BMW i4 review: range, battery & charging
Claimed range numbers are promising, but depending on how you drive, the real-world figures aren’t quite as good
|Model||Range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|eDrive35||299 miles||10hrs 45mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)||32mins (10-80%, 180kW)|
|eDrive40||365 miles||13hrs (0-100%, 7.4kW)||31mins (10-80%, 205kW)|
|M50||318 miles||13hrs (0-100%, 7.4kW)||31mins (10-80%, 205kW)|
A big battery and fast charging speeds always add up to a good score in this section, so it’s not surprising that the i4 is one of the better choices for those prone to range anxiety. It’s not perfect, though; as always, the claimed maximum range is tricky to replicate in the real world, and not every public charging point out there right now can take full advantage of the i4’s fastest possible charging speed of 205kW.
BMW i4 range
The new entry-level i4 eDrive35 arriving later this year features a 70kWh battery and offers up to 299 miles of range, according to BMW. We’ve yet to test this particular version’s real-world efficiency, but on paper it boasts a similar range to entry-level versions of the Polestar 2 and Tesla Model 3, that the i4 competes directly with.
Both the eDrive40 and high-performance M50 versions of the i4 use an 81kWh battery. In the eDrive40 that equates to an official range of 365 miles, though when we tested it, it returned an average of 3.8 miles per kilowatt hour (mi/kWh) – roughly 307 miles on a charge. That’s a good figure, though we saw the Tesla Model 3 manage a much more impressive 4.4mi/kWh in the same conditions.
The M50 should do 318 miles, though at the start of our test drive, with 90%, we saw an indicated range of just 232 miles. After a 91-mile route on a variety of roads, the battery had depleted to 44% capacity, with 112 miles remaining.
The eDrive35 has a maximum charging speed of 180kW, while the eDrive40 and M50 can reach 205kW. That’s not quite as fast as Tesla Model 3 or Hyundai Ioniq 6 can charge, but it does mean a 10-80% top-up will take just over half an hour regardless of which model you’ve gone for. In layman’s terms, you’re looking at 102 miles of range in around 10 minutes in the eDrive40, or 87 miles in the same time in an M50 – providing you find a suitably fast ultra-rapid charger.
More people are likely to charge at home, though, and the i4 is capable of AC charging at up to 11kW, which will replenish the eDrive35’s 70kWh battery in seven hours or the 81kWh unit in a eDrive40/M50 in eight-and-a-half hours. Using a more common 7.4kW home wallbox, it'll take close to 11 hours to fully recharge the eDrive35, or around 13 hours for the eDrive40 and M50.
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 & charging - currently readingClaimed 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 & infotainmentInterior 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 of five in Euro NCAP crash-testing