BMW i4 review
The BMW i4 is the German brand’s first fully-electric gran coupe that delivers great performance, has a plush interior and excellent infotainment. Its looks might not be to everyone’s taste, though, and there are roomier alternatives.
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The BMW i4 is like a 4 Series from a decade in the future. It shares a very similar outline, but uses all-electric power and has a slightly bolder design, as well as having a more advanced interior.
It certainly won’t fade into the background as BMW has fitted the huge kidney grille from the 4 Series Gran Coupe that the i4 is based on.
In the cabin, the i4 has a plush finish to match other BMW models – it definitely feels more upmarket in here than a Tesla Model 3. Entry-level models come with cloth seat trim as standard, but leather is also on offer for those wanting a high-end feel.
Regardless, it’s a well-built and neatly designed cabin, but the infotainment is the star of the show and features the impressive curved display combining the 12.3-inch instrument and 14.9-inch infotainment screens in one sleek unit.
Compared to the 4 Series Gran Coupe, it’s 6mm taller and sits 15mm closer to the road – but remains mostly the same.
Taller passengers may struggle to fit in the rear due to the sloping roof line, but knee room is decent. As it’s based on a fuel-powered model, there isn’t a flat floor in the footwell, so fitting three adults in will be a struggle. However, the door openings are a good size and it is more than comfortable enough.
You’ll be happy to hear that it’s quite spacious in the boot, with the hatchback tailgate opening up to provide a roomy load space. The rear seats fold down to reveal a flat floor, too.
The BMW i4 is the all-electric cousin of the 4 Series Gran Coupe. The M50 version is as fast as an M3 to 60mph, just not quite as fun to drive.
Usable battery capacity of the i4 is 80.7kWh, which for the entry-level eDrive40 Sport means a claimed range of 367 miles. That version comes with a 340hp rear-mounted electric motor setup that also produces 430Nm.
The top-spec i4 M50 version – which was developed by the BMW’s M division – is fitted with two electric motors. With one fitted on each axle, the M50 comes with four-wheel drive and has a stout 544hp and 795Nm on tap. Claimed range is reduced to 316 miles, though.
Whichever i4 you want, performance isn’t an issue. Even the eDrive40 models can do the sprint to 62mph in 5.7 seconds. But if you want brutal electric acceleration, the M50 gets to 62mph in 3.9 seconds (we bettered that in our video, however). Top speed is 140mph, though, rather than the usual 155, because the range of an EV really suffers at high speed.
In town, the i4 feels very comfortable over bumps and cracks in the surface thanks to air suspension at the rear, and it’s pretty nimble as well. M50 models come with adaptive suspension for further comfort, meaning that even that can deal with poor surfaces nicely.
As standard, the i4 features adaptive cruise control and a reversing camera – making driving on the motorway and parking much simpler. Refinement is also excellent throughout the i4 line-up, with only tyre noise making an impression.
Although it isn’t all fantastic, if the i4 sounds like the model for you, check out our deals page to see what price you can get for this stylish electric four-door.
With the coupe roofline, the i4 isn’t as comfortable for taller passengers. But the boot is excellent and has easy access.
If you like a sporty driving position you will really appreciate the i4. You sit low down in the car, meaning you get a better feel for the road underneath and you feel secure in the comfy sports seats – which are standard.
As with many cars fitted with a digital instrument display, you may struggle to get a full view of the screen – but it shouldn’t be too difficult to get in the right driving position to suit you thanks to plenty of adjustment options.
The i4 is based on the same chassis as the 3 Series – so by adding batteries underneath the floor, your legs could feel a bit cramped in the back. Add to that the sloping roofline, and taller passengers may really struggle to fit.
As it’s based on a fuel-powered car, the i4 has a transmission tunnel – not something you expect in an EV. That means there’s no flat floor, making it slightly more difficult for a third adult to sit comfortably in the rear seats. That said, three children could probably sit across the back of the i4 quite easily.
The standard black cloth interior may feel a bit too dingy and focused for some, so it’s good that BMW offers alternative trim options. These leather versions come in dark red, brown or white to add a different character to the i4’s cabin.
There are plenty of storage bins and cubbyholes in the front – with the door pockets capable of holding a large bottle. The centre console also has room for a large bin near your elbow, while the phone and cup holder to the right is also perfectly large enough for most.
For passengers in the back, door pockets are spacious enough for a can or two – while the central armrest has the cup holders covered, so when you’ve not got a drink it’s more comfortable. However with the sports seats, there are no seat pockets.
Despite being an EV that’s based on a combustion engine platform, the i4 doesn’t lose out on storage space. With the gran coupe shape, the boot opening is rather large – acting more like a hatchback – and you get a 470-litre boot.
Folding down the split rear seats means you get 1,290 litres of storage, and to make it even more useful, the seats fold close to flat. The parcel shelf is a solid unit rather than being attached to the boot, but it’s easy to store and remove to optimise space.
The i4 is superbly refined and quiet on the go, while the electric power is pretty punchy. It’s not the most fun but very stable.
As a purely electric model, the i4 comes with two electric motor options to pair with its 87kWh battery pack. For both the Sport and M Sport, BMW fits the eDrive40 setup that comes with a single motor mounted on the rear axle. The M Division-developed M50 is fitted with two motors – one on each axle – to give four-wheel drive and additional performance.
With the eDrive40, the i4 has 340hp and 430Nm of torque at its disposal. With only rear-wheel drive, 0-60mph takes 5.7 seconds and it can go on to a top speed of 118mph. Not the fastest EV around, granted , but it’s more than capable of getting up to speed on country roads and motorways.
On the M50 though, BMW has let its M Division work its magic, so it can sprint to 60 from standstill in just 3.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 140mph. The acceleration is almost identical as an M3, although the petrol-powered M will reach a higher top speed – and it has that bit more character an EV can’t replicate.
If you’re after range over performance, then you should look towards the eDrive40-powered models. They offer a claimed range of 367 miles depending on conditions and how you drive it – so around the market average of all electric vehicles.
But if you want that punch of electric performance, the M50 has a 316-mile range. So the additional performance and added weight of an extra motor does make a bit of a difference.
You’ll also be pleased to hear that the i4 has flexible charging options. You can choose to charge up at home using a 11kW wallbox, but charging takes 8.5 hours – so maybe something for overnight.
But if you’re out on a long journey and need extra juice, you can charge up at DC points. At a 200kW charger, you can add 102 miles of range to the eDrive40 and 87 miles to the M50 in just 10 minutes – that’s pretty speedy. Maximum charging capacity of the battery is 210kW, so if you can find a charger with that performance, it’ll fill up even faster.
As with most BMWs, you can place the i4 easily on the road and, especially with the four-wheel drive in the M50, you get plenty of traction out of the corners. But as is the way with other EVs, steering feel is lacking – something that you would need to get used to.
You also have to get used to how heavy it is. The i4 tips the scales at 2,125kg and up until you push it hard round a corner, BMW has done a great job of hiding that weight. But when you’re weaving down a country road at higher speeds, you’ll feel the i4’s heft – making the lighter and equally powerful petrol-powered M3 that bit more enjoyable to drive.
Views out of the cabin are rather good, with the A-pillars not restricting your eyeline out to the side, and the rear view window is large enough for minimal issues. However, the bonnet does restrict your sight out of the front, so you may want to look towards an SUV if you want a better view.
On the motorways, you’ll find the i4 is very refined, and the expected wind noise is very minimal indeed. Tyre noise is more dominant, but even that isn’t very intrusive.
In the UK, you get the choice of 17”, 18” and 19” wheels on the Sport and M Sport models, while the M50 has the option of 19” and 20” wheels. Even with the largest alloys, the M50 is very comfortable thanks to the adaptive M suspension – so cracks and expansion joints won’t disrupt the ride much at all.
With that adaptive suspension, you can use the comfort and sportier setups – and even the sportier M50, which is stiffer, feels very comfortable in the softest mode.
Drivers can also choose to use the ‘B’ driving mode. This turns the regenerative braking up, and means you can have true one-pedal driving as it brings you to a complete stop when you lift your foot off the accelerator.
The interior is as you would expect from a BMW. It’s well put together and the infotainment is excellent, but Mercedes adds more flair to its cabins.
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