Powerful and smooth
BMW is rapidly expanding its range of electric ‘i’ models, with the new BMW iX SUV, and the more conventional iX3 SUV, but perhaps the most eagerly-awaited is this, the BMW i4, in a body style that BMW is so well known for. It possesses authentic and powerful BMW driving attributes, that will get anyone excited, along with a decadent interior and refined drive, which truly adds to the i4’s allure.
Using a platform designed for an electric powertrain, it has an optimised layout, with the batteries located low in the floor, which helps with weight distribution, while also increasing cabin space. While the size of the i4 matches that of the new 4 Series Gran Coupé, and is slightly larger than the popular 3 Series.
Here we’re tried the BMW i4 M50, which is the first BMW EV to come from the performance ‘M’ division, designed to offer explosive performance.
The highest bhp of any M3
The BMW i4 is available as the more muscular M50, or the more affordable eDrive40. The BMW i4 eDrive40 features BMW’s classic rear-wheel-drive setup and an electric motor that produces a more than respectable 335bhp. Along with a very impressive range of 367 miles, which is slightly longer than the much revered Long Range Tesla Model 3. As such, the BMW i4 eDrive40 is a superb car, that’s exceptionally practical, while being more favourable in terms of price.
However, the show-stopper is the BMW i4 M50. This beefed-up version gets two electric motors (one on each axle, allowing all-wheel-drive), and offers up a mind-blowing 536bhp and a stonking 795Nm of torque, which is more than you get from any other BMW M3 sports car. As such it can sprint from 0-60mph in under four seconds, and has a top speed that is limited to 140mph.
In regards to range, an 80.7kWh battery is used, which allows for a claimed electric range of 324 miles, which is very good. While its battery can be charged at up to 200kW, which means that if you can find a powerful enough charger on your cross-country adventures, that you can top the battery up from 10% to 80% in as little as 31 minutes, meaning you could add 100 miles of range in a very short stop indeed.
Refined yet ready to let rip
There seems to be two distinctive sides to the i4, the first being its impressive refinement. With standard-fit air suspension at the rear, it’s seriously impressive how good the ride is, soaking up just about any bump in the road in a way that electric cars rarely can. It offers a smooth and cultured driving experience that allows for gentle gliding and no exertion.
However, if so desired, flick the BMW i4 M50 into sport mode, and the true scale of its performance capability is unleashed. The instantaneous power delivery from the dual electric motors is astonishing, with performance that’s truly worthy of the ‘M’ badge.
It’s not all perfect, however, as it does lack a certain directness that you get with some other BMW M cars, feeling slightly heavier, and less urgent than some other BMW M models. Though despite this one consideration, it is fantastically enjoyable to drive.
A slightly futuristic element that has been added, is a new sound developed for electric vehicles, which – particularly when in sport mode – offers a distinctly futuristic noise. But this can be turned off if you feel it’s overkill.
Inside, the BMW i4 gets the latest-generation iDrive system, which appears on an impressive curved twin-screen display. It’s a superb design, while also featuring clear displays and an outstanding voice control system.
Elsewhere, the BMW i4 has a typical BMW interior, meaning it offers perfect ergonomics and a very upmarket feel, while the driving position will allow most people to be exceptionally comfortable.
There is a 470-litre boot, which a very good size indeed, however the battery placement does encroach slightly on space in the rear, meaning the tallest of passengers might not be able to fully stretch out.
There are three trims on offer: Sport, M Sport, and M50.
Sport versions get plenty of equipment, including 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels, the aforementioned twin-screen display, LED headlights, and a reversing camera, to name just a few features. And M Sport models then pack a more aggressive styling kit.
With the BMW i4 M50, the premium price is essentially there for its extra performance, though it does get other tweaks too, including leather upholstery, adaptive sports suspension, electric seats, and a head-up display.
A premium for pro performance
Prices for the BMW i4 start from £51,905 for the eDrive 40 in Sport grade, which is more expensive than the most affordable versions of the Tesla Model 3. However, as mentioned the BMW i4 eDrive 40 does have a better range.
While prices for the M Sport start from £53,405, while the magnificent M50 will require you to splash out £63,405 for that blistering brake horsepower.
Efficient yet very exciting
As an electric all-rounder, the i4 is a superb option. Its long electric range and impressive charging capability mean it truly competes and can edge ahead of the Tesla Model 3 in efficiency terms. While the pace and style and build quality give it an extra premium edge that stands out as special.
While not better than all other BMW M cars, it can offer the best brake horsepower, and is truly exciting to drive, while being sublimely comfortable at the same time. And the more affordable eDrive40 may be perfect for those who don’t require ridiculous acceleration.