BMW i4 review: range, battery & charging
Claimed range figures are promising, but making the most of the i4's performance will see the numbers tumbling
|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 features a 70kWh battery and offers up to 299 miles of range, according to BMW. A range figure of around 250 miles should be more than doable on a day-to-day basis, which therefore makes the base i4 the sweet spot for the majority of EV drivers.
Both the eDrive40 and high-performance M50 versions of the i4 use a larger 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 – not ideal if you intend, like we did, to make use of all the performance that’s on offer.
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 – provided 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. Most homes don’t have access to three-phase electrics, though, so we suspect you’ll likely be making use of a slightly-less powerful 7.4kW wallbox unit; using one of these, 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 performance and refinement, plus technology and superb build quality
- 2Range, battery & charging - currently readingClaimed range figures are promising, but making the most of the i4's performance will see the numbers tumbling
- 3Running costs & insuranceThough the i4 is pretty expensive to buy, reasonable insurance, low tax and strong residuals mean the savings quickly stack up
- 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, and BMW's infotainment system is incredibly responsive - if a little confusing at times
- 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