BMW i4 review
The electric equivalent to the BMW 3 Series offers refinement and comfort, along with exceptional build quality and infotainment; the M50 packs a punch worthy of its badge
- Slick infotainment
- Competitive range
- M50 model’s performance
- Expensive compared to rivals
- All-wheel-drive only on top-spec model
- M50 not the most engaging BMW M car
|Model||Range||Wallbox charging time||Rapid charge time|
|eDrive40||365 miles||13hrs (0-100%, 7.4kW)||31mins (10-80%, 205kW)|
|M50||318 miles||13hrs (0-100%, 7.4kW)||31mins (10-80%, 205kW)|
The BMW i4 was the third electric car launched by the German brand during 2021, following on from the iX3 and iX SUVs. However, the i4 could be BMW’s most important EV to date, as it's not only a zero-emissions alternative to the brand’s popular 3 Series saloon, but also a direct rival to the Polestar 2 and Tesla Model 3.
BMW based the i4 on the combustion-engined 4 Series Gran Coupe, so it has plenty of visual presence, but also blends in nicely with the rest of the line-up – unlike the iX, which sticks out no matter what you park it next to. The otherwise-understated design is somewhat disrupted by enormous 'kidney' grilles, however.
Inside, there’s s minimalist, high-tech feel – but not to the extreme level Tesla goes to. Previous drivers of petrol or diesel BMW models will feel right at home here. Outright practicality is not the i4’s strongest suit, however. It’ll seat four and has a reasonably large boot, but space in the back for adults is on the tight side and a Touring estate or SUV is always going to be more versatile.
Rather than being a load-lugger, the i4 is first and foremost a driver’s car. In fact, it’s pretty much the best-handling electric car we’ve driven this side of the much more expensive Porsche Taycan. You hardly notice the extra weight of the batteries and those who relish the balance and precision of the combustion-engined 3 and 4 Series models will find the i4 to be a more than worthy zero-emissions equivalent.
The range-topping i40 M50 starts from around £65,000, which is £6,000 more than the rapid Tesla Model 3 Performance it competes with, yet the Tesla undercuts the BMW’s 0-62mph time by nearly a second and can cover 34 miles more on a charge. But it’s the superb cabin, and the driving experience when you’re not just hurtling forward in a straight line, that should appeal to those shopping at the potent end of the EV market.
That said, the entry-level eDrive40 is potentially the pick of the range, especially if you’re a company-car driver and already considering the i4’s rivals from Polestar and Tesla. Prices for this version start from around £53,000 in Sport trim or nearly £55,000 in M Sport guise, however, the eDrive40 is rear-drive only, and performance isn't quite as gut-wrenching as the M50 or the similarly priced Model 3 Long Range.
Overall, the i4’s superb refinement, build quality, excellent infotainment setup and rapid-charging capability, combined with a less hefty price tag and up to 365-mile claimed range make the electric BMW saloon a compelling package that has the potential to tempt a good many people away from a Tesla or Polestar. For a more detailed look at the i4, read on for the rest of our in-depth review…
In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe electric equivalent to the BMW 3 Series offers refinement and comfort, along with exceptional build quality and infotainment; the M50 packs a punch worthy of its badge
- 2Range, battery & chargingClaimed range numbers are promising, but depending on how you drive, the real-world figures aren’t quite as good
- 3Running costs & insuranceThe savings really stack up here, with i4 owners enjoying zero road tax, very low company-car tax, reasonable insurance ratings, strong residuals and affordable servicing
- 4Performance, motor & driveEven the entry-level i4 is quick, but the range-topping M50 boasts supersaloon-like performance; both handle superbly in the best BMW tradition
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortInterior quality and layout are both excellent, but BMW’s formerly class-leading infotainment system is starting to seem overly complex
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityBoot space is very close to that of the petrol 4 Series, but rear-seat passengers might feel the squeeze
- 7Reliability & safety ratingBMW has been building reliable electric cars for some time, but on the safety front the i4 only scored four out five in Euro NCAP crash-testing