BMW i4 performance, motor & drive
Even the entry-level i4 is quick, but the range-topping M50 boasts supersaloon-like performance; both handle superbly in the best BMW tradition
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The i4 is driven by BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive electric motors, with the entry-level eDrive40 producing a healthy 335bhp from its single rear-mounted motor. The all-wheel-drive M50 range-topper is the first electric M performance model, pumping out 537bhp and 795Nm of torque courtesy of its dual-motor setup.
BMW i4 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration
The 0-62mph sprint takes just 3.9 seconds in the M50, or a still-brisk 5.7 seconds in the eDrive40. Putting your foot down in the M50 in particular catapults you forward without hesitation. In fact, you’ll need to make sure you have a firm grip on the steering wheel when you deploy all 537bhp, as it writhes in your hands, thanks in part to the 430Nm of torque being sent through the wheels.
In the wet, a good deal of patience with the throttle is required, as the potent powertrain can make the M50 a bit of a handful. The car uses its brakes to control wheelspin, but can become unsettled when coming out of tight corners searching for traction. Things are a bit more sedate in the eDrive40, but its 335bhp is still more than enough for any everyday driving situation.
Behind the wheel, a low driving position makes the i4 feel hunkered-down, while a low centre of gravity gives it an athletic feel, despite weighing over two tonnes. Both the standard and ‘M’ models change direction well and feature precise, confidence-inspiring steering. However, whether you’re in Comfort or Sport mode, the steering has a detached, synthetic feel to it; you need to concentrate to notice any feedback coming through.
When you’re not driving with such purpose, refinement in the i4 is excellent. Wind and tyre noise are kept at bay, making the electric saloon a pleasant motorway cruiser. Performance remains strong at higher speeds, which is perfect for overtaking. Standard air suspension also means the i4 is unperturbed by harsher road surfaces, especially in Comfort mode. The mass is less tightly controlled in this case, however.
In This Review
- 1VerdictThe 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 & drive - currently readingEven 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