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

Overall rating

4.5 out of 5

Pros

  • Slick infotainment
  • Competitive range
  • M50 model’s performance

Cons

  • Expensive compared to rivals
  • All-wheel-drive only on top-spec model
  • M50 not the most engaging BMW M car
ModelRangeWallbox charging timeRapid charge time
eDrive40365 miles13hrs (0-100%, 7.4kW)31mins (10-80%, 205kW)
M50318 miles13hrs (0-100%, 7.4kW)31mins (10-80%, 205kW)

BMW is launching electric cars at an extraordinary rate, introducing both the i7 luxury limousine and iX1 compact SUV in the past few months alone. But the i4 is still BMW’s most important EV to date, as it's not only a zero-emissions alternative to the brand’s hugely popular 3 Series saloon, but also a direct rival to the Tesla Model 3, Polestar 2 and Hyundai's new Ioniq 6.

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 one of the best-handling electric cars we’ve tested. 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 £69,000, which is £12,000 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, Hyundai or Tesla. Prices for this version currently start from around £56,000 in Sport trim or nearly £58,000 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…

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