacophony of disjointed visual ideas. It looks better in a dark color – that says it all. The Polestar, on the other hand, has a strong silhouette and confident, simple surfaces and details.
The interior of the BMW feels more expensive, but the designers could have used a chill pill. The graphics on the screens are so full of decoration and color that they become unclear. The Polestar’s decor is bright and understated. The front seats betray their Volvo heritage through their wonderful comfort on long distances, although the space in the back and in the trunk is less spacious. Barring the silly little speedometer, its graphics are an example of calm and legibility.
Volvo created Polestar for people who consciously want to break with the image and values of the oil age. The design is truly a breath of fresh air, and perhaps buyers don’t care that its ride quality can’t quite measure up to the best the establishment has to offer. That’s the i4. In terms of range and efficiency, BMW has built an excellent electric car. But from a driver’s perspective, it’s simply the best EV you can get for this money – and for a lot more money too.
01: BMW i4 eDrive40 (18/20)
Come for the fine BMW dynamics. Stay for the efficiency. Escape the styling
02: Polestar 2 Dual Motor Long Range (16/20)
Beautiful piece of design with New Age image. But drives flat and is not economical enough 16/20
Specifications BMW i4 eDrive40
Drivetrain: 1 e-motor, RWD
Assets: 340 hp
Acceleration 0-100 5.7 s
Couple: 430 Nm
Range (statement): 553 km WLTP
Top speed: 190 km/h
Battery capacity (net): 84 kWh (81 kWh)
Luggage space: 470 l 1,290 l (bench down)
Price: €60,630 (NL) / €60,800 (B)
Specifications Polestar 2 Dual Motor Long Range
Drivetrain: 2 e-motors, 4WD
Assets: 408 hp
Acceleration: 0-100 4.5 sec
Couple: 660 Nm
Range (statement): 454 km WLTP
Top speed: 205 km/h
Battery capacity: (net) 78 kWh (75 kWh)
luggage compartment† 405 l 1,095 l (bench down)
Price: € 53,900 (NL) / € 53,900 (B)